“Hey Rabun, do you consider me a racist pengkhianat pendatang ah?” I asked my friend point blank.
“You are eh, ah...er, no la. You can speak Malay, ok la. It's only those who refuse to learn Malay, send their children to Chinese schools. Those are the racists! They love the Chinese national language more that the Malaysian national language!”
“But Rabun, I send my kid to Chinese schools what? According to that blog, that qualifies me as a racist pengkhianat pendatang! How about the dozens of Indian and Malay children studying in the same Chinese school as my kids? All of the racist pengkhianat pendatang also ka – including the Malays?”
Rabun was quiet for a moment. Suddenly the picture he was convinced to see as reality at the blog didn't seem so close to the reality on earth. But Rabun's introspection didn't last long. He burst out again:
“YES! They are all pengkhianat! They are Malays and they should be sending their children to study at Malay schools, not at some pendatang language ghetto!”
I tried to appeal to Rabun's sense of logic: “Ok...then what about all our pseudo-bangsawan Ministers and politicians who send their kids to study at private institutes whose teaching medium is English? How pengkhianat are they?”
Rabun's eyes rolled up to his left side for a moment. Then his face lit up as if he had found the answer to one of life's greatest mysteries.
“No, no, no, no! You can't say like that – all the proletariat riff raff in national schools will corrupt these elite children or they may be kidnapped! You know our BN politicians are not very well paid and they don't take a single sen in corruption! Where got money to pay the kidnapper's ransom like that?”
“Besides,” continued Rabun as he speared a piece of nasi impit and soaked it in the peanut sauce, “English is a very important language – if they don't study in Malay schools, it's because they are being prepared to be the next generation of elite leaders!”
Rabun pushed the nasi impit into his mouth, smacking his lips and looking pretty satisfied with himself. He had the particular glint in his eye that I noted in all those GinjalKeras fanatics who pride themselves for somehow managing to wrangle together some convoluted argument to try to shoo away the inconvenient facts facing them and imagining the jaguh kampung from DemiNegara patting them on the back.
But like I said, Rabun is my friend. And I would not be doing him any favours by allowing him to continue being deceived and led around by the nose like a sleepy kerbau by self-aggrandizing wannabes with a sinister agenda. So I pressed on:
“Rabun, do you know that Mandarin is the language with the most number of speakers in the world?”
Rabun smiled...Obviously he had another pat answer from the DemiNegara BTN Bible.
“Of course I know! You pendatang always think we're stupid just because we're Malay! Mandarin may be the most spoken language in the world. But that's only because China has the largest population in the world - English is the most WIDELY spoken language in the world!”
“No Rabun, I don't think you're stupid because you're Malay. I just think you're stupid to put your trust in those narrow-minded bigots prancing and preening at DemiNegara whose arguments have as much substance and eloquence as a wet fart from a diarrheal arse – they are noisy, full of shit and hot air, and they stink.”
Rabun was turning red in the face again, but I quickly offered him several sticks of satay and continued as he munched intently.
“OK let's look at KerangBasi's argument that only in Malaysia are the pendatangs allowed to demand all sorts of rights to education that no other country in the world would give a second thought to. He exerts that the pendatang here have it good because of the pribumi's tolerance which is quickly coming to an end. He argues that overseas, the pendatangs would be quickly assimilated or forever be ostracised.”
Rabun grinned and said, “That's the facts! You can't argue with it! Look at the US – do you see any of the pendatangs there speaking their pendatang languages ar practising their pendatang cultures? NO! All their schools teach in the American language and the pendatangs have to assimilate or buzz off!”
It was time to give Rabun a reality check:
“Do you know that in the US, they are slowly but surely introducing Mandarin language classes into the official school system? Now there are even some US schools teaching in both English and Mandarin language mediums already. In fact, while we're still pissing around about PPSMI here in Malaysia, some schools in the US are teaching science & maths in MANDARIN!”
Rabun blinked. Obviously he had no clue of these happenings in the world. The fascist lies that had been shoehorned into his psyche from the DemiNegara cesspool of ideas were beginning to crack. I pressed on with the undisputable facts:
“All over the world – from the US to Canada to the UK to Australia – Mandarin language classes and Mandarin medium schools are the fastest growing education choice, both privately and officially! That's mainly because their educators recognise China as the next economic giant and they want to prepare their country's children to be able to deal effectively with the Chinese in the future.”
