One of the biggest challenges that Malaysia face today is its issue of being multi-racial. The percentage of the three main ethnic race in the country – Malays, Chinese and Indians are quite significant. And then there are the 2 more prominent races – the Ibans in Sarawak, and the Kadazans in Sabah.
This sometimes is an issue here for each race would like to see the ‘survival’ of their race which include preserving their culture and traditions. And, the economic pie has to be divided equally to not single out any race, and to ensure that the pie is actually shared by all races.
There maybe some discomfort amongst the races. However, Malaysia has actually succeeded to balance that, at least to one large extent.
For one, this is one unique country where each race can clearly practice their own culture and traditions. Just take a walk at the major cities and a foreigner will be awed at how many different language signboards are all around – the use of the national language, Bahasa Malaysia in major road signs, signboards accompanied by the use of the international language of English… and the Chinese shops having Chinese characters.
In fact, we’ve had many foreigner friends who were quite awed by it and have highlighted this as something good in the country. Even when ordering food, tourists can be very comfortable here. Many city folks speak decent English. And for the Chinese or Indian tourists, they can be quite comfortable being able to order in their own mother tongue eg ordering in Mandarin/ Cantonese or Tamil/ Hindi.
Another part of multi racial Malaysia living harmoniously together is the declaration of public holiday for each race’s festive celebration. From Hari Raya to the Chinese New Year and Deepavali, each race can celebrate joyously every year.
That is why Malaysia is indeed ‘Truly Asia’. It is here that we have the many races living side by side, rather harmoniously actually.
This may come as a big surprise – a contradict to what is mainly reported in the press. In our research and doing the 50+1 Malaysia book, the one thing that many Malaysian respondents are proud of the country is actually the many races in the country living together. And the foreigners are awed by it too!
From the way we see it, Malaysians though may care about their perseverance of race & culture, but above all they love the country. And their hope – a peaceful country that will continue to progress steadily.