Sharyn Lisa Shufiyan, 24
(Tunku Abdul Rahman’s great granddaughter)
“Both my parents are Malay. My mum’s heritage includes Chinese, Thai and Arab, while my dad is Minangkabau. Due to my skin colour, I am often mistaken for a Chinese.
“I’m happy that I don’t have the typical Malay look but I do get annoyed when people call me Ah Moi or ask me straight up: “Are you Chinese or Malay?”
“Like, why does it matter? Before I used to answer ‘Malay’, but now I’m trying to consciously answer ‘Malaysian’ instead.
“There’s this incident from primary school that I remember till today. Someone told me that I will be called last during Judgement Day because I don’t have a Muslim name. Of course, I was scared then but now that I’m older, I realise that a name is just a name. It doesn’t define you as a good or bad person and there is definitely no such thing as a ‘Muslim’ name. You can be named Rashid and still be a Christian.
“I’ve heard of the 1Malaysia concept, but I think we don’t need to be told to be united. We’ve come such a long way that it should already be embedded in our hearts and minds that we are united. Unfortunately, you can still see racial discrimination and polarisation. There is still this ethno-centric view that the Malays are the dominant group and their rights must be protected, and non-Malays are forever the outsiders.
“For the concept to succeed, I think the Government should stop with the race politics. It’s tiring, really. We grew up with application forms asking us to tick our race. We should stop painting a negative image of the other races, stop thinking about ‘us’ and ‘them’ and focus on ‘we’, ‘our’ and ‘Malaysians’.
“No one should be made uncomfortable in their own home. A dear Chinese friend of mine said to me once: ‘I don’t feel patriotic because I am not made to feel like Malaysia is my home, and I don’t feel an affinity to China because I have never lived there’.
“I know some Baba Nyonya friends who can trace their lineage back hundreds of years. I’m a fourth generation Malaysian. If I am bumiputra, why can’t they be, too? Clearly I have issues with the term.
“I think the main reason why we still can’t achieve total unity is because of this ‘Malay Rights’ concept. I’d rather ‘Malay Rights’ be replaced by human rights. So unless we get rid of this bumiputra status, or reform our views and policies on rights, we will never achieve unity.
“For my Merdeka wish, I’d like for Malaysians to have more voice, to be respected and heard. I wish that the Government would uphold the true essence of parliamentary democracy. I wish for the people to no longer fear and discriminate against each other, to see that we are one and the same.
“I wish that Malaysia would truly live up to the tourism spin of ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’.