Rabun was quick to retort: “Are you saying that Chinese is superior to Malay?!”
“On the contrary, my dear friend, I am merely producing evidence to prove that BilangLast is either lying or completely ignorant about education issues, even though he fancies himself as an authority on education issues worldwide. His arrogance borne of blissful ignorance is most amply demonstrated by his laughably self-glorifying committee effort - the fascist Satu Sekolah Untuk Semua proposal. Thank God only 2000+ netizens were duped to believing his nonsense despite all the jaguh-jaguh kampung's posturing and chest-thumping!”
Rabun was livid at that! “Now you've proven yourself to be a racist pendatang! What's wrong with having one school system to integrate all our nation's children?”
Oops! Clearly, Rabun was one of the duped who had signed the online petition! I should have been more careful with my words. I quickly waved a waiter over and ordered an ais bandung for my friend to cool him down. That gave me some time to gather my thoughts too.
“Well, Rabun,” I began, “there's nothing wrong with having a single official school system. I've even written in support of establishing a single Malaysian schools system. But KurangBernas' version is based on his fascist idea that education is all about putting the pendatangs in their proper place, exerting the superiority of the Malay language and culture above the pendatangs, creating a Melayu Celup out of the pendatangs so that they look and sound more acceptable to his brand of bigotry.”
“As well they should, seeing that they are pendatang to the Tanah Melayu! Is there any other nation in the world that allows their pendatang to continue practising their pendatang culture?” retorted Rabun stubbornly.
Actually all the nations that are used in DemiNegara as examples of assimilated pendatang like the US, UK and Australia are nations that actually strive to encourage and celebrate diversity. Of course, KurapKhas would conveniently choose to ignore those facts and attempt to pass fractions of truths as facts that support the BTN gospel he so fervently preaches.
But I didn't want to distract from the point I was trying to make so I merely ignored his outburst and continued:
“My version of a unified a school system is based on allowing diversity to flourish as long as they are privately funded. You have to understand, education is not about political indoctrination. It should be about preparing our children to face the world. Parents should be given the choice of what they think is best for their kids – personal choice should not be regulated by government!”
Rabun waved a satay stick around menacingly as he talked, “We are not calling for government to regulate choice – we just want our kids to study together so that they can break down the racial walls that divide! Like that also you cannot accept ka?”
“Didn't I just say that I called for a unified schools system? But by the very act of denying all other choices (as called for by the SSUS effort) aren't parents' choice being decided for them by the government? What next – marriage licenses only granted to government match-made couples? Government sanctioned babies?”
Rabun started to say something but I distracted him with another plateful of satay and quickly pressed home my point:
“Wouldn't you agree that the medium of instruction is not nearly as important as the quality of education. Besides, there are plenty of countries where their schools have various mediums of instruction, or where the medium of instruction is not the official language or where there exist successful official vernacular school systems. In the few examples I pointed out to you just now, even the Mat Salleh are turning to Chinese as a viable medium of instruction in their own country! Because what matters most is the quality of the education, not the language it is delivered in.”
Rabun was quiet for a moment. I could almost see the gears in his brain turning, resisting the new configurations being introduced, but no longer so sure in the old mechanisms. But obviously his deeply indoctrinated mind refused to give up so easily the myth he was so strongly sold on. So I half-expected the next thing he said:
“That may be so, but you pendatangs here are different...you have no interest in education quality either. You send your kids to Chinese schools because you refuse to integrate into Malaysian society. It is a clear demonstration of your own brand of pendatang racism because you want to preserve your Chinese-ness instead of adopting the culture of your adopted land. Since that's the case, we pribumis have to wonder why you all hauled your asses here in the first place! And now you dare to demand this and that!”
I shook my head at his circular reasoning – you pendatang prefer Chinese schools because you reject Malays & Malaysia, and the reason why you reject Malays & Malaysia is because you hold on to your racist pendatang mentality, if you have that pendatang mentality of course you prefer Chinese schools and reject Malays & Malaysia. Round and round goes the DemiNegara ideological carousel.
