One of the people that Walski can say, without an iota of hesitation, that he’s been privileged to meet, as a side-effect of his blogging, has been Dr. Farish A. Noor.
Among other things, Farish is the Senior Fellow at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technical University (NTU), Singapore where he is Director of Research for the Research Cluster on Transnational Religion in Southeast Asia (source: The Other Malaysia).
He is also one of the core members of the socio-politi-cultural research website, The Other Malaysia, through which, Walski has managed to gain much insight about Farish’s views on local and regional history, and the impact of that history on what we know today as Malaysia.
In an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini TV, Farish talks about the forces that have shaped our nation to what we know it to be today.
Warning: If you were born after 1980, some of what Farish has to say may shatter your view of Malaysia as you know it. Worse case, it may open your mind a bit.
From the scant 9-some minutes, one thing becomes painfully clear – we have regressed as a society, where communal (be it ethnic or religious) concerns have never been at a more heightened state.
Walski will be keeping a close eye out for the continuation of the interview. Offhand, he doesn’t actually know how many more parts there are.
(Walski’s own personal 2-bits, in the full post)
From an age perspective, Farish Noor is Walski’s contemporary, both born in the 60’s. In some ways, too, we both have at least one other thing in common – both Farish and Walski lived in East Malaysia for an appreciable period of time, during both their growing up years.
For Walski (as with Farish), it was Sabah, in the latter part of 1970’s. From what he can remember, Sabah in those days was a lot more cohesive as a society, where ethnicity and roots, while recognized and appreciated, never became the core of social existence and basis of interaction. If ever there was any resentment, it was against us “West Malaysians”. Even then, being a young teenager having his first taste of secondary school, he interacted freely with his friends, bar none – ethnic roots was never a concern.
Perhaps it’s the oblivious innocence of being at that age. But Walski somehow thinks that it’s more than that. It was perhaps the absence of continuously being reminded about ethnicity and religion, not in terms of mutual respect and understanding, but as the basis of exclusivity and segregation.
In 30-some years, Walski has noticed that the emphasis on ethnicity and, increasingly these days, religion, is progressively becoming institutionalized. We are made aware, nay, constantly reminded, about these two aspects of our society at every turn. It’s become almost second nature to ask what ethnicity someone is, if some ethnic stereotypical feature ambiguity exists.
All this has not happened out of a vacuum. It is something that has regressively developed over the last 3 decades.
The big question is, however, develop until what point?
There are two possible answers – explosion/implosion is one. But the more desirable outcome, however, is progression in the reverse direction.
In Walski’s mind, at least.
He always believes that there is a way, if there is a will. But collectively as one nation, do we have that will?
Incidentally, there is one word that Walski has purposely avoided in this post. The clue lies in the video you (hopefully) watched. He’s sure that you’ll figure it out, eventually.
There are (up to) two additional questions that Walski wishes to ask you: does the concept embodied in that missing word define you as a person?
If you answered “No”, then you’ve pretty much reached the end of this post.
But if you answered “Yes”, Walski would really like to know, WHY?