Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pendatang or not, we are all Malaysians

Gerakan Johor's Tan Lai Soon (left) was just being truthful when at his party’s national delegates conference in Selangor’s Setia Alam on Sunday, the Batu Pahat delegate had courageously claimed that the Malays should also be labeled “pendatang” (immigrants) – since they supposedly originate from Indonesia.
If we care to examine our past, indeed most of our forefathers came from near and far during different historical eras to make this place our home. So with the exception of the “orang asal” (the original people), we are all “pendatang”. Having said this, there are those who argue that Malaysia as we know it today was part of a larger Malay world Nusantara (or the Malay Archipelago). We have to remember that the borders that we know today are different from before.
In fact, I wonder if all of this is important.  What’s important, however, is that we must move on from this useless and divisive chatter. It really doesn’t matter who came here first. And let us not persist in squabbling over who among us are “pendatang” and in the process, squander the opportunity to work together and build a better future for ALL Malaysians.
That remark supposedly created a furore and Gerakan promptly suspended the member. The party would rather sacrifice their own just to please their political masters. I guess bullying a party member is simpler. Gerakan is a political eunuch, after all.
But why only act against an individual? Why not take action against everybody who had made the same type of remark? We all know who started it, don’t we?
On Tuesday, I was at Jaya One in Petaling Jaya to attend what was billed as only the second meeting of The School of Hard Knocks Toastmasters Club. When I received the meeting agenda – I knew something was not right. The exco list had only one name – the President’s. The rest of the positions were just blanks. The speeches and evaluations and nearly all of the meeting roles were taken up by 5 external Toastmasters. Two did not turn up and so the other three took up additional roles during the meeting. In fact, one Toastmaster took up 5 roles! She was Toastmaster, Table Topics Master, Speaker, Evaluator, and Grammarian.
I delivered a CC speech and I was evaluated by Satu Hati’s Victor Loh. In fact, I didn’t think it was a good speech – it was challenging to speak well in front of an audience of only six. One was the sole member of the said club – a newbie, two were Toastmasters from other clubs and three were non-Toastmaster guests who were persuaded to attend. Anyway, I am giving this meeting a half mark over 10.

This is the story I was told. The club was formerly known as Penang 7Es Toastmasters Club from Penang's Permatang Tinggi – a club that was supposed to go to its last resting place. Yet it was refused the last rites and instead it was given a new identity and then surreptitiously moved from Division N to Division C. Even if you give the club a second lease of life – how is it possible without any life support? Pray tell me, how do you sustain a club with one member?
Sigh! The things some people do in the name of Toastmasters.

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