My friend Rabun seemed not to understand the fact that I was born and raised in Malaysia as a Malaysian citizen, ipso facto I am NOT a pendatang but a Malaysian bumiputra - "diputrakan di bumi Malaysia".
But I have long ago realised that there is no point arguing with people trapped in circular logic – it's just gonna go round and round and round with no end in sight. I decided to take a slight tangent on the argument:
“Of course I agree that having a strong sense of nationalism is important for nationhood and it has to be inculcated in schools. And one way to achieve this is having a strong mastery of the national language. But which is more important to the KeraBuas gang - the medium of instruction or the quality of education? I think the way they attacked me for suggesting that privately-funded vernacular schools be freely allowed makes it obvious that not only do they want all non-Malay languages disallowed from official schools, they won't even tolerate it in private schools. So their aim is not education and integration, but indoctrination and suppression of minorities.”
“I don't know about you, Rabun, but I think history has pretty clearly shown that fascism has never been the way to successful nation-building.”
“We are not fascist!” proclaimed Rabun indignantly. But the slight quiver in his voice was evident. Perhaps the facts were finally exploding the dangerous BTN myths that were deeply implanted in his mind. I could only hope so...
“Rabun, do you actually know what fascism is?”
“Erm...ah...er, of course! It's Hitler and all that! Do you see any Malays slaughtering Chinese in Malaysia?”
I chose not to mention the infamous incident 40 years ago involving the ruling junta and hundreds of innocents as it would only provoke a bitter argument and be counter-productive to our discussion. Instead, I gave Rabun a quick run-down of the core tenets of fascism and how the nation's ruling junta and their BTN indoctrinated hordes like the DemiNegara gang are similar. Among the points I pointed out to him in my Fascism 101 crash course:
- The nation or the race transcends all other loyalties
- Seeks to purge "alien" groups that “threaten” the community
- Often promotes racial superiority doctrines
- Seeks to activate "the people" against perceived enemies
- Seeks to forcibly subordinate all spheres of society to its ideological vision
“I'm sure you can easily draw references from KidalMalas' writings that demonstrate these traits, especially in his rationale for Satu Sekolah Untuk Semua,” I concluded.
Rabun was downcast. He looked down unappetizingly at his satay and said nothing. There was no arguing with the truth – the facts were undeniable. I felt sorry for my good friend because he had been so completely sold on the gospel according to DemiNegara.
I tried to offer some consolation, “Of course, I'm not accusing Malays as a whole as fascists, merely those who are pushing for the schools to be used as tools of mass official indoctrination.”
But no words could soothe when the truth cuts deep because the truth will not go away nor can it be changed to make it less hurtful. I tried to lighten the tone of the conversation instead.
“Hey, Rabun! Why so down la? This has nothing to do with you personally la. It's just some assholes are trying to impose fascism onto the nation. Thank God it's not too bad yet! You don't have to be a part of these assholes' agenda, you know. Open your eyes a little bigger and see the world for what it really is...you'll be all right in a few days!”
“That's so typical of you pendatang!” came his fierce retort, “You think you know so much but you have no idea about how our ancestors sacrificed for our Tanah Melayu. You all come here, refuse to subordinate to the dominant culture, grab all our wealth and now you lecture us about coming out of our coconut shells?!
I could understand his defensiveness – because of his deep belief in the DemiNegara mythology, he took the fallacies and failures of their ideologies personally, as if it reflected on him as his own. I felt sorry for him, but the truth had to be known. We cannot build a nation on lies. But the next sentence out of my friend shows obviously that there were more lies in his head that needed deconstructing.
“Don't you realise that we are the Tuan Tanah of this land and that you are squatting here at our pleasure? Yet you dare to call us pendatang as well. Hey, you stupid ka? You pendatang have exploited our patience and graciousness long enough and the day will come when you will all learn your place!”
Oh boy, here we go again. I prayed for God to grant me the strength to go the whole nine yards for my friend. I looked at my watch – ok la, still got time. I looked at the pile of satay – ok la, still got a lot. I sighed and grabbed another stick.
“OK, Rabun...what else is on your mind?”
(to be continued...)