Last friday, the 21st July, the school where I worked at celebrated Racial Harmony day. I saw many students and teachers decked in beautiful and colourful costumes – the Malay baju kurongs or the Indian Sherwani and Saris, and a few Chinese Cheongsams.
As I admired their lovely costumes, and smiled at the laughing and chattering students, I reflect back and visualise what happened on this same day about 40 years ago.
Though I wasnt there to witness it, I could picture it in my mind. Especially when I see a photograph, its easy for me to immerse myself in the atmosphere, and to see, to hear and even feel what was going on.
The racial riots of 1964. 36 people dead. 556 injured. Needless deaths and injuries due to the lack of understanding between different races and propagated with much hatred between the Chinese and the Malays.
The Maria Hertogh riots is another haunting event that must never be forgotten. A simple adoption between a Dutch and a Malay, to turn out with a riot with many injured and deaths.
May we hope and pray that nothing like this should ever happen for our future.
I feel Racial Harmony day should transcend from just the wearing of traditional clothes to the deeper appreciation of the freedom and liberty we have now.
But one question nags my mind. If we emphasized so much on race, does that make us racist?