The Malaysian Dream Unrealized: Chinese, Malay, Indians Still Living in Separate Worlds

The Malaysian Dream Unrealized: Chinese, Malay, Indians Still Living in Separate Worlds
Photo Credit:AP/達志影像

What you need to know

Does the vision of a truly multicultural Malaysia remain unrealized?

Malaysia's multicultural nature does not change the fact that there are many who do not venture beyond their own communities, says Democratic Action Party (DAP) MP Lim Kit Siang.

The veteran with 50 years experience in politics said reaching out to communities that live in isolation from other races has been the "greatest challenge" of Malaysian politics.

"In our plural society today, there are still Chinese who are living completely in the Chinese world, Malays who are living in a completely Malay world, Indians who are living in a completely Indian world, and the same goes with the Ibans and the Kadazans.

"Our greatest challenge is how to reach them, the Chinese living in a completely in the Chinese world, Malays living in a completely Malay world and the Indians living in a completely Indian world, to share with them a larger Malaysian picture and perspective – to share our ideals that this beloved Malaysian nation belongs to all of us, that we have a shared destiny," Lim said.

He said this in a statement to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the death of DAP stalwart P Patto.

Lim said this was Patto's lifelong mission and "unfinished business."

"It is no easy task. We may even fail as there is no guarantee of success. But what we can be sure of is that if this Malaysian mission fails, then there is no way that Patto’s Malaysian Dream, which we all share, can succeed.

"Patto’s Malaysian Dream is the dream of all patriotic Malaysians. We must therefore labor to realize the Malaysian Dream, whatever the odds," he said.

Fluent in multiple languages and various Chinese dialects, Patto appealed to Malaysians of all races and was at ease with all, his daughter, Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto recalled.

Lim's memories of Patto also cut across racial barriers.

In 1974, he said, they both campaigned for DAP election candidate for Alor Pongsu Che Rose Abdullah, who secured some 3,500 votes, including a significant Malay support in the area.

Patto served as DAP's Gopeng assemblyperson, Menglembu MP and Bagan MP. He died of a heart attack on July 12, 1995, at the age of 49.

The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The piece was first published on Malaysiakini.

(Launched on November 20th, 1999, Malaysiakini.com offers daily news and views in English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil.)

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole