My first memory as a child was living in a house in Jitra situated beside a road that led to a Chinese cemetery. From time to time I would be witness to Chinese funeral processions as they made their way towards the resting place of the deceased.
I also remembered my grandfather's house in Kampong Kassippilay in Sentul. His house was surrounded by Chinese and Indians neighbors whose children became my friends in those times when we came back to KL from wherever it was my father was serving as a Police Officer to visit my grandfather and grandmother. We knew each other by sight if not by names and though our times together were fleeting it was enough for me to understand that the Chinese and Indians were part of the world I lived in.
In my first job with MNI our MD was an Indian. And when I left MNI to sell burgers in Padang Brown in Penang I got my supplies from the Chinese owned Cold Storage, my gas was supplied by a Mamak who delivered them as needed and my neighbors to the left, right, center and back at where I lived in Island Glades were all Chinese.
The Alliance were in power then. Umno was the dominant partner in the coalition but there was a Chinese Finance Minister and I remembered Sambathan as being a senior Minister. in the cabinet.There were Indians, Chinese and Malays in opposition and these were the time when decent man and women could still be found amongst those who were in politics.
We were all Malaysian then.
Today in Malaysia there are still Malays, Chinese, Indians, Orang Asli, Dayaks, Ibans and a host of other races jostling with pendatangs from Indonesia, Burma and Thailand for living space and the opportunity to earn a decent living.
There are Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheist and Muslims too.
Some like the Hindus are desperately clinging on to the last vestiges of whatever is left of their temples that have not been destroyed in the name of progress and urban sprawl to benefit commercial interest.
The Christians are stoically enduring a losing battle against the all conquering Islam - an Islam that have found renewed vigor from the Muslim politicians who only know too well what religion can do to advance their political agenda.
And for the other religion they take whatever morsel are thrown their way.
There are gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender living amongst us - all non-persons living unrecognized by the authorities and like all marginalized groups that has no significant electoral pull, they are at best ignored and bereft of any rights, at worse, prosecuted and persecuted without respite.
Today amongst all these people living in Malaysia you will be hard pressed to find any Malaysians.
You will find Indians who rightly consider themselves marginalized and ignored by the government, by the other races and even by their own political leaders.
You find that the Chinese are a race upon themselves. They are quietly confident that whatever the odds to be faced they have within themselves the ability to survive and survive well. You would not be wrong to think that amongst the Chinese there is a solidarity of purpose to ignore any limitations, overcome any hindrance and surmount any barrier impose upon them by this Umno led BN government to make life for them just that more challenging.
East Malaysia is East Malaysia and never shall the East be Malaysians in any way but name.
And then there are the Malays.
Legally the Malays are first amongst equals. That position is well secured in every which way by the political will of Umno. Whether that dominance is to be used to the advantage of the Malays or to advance the cause of Umno is moot. Suffice to say that for now both are advantaged by the dominance of the Malays over all things Malaysians.
And so we see the gradual but relentless breakdown of the Malaysia we once knew. In short there are less Malaysian today then there were a decade ago even as our population increase.
We have lost millions of Malaysians who have migrated not to just seek a better life elsewhere but more to flee from a Malaysia that no longer wants them.
More worrying for our people and our nation is that relentless process of divide and rule that his Umno led BN government choose to impose upon a population that once had as its rallying cry - Unity in Diversity.
Every day in every way the diversity is accentuated and everyday in every way Malaysians are becoming an endangered species.How can it not be endangered if the Malays, the most dominant of Malaysian, are now turning Malaysia into their own nation? A Malaysia only for the Malays, for Muslims and for no other? And all this is done not in the name of Ketuanan Melayu but in the name of Ketuanan Umno! A corrupt, arrogant and irresponsible Umno!
Today any hand of friendship extended to those not of your race, your religion , your political affiliation is suspect. Too many of us that have once lived peacefully side by side with each other now eye each other with suspicion.
Dislike now borders on hate.
Suspicion of each others intent and purpose are now common as each race are focused on self preservation in these times of racial and religious paranoia. With each passing day we become more alienated from each other and isolation becomes the norm as we retreat into our last bastion against insecurity, against real or perceived danger to our kind - retreat into the comfort of our own kind, our own race and our own religion.
But in truth it is not race or religion that is the problem.
Politics is the problem.
The human mind has always been moralistic, judgemental and self righteous when left to its own devices. Imagine what the human mind would do if this processed was helped along by government intent upon using race and religion to advance its political agenda to continue in government no matter what!
Good people have now become bad because of this.
Today the social pressure from one's peers to distance oneself from others of a different race, religion and political affiliation is enormous, difficult to ignore and most have succumb to the pressure.
There are some amongst us who tries to make some sense of this madness but to date none has succeeded to any degree that could somehow arrest the headlong plunge our nation is now heading into the madness of politics that use race and religion as its weapon of choice to dominate the population.
That is why I say that Malaysian are now an endangered species. Politics, race and religion have made it so and politics, race and religion will ensure the extinction of that species!