Monday, September 07, 2009

My Racists Encounters

Disclaimer Note: This article was written for the Anak Bangsa Malaysia groups that I am part of. I would like to stress that what ever that has happened in the article below are real and just because the "race"* of a certain group of people is mentioned, it does not mean that all the people who belong to that "race"* are bad; on that note, I would like to remind you that I am not racist but the incidents below are to demonstrate that there are certain quarters of people who are still racists.

I had to mention the ethnicity of the people I was dealing with to stress the point I am getting at.

I personally choose to accept anyone as my friends, housemates and even family so long as they have an open mind as I do. So you may be of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Martian, Klingon ethnicity or dan lain-lain, You are still my "hommie".

The content of the post below is not to offend anyone (of any race) except YOU RACISTS out there!

Please feel free to comment.

*Race - I put it in quotes because if we stress to do away with racial profiling, we should first do away with referring to people on where their ancestors came from. I believe the proper word should be ethnicity. Because here in this beautiful country, there should be only 1 race, that is Malaysian.

Before I start, let me share some information about myself. I am 28
years old and have been working in KL for 6 years as I hail from the
"GREAT" state of Penang (yes, I am proud of it, they did not pay well
in Penang so I had to come here...different story altogether :D).
Anyway, when i moved to KL after I graduated I did not live with
relatives or whatsoever except for the 1st couple of days with my
close friend Hyzer (of whom had "emigrated" to KL too) since I had yet
to find a place to rent.

Okay, now to where I am getting at; During my search for rooms to rent
in the Klang Valley I was always asked the first golden question, "Are
you chinese ah?" and I was at the crossroads at that time as I did not
know whether to answer Indian or Malaysian as the next question would
be..."ya Malaysian I oso Malaysian but what race are you?"

When I mentioned Indian, I always got turned down saying "sorry, for
Chinese only". These situations had deeply bothered me. But, the first
room I rented in PJ was from a Chinese national who has been living
here for some time. I will never forget her as she looked after me
like a mother! Can you believe a landlady who would offer to do your
laundry because she was subletting another unit that had a washing
machine and she saw me one day washing my clothes and offered to wash
it for me and mind you, she would fold the clothes too!

It saddened me that I had to move out of the place as I could not
afford the rent because I had other commitments and being a fresh grad
at that time, my pay was not that great especially when you're working
in the Klang Valley. My landlady was saddened too but she could not do
anything to reduce the rent because the rent for the apartment had
gone up too.

Once again I had to go out and search for rooms and again I was faced
with the same questions so much so that I had to swallow my pride and
put on a thick face and answer the questions because I was desperate
to get the room and just in a hope that even when I admit that I am
"Indian" they would still give me a place to stay; but talk about
wishful thinking...

Finally I got a place to stay and it was not with my fellow people of
Chinese ethnicity. Why did I not look for Malay house mates you may
ask, well there weren't any adds from my fellow Malay people (this is
just for those who might think I am racist for only looking for non-
Malay housemates) It was purely happenstance that I did not find any
Malay house mates to live with.

Then, I had to move from the current place I was living in at that
time too as I got a job in Cyberjaya. I was moving to Puchong this
time. Again, same questions over and over again. But, I finally found
a place and it was this very nice woman who was of Chinese ethnicity
who gave me a place. She did not ask for my race, religion or
whatsoever. All she wanted was to have someone look after the place as
she was leaving to work in Singapore. This is where I invited my best
friend and rap group member, Ishaq (Agip) to come and live with me
since I rented the whole place. Those were fun days as we used to have
LAN video games and such (again different story for a different day).

I went on to live there for a year until my contract ended. Then I
moved on closer to Cyberjaya. Once again, same questions but this time
I just mustered my courage and asked if it was a problem and the real
estate agent just told me that the owner is looking for "Chinese"
tenants. Okay, so anyway once again my friends and I managed to find a
place and once again it was this pleasant couple (of Chinese
ethnicity) who gave us place. They looked at us and just said..."ah
you young graduates, very good to see you people". See the situation
here is not that he looked at us as people of a different ethnicity
but just as young, decent and working men. I do not understand why do
other people not get that fact? Why does "race" always have to come
into the picture.

Wait, I am not done yet. This time, we were looking for housemates to
rent some of the extra rooms we had. So, we put up an add and I signed
the add with my name that I am most commonly addressed by; "Vick". I
had students call up and ask "are you Chinese ah?" I would be like
"what the %^&^* ?" firstly because I believe I have a distinct Indian
Malaysian accent and secondly "why the hell does it matter?" I am
renting the place out and I don't bloody mind of which creed, breed or
planet you're from. All I want is someone who is clean and tidy and
not noisy, that's it. I even had people call in and come to the place
to see the room and when they saw me they were like "eh, you not
Chinese ah?" on my face, yes!

So, those were the days of my bachelorhood. Then, I got married (in
February this year) and moved out and I am still living in a rented
unit but with a wonderful landlord who has taught me a lot in how to
look for a house and teaching me how to do basic repair work in the
house as he sees me as a young married man and prepping me for a house
that I would buy in the future and be ready for the little stuff that
can be done which would save us money instead of calling a plumber,
electrician, etc. Again, he is of Chinese ethnicity and again, he is
someone who saw us as a married couple and he was not concerned about
our "race" but shared his wisdom with us. Not many people are generous
with their knowledge regardless of "race"

Recently, I called a real estate agent who had placed an add in the
paper about a house for sale, and guess what? He asks me if I am
Chinese? "WHAT THE .......?" I am buying the unit not renting it...why
the hell does it matter. I am not buying it directly from them and
even if i default on payments if you think that's what other "races"
do, then it is the bank whom should be concerned! not the real estate

These are just some of the examples of racism that I have faced out of
many. BUT with the examples of people that I have mentioned above,
THERE IS STILL HOPE as most of the people who gave me a place to live were people of Chinese descent and I cannot stress more on how they saw me as a fellow Malaysian and not as someone of a different "race"! My request would be for everyone in this group to
please educate your friends, children, family members to see beyond
the colour of skin. I am not perfect, I grew up in a neighbourhood of
serious stereotyping and most of the time, I am the victim. I am
changing my mindset, I want my children to grow up in a non race
biased system, in a colour blind society and to keep it short and

With Regards,
Vicknesharajan "Vick" Amarthalingam


Devanandan Batumalai said...

Very well written Vixx. I must say, racism is very present here in Malaysia. What are we going to do? Embrace it and think to ourselves, screw it, people are racist and nothing can be done. Or be Malaysian and spread the message of living as a united Malaysia and not a "Chinese" , "Indian" or whatever.

Ben Lim said...

Recently I have a room to let and put up an advertisement. There are responses from a few Malay some female but being a Chinese male Buddhist and staying alone,it is more a religious matter not a racist issue. I finally rented out the room to a foreigner from Sri Lanka.