On the 13th of September a discussion was held in AWAM on issues of race and religion. Among the issues discussed was the Bar Council forum, the UITM demonstration and the remark made by Ahmad Ismail during the by-election of Permatang Pauh in Penang not too long ago. The discussion was attended by students from UM, UTAR and also UKM. Most, if not all of us, agreed that even after 50 years of independence Malaysia is still caught in the polemics of race and religion. A great deal of time was spent on discussing why such polemics still took place and whether it was the government factor or the people/mindset factor which caused all these outcry over race and religion. Some of us were of the opinion that it was the mindset of the people, e.g. ignorance, the refusal to learn and understand the beliefs and practices of “the other” and also because of family influence and stereotyping. However most of us also agreed it was due to the structures and institutions of government which caused racial and religious tensions. The attempt by our colonialist, the British government to divide and rule the people and the subsequent consent of the present government to continue these policies and the enforcement of these institutions inevitably worsened relations between the different races in Malaysia. Its basically a chicken and egg situation, government and the mindset of the people.
Posted on September 15, 2008 by Iliya