Sunday, June 1, 2014

Convergence of Civilizations

Robert Kaplan in his book, Asia's Cauldron describes Malaysia as a "convergence of civilizations", a melting pot of three major cultures, Indian, Chinese and Malay. Not many people know that the Malay language is spoken by 300 million people in South East Asia making it the 5th most widely spoken language in the world. Nusantara or the Malay archipelago spans from the northern tip of Sumatra, Aceh to Timor Timor (East Timor) covering a vast expanse of 20,000 islands and 3 time zones. Listen to me, you isles the Lord has called me in his righteousness (Isa 49,1). Malaysia is truly a convergence of civilizations together with the indigenous cultures of Borneo, East Malaysia which makes the country the envy of the world in terms of its rich multi-culturalism.

Witness yesterday's by-election in Teluk Intan, Perak. The ruling coalition represented by Gerakan, a mainly Chinese party in a Malay Umno dominated coalition won in a seat that is almost equally divided between Malay and Chinese voters and about 18% Indian votes. DAP, a multi-racial party albeit dominated by Chinese fielded a young female Malay candidate whose mother felt compelled to resign from Perkasa, a right-wing Malay NGO. I think only in Malaysia you can have such a combination or convergence of different political parties and coalitions with all its colours and each with its own propaganda beside. Hence, the noise level of political discourse is always one octave higher, not just during election but almost 24/7, especially when race and religion are never far from the surface of the political debate.

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