PETALING JAYA: Most of those who took part in a two-day survey by The Star Online identified themselves as Malaysian first, not as a member of an ethnic group.
On Facebook, Eman Ashaari said he did not belong to any race, adding that he was “simply a proud Malaysian”.
Jon Won took it a step further by being “Malaysian first, Malaysian second, Malaysian third and so on” while Joachim Ardiles Jukie saw himself as “a child of the nation first”.
“I believe unity is the key to our country’s development,” he wrote.
To Diana Yahya Norazmi, the answer is obvious. “Malaysian lah. I am part Chinese, Indian and Malay. So, tick all three?” she said, referring to the race columns on official forms.
Jay Prakash Govindarajoo asked his friend Shankar Muniandy if he recalled a lesson from their “Malaysian-first” teacher.
“Remember what our Cikgu Zainal Abidin taught us in primary school? We are people of Malaysia, not people of India or China.”
A commenter, going by the alias Myocho Kan, said he did not “have to mention anything” for others to know that he was a Malaysian.
“Many years ago, I was at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport. While walking with an Indian friend and resting my hand on his shoulder, a shop attendant came up to us and said: ‘You guys from Malaysia, right’?
“I asked how he knew (and) he replied: ‘Only in Malaysia people from different kinds are very close.’ Wow! Proud to be Malaysian!”
Some commenters wondered why official forms still had columns for the different races.
Bobby Ang said whenever he filled non-government forms, he would tick Lain-Lain (Others) and wrote “Malaysian” in the blank space.
“Especially banks – let them know we hate the race column,” he urged.
Some, like Kumeresen Vairavan, felt that discourse in Malaysia should move beyond race after 57 years of independence.
Besides their love for the nation, others felt an allegiance to their place of origin, with Wari Bhuvanes writing that “always feel Malaysian. Then my state, orang Melaka (person of Malacca)”.
Many like Shangkara Rao and Napsiah Wan Salleh identified themselves as Malaysians when abroad.
“When in Malaysia, I am a Malay,” Napsiah added.
According to the survey, few did not first identify with their nationality.
Azam Ayob said race and nationality were merely “cosmetic” to him, stating that “I am a Muslim, no matter where I am”.
Olevia Donald was a proud member of her ethnic group, writing that “I am Dusun, from North Borneo (Sabah)”.