PETALING JAYA: Those who identify themselves as Malaysian first in The Star Moderation Survey prefer to be seen for their nationality, rather than ethnic group.
Teh Kok Tiong, 46, said he “proudly” identified himself as Malaysian when travelling, even on his visits to China.
However, he believes that most Malaysians identify each other by their ethnic group.
“I’m most happy if a fellow Malaysian identifies me as a Malaysian,” said Teh.
A 27-year-old designer, who only wished to be known as Cally, said he felt uncomfortable to be identified as Chinese.
“The differences are in the past. The present is what it truly is – a hybrid of people living together in the same land,” said Cally, who were among the 5,070 people who took part in the survey.
The survey allowed respondents to also pen their thoughts about their own identity in a series of open-ended questions.
Hajar Shamsudin said because she did not look Malay, she found it sad whenever she had to convince someone of her race.
“I wish I would be identified as just a Malaysian,” said the 29-year-old, adding that her ethnicity should not matter.
Jillian Louis, 22, said she used to identify herself as being Indian first.
“But then I realised when I went abroad that this isn’t accurate because I am not from India like people assumed. I am a Malaysian. I identify with no other country. This is my home,” she said.
Zurin Bin Wok Nordin said he knows who he is and it did not bother him for people to see him as “different”.
“I am used to it as I am half-Malay and half-Chinese,” said the 45-year-old.
Khoo Soo Hay said while he saw himself as Malaysian, it was up to others to identify him in their own way.
“How he or she sees me is a reflection of his or her own character, education, race or religion,” said the 78-year-old retiree.
Another retiree, Loh Seng Yan, 61, said it was all right if others identified him as Chinese.
“It’s not a problem as long as they are not vulgar and aggressive towards me and my family. In my personal experience, politeness, tact and diplomacy usually wins,” he added.