Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Between Ah Beng & Danny Wong

Overseas Chinese? No?! British Chinese?? No?!! Malaysian Chinese? Yes..? No..?!
How about Malaysian?
err…. eerrr… ummm…. mmmm…. What is a Malaysian identity again???!! (Try answering those questions listed down below).

Let us look at an article written by Daniel Wong, a UK Lawyer,  who calls himself a British (not Chinese), whose ancestral family was originally from China, moved to Malaysia and finally (the grandparents) settled in Britain. Let’s call him Danny, a second generation born in Britain.

Danny said he is not “overseas Chinese” (1) as opposed to Ah Beng (credit to Pure Shiite), who “cari makan” in Malaysia but calls himself a Chinese. Unlike Ah Beng who goes around yelling “I am Chinese”, Danny is annoyed by being identified as “Chinese” (2).  “I AM BRITISH, NOT CHINESE”(3), said Danny. So Ah Beng, what are you? 

Let me re-write to emphasize what Danny had said, “..my values, culture, and family are British. I believe in the virtues of fair play, civility, the Queen, and afternoon tea, not connections, filial piety, banquets, and the unity of the nation..(4). Wow! What a nation building, unity statement. What do you say Ah Beng? Lu atak faham Malayu? Muleh ciakap Malayu? Lu tau sapa itu Laja-Laja Malayu ka? Lu ala makan itu sambal bilacan ka?  

Well Danny’s generation had been to Malaysia before settling in Britain. Let’s touch about that afterward. 
Danny, being a British, is still proud of his Chinese heritage. Who is not? Ask those Mat Jawa, Mat Minang, Mat Bugis, Keturunan Syed and the rest. So Ah Beng, lu apa pasat manyak bising, manyak libih lu punya cinna? Lu mana-mana peligi aah, ciakap itu cinna jugak, basa Malayu bo liau! Itu sikolah, mau cinna jugak? Apa pasat?  Ala sikolah jinis kibangsaan Jawa ka? Sana sini ala ciakap Minang kaa? Ala kasi tulis itu Bugis lalam itu advertisement ka?

Between British and Chinese government, Danny will far more likely to back British (5) Lu sini mali Ah Beng!. Lu SINI baca! Talak selupa itu Ah Dane, lu Ah Beng cinna kominis jugak! Lu ingat sini tempat makan belak makan belak kaa Ah Beng?!! Ah Dane ciakap,Our identity is with our home country, not the country of our ancestors”(6). Lu cali makan sini, belak sini, lu angkat itu cinna kominis juga? Lu punya home konteli kaa? Lu balik tong sang la itu maciam! Lu melajar ini mutut-mutut. Kasi masuk lalam lu punya kipala otak. Kasi kow-kow lalam lu punya ati ini balang – balang Malayu punya olang punya ciakap – “DI MANA BUMI DIPIJAK, DI SITU LANGIT DIJUNJUNG”. Sikalang Ah Beng, lu pilih mana lu mau pijak! Lu mau INI kaa?! Atau lu mau jadi olang Malaysia? Atau lu mau ikut sama itu Ah Dane?. Mana lu luluk, lu junjung la langit itu timpat! Haiyaa!! Jangan jadi manyak cibai kasi hulu hala olang punya negeli! Olang Malaysia lu kasi hantam “telaitor” (7) sama lia. Lu kominis lagi hantu “telaitor” manyak busar worr!

Now let’s us get back to Danny when he mentioned that his generation migrated to Malaysia before settling down in Britain. Read what he said, labeled (8) and (9) below.

Looks like the true color of Daniel Wong is showing here. Danny seems to be no better than Ah Wong, no worse than Ah Beng. He seems to accuse “other Asian nations” practicing discrimination against Chinese like him but quickly followed his accusation with this statement – “..maintained a strong sense of separate cultural identity..” Discrimination? When you maintain a strong sense of separate cultural identity,  upholding those much against the homeland identity, isn’t that a SELF-DISCRIMINATION act? Wonder Daniel Wong will remain Danny or became Ah Wong had his grandparents not migrated to Britain.

