04 August 2011

Respect and Sensibility during Ramadan and Beyond

I am a Malaysian Chinese. Fact is, Malaysia is my home. I have no other. I was born and raised here. So were my parents. So if I am told I am a pendatang, and that I should go home, where would I go?

I have a blue IC, a Malaysian passport and I am a registered voter. I just changed my address and am STILL waiting for my voting constituency to be updated. It has been more than 2 weeks now and a check on the Election Commission's website indicates that my change of voting constituency sedang diproses (being processed). I think I read somewhere that someone was granted voter status and then a Malaysian citizenship in a matter of hours. Perhaps I am mistaken?

Anyway, I ramble. I meant to write about sense and sensibility during this holy fasting month of Ramadan. It's a hot topic, what with 8TV making fools of themselves and Malaysians with their crass community message ads teaching people to behave appropriately during Ramadan. Perhaps the COO of 8TV himself needs some personal coaching on behaviour.

I think on the whole non-Muslims are very respectful and sensitive towards our fellow Malaysian Muslims who choose to fast during this time of the year. It has been drilled into us. How can we not be? Our parents remind us about it, we learn about it in school, we learn about it from our Muslim friends, and oh yes, we learn about it from community ads by 8TV.

I remember back when I was a wee primary school student, I studied in a kampung school and was the only Chinese girl in my class (the other 2 Chinese students were boys). There were a few Indians. So, most of my friends were Malays and we spoke BM in school. There were no Chinese teachers in my school at that time. During the fasting month, the non-Muslim students had to eat our food during recess in an inconspicous manner and place. I can't remember how we did it, but we did it.

When I grew up and started work, I continued to be mindful not to eat in front of my Muslim colleagues. During regular days, I might snack at my working area, but I didn't do so during the fasting month.

Moving on, I changed jobs and served my country by working for a government agency. During regular days, bottled water is provided during meetings that are anticipated to stretch for a long while. During the fasting month, no water is provided regardless of the length of the meeting. So the non-Muslims too learn to empathise with our fellow Malaysian Muslims as our throats burn dry. Nary a word of complaint.

And when we happen to be eating in the pantry/ rest & refresh area, and a Muslim colleague walks in to sit a while for a break, the non-Muslim staff usually quickly say something along the lines of, "Hope you don't mind us eating/ drinking." Never mind that the pantry IS supposed to be the place to eat, but we were nevertheless polite and respectful to the Muslim colleague who entered. Overly so, I might add.

Therefore, I really don't think there is a need for such insulting ads such as that run by 8TV. And Malaysian Muslims who have encountered such polite and respectful treatment from their fellow non-Muslim Malaysians, should really spread the good word around.

(picture courtesy of nutcrakerz.blogspot.com)

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