Wednesday, 26 September 2007

One Race, Two Views?

On Sunday, the Star runs a rather interesting article on the Chinese community in Malaysia. Essentially, the article highlights that there are two distinct groups of Chinese community in Malaysia. The first group, called G1, comprises Chinese who "subscribe to the concept of the three pillars (Chinese Media, Chinese Schools and Chinese Organisations) for the simple reason that they make up 85-90% of the 6.5 million Chinese in the country. The remaining 10-15% are, for want of a better term, referred to as the English-speaking group (G2). The G2 encompasses those who are not Chinese-educated; they speak English and include a large number of Christians, the peranakan and also those who are part of the Lions and Rotary Clubs set."

It is interesting to note that according to this report, Chinese Chritians in Malaysia belong to the so-called G-2 group, a group that are labelled "as “bananas,” meaning they are yellow outside (Chinese), but white inside (pro-Western culture). Or, as the Hokkiens would put it a little more explicitly, the G2 folk “chiak ang moh sai” (have eaten too much Western s**t). There's no denying that the G2 are more open to Western ideas and ideals.

"Their ideas of governance, democracy, role of the media and even elections are influenced by the West, namely Britain and the United States. They like to say these are universal ideals even though half the world does not subscribe to the way the Americans and British think,” said Fui K. Soong, director of Insap, a political think tank affiliated to MCA.

In addition, the articles reports that "the G2 are issue-oriented. They are influenced by issues and their votes swing from one election to another. They are mostly middle-class, articulate and prone to take issues to the press and in recent years into the Internet...The Chinese, it is often said, are quite inscrutable about their politics but not this group. They are not afraid to air their political views or who they will vote for.

“They are so articulate about their grievances that people think, ‘oh dear, the entire Chinese community is upset’.But actually, their views reflect mainly those in this English-speaking group,” said Soong.

The G2 have been the most critical of the ruling party in recent years.

The Christians in the G2 are particularly concerned about the issue of Islamic state. According to Soong, the survival of the common law and the secular state is very important to this group because it guarantees their modern lifestyle and for the Christians, the freedom to practise their faith.

Their fears about the Islamic State is very real and emotional because they see it as a threat to Christianity. The fear comes from deep in the gut,” she said.

Read the rest of the article here.

It is rather interesting that Chinese Christians are labelled as such in the article. There is no denying that many Chinese believers in the Klang Valley belong to the group called G-2 in the article. It is even more interesting to note that Christians are particularly interested in the issue of Islamisation because of their concern for "their modern lifestyles...and the freedom to practise their faith." Islamisation is seen as "a threat to Christianity."

I could not help but to think whether Chinese Christians in Malaysia are only known as champions of freedom to practise Christianity and not freedom of religion in Malaysia? Are we only concerned about our "modern lifestyles" and conveniently turn our eyes away from the needs of the marginalised and those on the lower strata of society? Are we really blind? Are we really a group of selfish people who only care for ourselves?

On a personal note - what about me? To which group do I belong as a Chinese Christian in Malaysia? I am not sure whether I belong to G-1 or G-2. I grew up in the category of G-1 (well, at least Chinese educated) but now I think I belong to G-2 (I speak, dream and think in English, not Chinese. I read English newspaper instead of Chinese. I teach in English, and not Chinese, in the seminary. I worship in an English, not Chinese, speaking church). Perhaps a new category needs to be created, the G-3, to describe me. Or, perhaps I'm just simply confused - a result of theological education? Hmmm...


BK said...

thanks for drawing attention to this article. It really is a thought-provoking read. I've thought about this quite a bit in recent years, due partly i guess to studying English Lit at uni and partly having gotten involved in international (mainly Asia-centric) work in English churches here in the UK.

I think I'm a definite G2. But I know what you mean about needing a G3. sometimes i think i suffer effects similar to those of "third culture kids"!

Kar Yong said...

Hi BK,

Haha...I guess I have some similar experience as yours while I was doing my theological studies both in the US and in the UK.

pearlie said...

Oh boy... I seriously had no idea you were Chinese educated :) interesting ...

Kar Yong said...

Dear Pearlie,

Haha - you learned something today. Some say I hide the fact that I am Chinese educated pretty well....

pearlie said...

Yup, you did!