Or was it because the British will not let anyone fool around with their national language and the law & order of Britain that Ah Wong had no choice but to become Danny, denouncing his "Chinese"?

And was it because "kerana ketiadaan telur maka kura-kura dibiarkan memanjat hingga ke pelepah" that Ah Beng merrily inching his way to establish a mini-communist china, the so-called, overseas chinese in Malaysia?

By Daniel Wong
I have a US friend who bristles every time someone refers to him as "African-American."
With great patience and a touch of anger, he points out that his family's last contact with Africa was four centuries ago, about the same time as most other American families came from England, and yet nobody refers to them as "English-American," or even "European-American."

I feel the same way about being referred to as "overseas Chinese."(1)

Admittedly, it's the least of my frustrations every time I visit China. I have to put up with taxi drivers who congratulate my Western-looking friends on being able to say "Ni hao" while chastising me for any grammatical slip or error of tone.

But it's still a perennial source of irritation. Maybe it's petty of me to be so annoyed by it, but my identity is important to me.(2)

My family were originally from China, yes. But the last time any of my ancestors was born on the mainland was about a century and a half ago, at a guess, before we moved from Fujian to Malaysia, and from then, two generations ago, to the UK.

I'm proud of my Chinese heritage, but I'm no more "overseas Chinese" than my colleague whose grandparents moved here from Poland is an "overseas Pole."

I'm British, not Chinese (3). I don't just mean in terms of my passport or my birthplace, I mean that my values, culture, and family are British. I believe in the virtues of fair play, civility, the Queen, and afternoon tea, not connections, filial piety, banquets, and the unity of the nation.(4)

When it comes to international issues, I'm far more likely to back the British than the Chinese government's (5) viewpoint.

I might have an East Asian face, but so do many other Brits, whether their ancestors came from Thailand, the Phillipines, Korea, or China.

And in my experience all this goes for the vast majority of people of Chinese descent born in Britain. Our identity is with our home country, not the country of our ancestors.(6)

We might celebrate Spring Festival as well as Christmas, but our primary loyalty is always going to be to our own nation. Lumping us all together as "overseas Chinese" is as patronizing and insulting as lumping most Americans, Australians, and Canadians as "overseas British" or South Americans as "overseas Spanish."

It's even worse when it comes to overblown ethnic-national rhetoric. I like the Chinese just fine, but they're no more my brothers than any other people. I probably have more in common, in terms of politics, culture, and interests with the average Dane than the average Chinese citizen. When I'm accused of being a traitor (7) to my people by some overblown child on an Internet forum, I point out to him that my people aren't his people, whatever vague genetic or cultural links we might share.

There are certain cases when it makes sense to use the term. People born in China who live overseas, sure. Even Chinese communities in other Asian nations have often experienced ethnic discrimination and maintained a strong sense of separate cultural identity. (8)

One of the reasons my grandparents moved from Malaysia to the UK was to escape the restrictions of being "Chinese" in that country.(9) Even there, the picture isn't clear-cut; one of my great-grandmother was a Malay who married into a Chinese family.

In the UK, though, I'm legally no different from anybody else, no matter where their  parents came from. I don't want to be hived off from my own nation by an arbitrary distinction based on my remote ancestors.

The Chinese are a great people, and I'm proud of my heritage. But I'm prouder of being British.
The author is a UK lawyer. viewpoint@gloabltimes.com.cn

What Is A Malaysian Identity?

"Satu Bangsa, Satu Negara, Satu Bahasa" adalah tepat untuk menuju kepada "... a homogeneous society defined by nationality, the proverbial and oft-quoted Bangsa Malaysia, the Malaysian race..."
What then is the Malaysian race?
What language should a Malaysian speak?
What culture and mannerisms?
What shared values and philosophies?
What inner-consciousness?
What sense of shared identity?
What sense of shared destiny?
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