Heart and Soul: Proud to be Malaysian

Being a multiracial country is one of Malaysia’s strongest points. — The Star/Filepic

Years ago, when there were no restrictions on travelling, my husband and I were in the UK visiting our children who were studying there.

One Sunday, we had lunch at a local pub and were enjoying the Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding when a middle-aged British couple came to our table.

They apologised for their intrusion but they were very curious as to where we were originally from.

They had overheard our conversation and were taken aback at the way we spoke the English language. “Are you Japanese, Chinese from China or Hong Kong, or Korean?”

We said we were Malaysian Chinese.

We invited them to have a cuppa with us. Being a proud Malaysian, I started to tell them about Malaysia truly Asia.

I told them that they should make Malaysia their next holiday destination. Malaysia has so much to offer – pristine beaches, an array of delicious food, so much to see in this multiracial country and more importantly so affordable especially with their British pound.

There is so much about Malaysia that I am proud of. To start of with, there’s freedom of religion. Being a Christian, I happily worship in church on Sundays. My Hindu and Buddhist friends pray in their respective temples, and the Muslims in the mosques.

In Seremban where I live, in an area known as Temiang, there is a mosque next to an Indian temple and a Chinese temple. Is that not unusual?

My overseas friends who have visited Malaysia never fail to tell their friends that in Malaysia you can enjoy roti canai for breakfast, a hearty nasi lemak with fried chicken and squid sambal for lunch, and a delicious steamboat for dinner. At midnight, if you are hungry, the mamak stalls are open for you to have fried Maggi mee and a cup of teh tarik, and you hunger no more.

Malaysia is fortunate that we do not experience tsunami, earthquakes or typhoons.

Last December, the dreaded floods shocked the nation. But Malaysians rose to the occasion. Many people came forward to provide food and other basic necessities. A fantastic example was when the Sikh community cooked food and distributed it to the flood victims.

Many others helped to clean the affected houses and provided help in cash and kind. In my neighbourhood, our housing estate chairman went to the neighbouring village and discovered the victims were in dire need of towels. So he sent a WhatsApp message to the residents, and the committee started a donation drive. We collected the money and bought the towels. A group of us went to deliver the items.

We saw how the people in that village had lost most, if not all, of their belongings. When we were there, we saw huge donations of mattresses, rice cookers, and bedding given by other Malaysians. I was proud that we Malaysians came together to help, irrespective of race and religion.

On festive occasions, we celebrate one another’s cultural festivals. We used to have open house and invite our friends over but with Covid, this was not possible. But on Hari Raya, my Malay neighbour delivered a delicious lunch to my family, comprising her homemade rendang, ketupat, lemang and dodol made by her mother.

On Deepavali, my Indian neighbour down the road brought us her out-of-this-world mutton briyani, chicken curry and homemade muruku for dinner. During Chinese New Year, I bought halal chicken rice and and sent it to their homes, together with mandarin oranges.

So I am proud to be a Malaysian, born and bred here.

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