Going back some 40 years or so, when my school St. John Secondary School participated in the Independence or Merdeka parade, I was one of the many kids in the Jalur Gemilang calisthenics presentation. I was among those who made up the crescent – all dressed in yellow. The thing is, I could just as well have been one of the other colours of our flag – , blue, white or even red! There has been so much going on in Malaysia lately and one troubling development is the racializing of two of the colours of our flag – Yellow and Red . The dearth of Malay participants in the Bersih 4 rally in August 2015 due to the withdrawal of PAS gave rise to a visible difference in ethnic composition. The Bersih yellow became susceptible to the insinuation that it was a signifier for the Chinese and their interest. Yellow is, of course, the colour of a movement for integrity, clean elections, transparency and so on. Some say however that it stands for the opposition, for non-Malays and even specifically for the ethnic Chinese. What about the Red then? Red was the colour chosen to by the Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu rally organized to protest the yellows and their apparent challenge to Malay hegemony. Red, diversely, stands for the Malays, the interests of Prime Minister Najib Razak, for chauvinists or alternatively, simple grassroots folks. In my view all the above are correct. Malaysia is an embodiment of all these differences. Just as the jalur gemilamg harmonizes the three jarring primary colours, I believe our nation can move through the present conflicts, towards a more harmonious future. As Malaysians, we know from our post-independence experience, that the balm that best soothes and heals our ethnic strife is a thriving economy. Yes! For better or worse, and with implications for the well being of the peoples of my new home in BC, I too wonder if, in the communion between societal and economic imperatives, that indeed … Cash is King!
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