Malaysia gained its independence 64 years ago but why do we still suffer from this postcolonialism hangover?
Our country is home to people from all over the world but at this point, one can’t help but notice the disparity in how some foreigners are treated. While Asian immigrants are treated with anger and disrespect, the same can’t be said for Western foreigners who get the glamorous title of “expatriates”.
Mahamood Mubarak shared an experience he allegedly faced which solidified the statement above. While getting his second dose of vaccination at a prominent PPV on 25 July, he claimed to hear one of the volunteers saying to a group of Indonesian immigrants, “Lane kiri untuk Bangla je, Malaysia ikut kanan“. (Left lane is for Banglas, Malaysians go to the right lane)
He could have said “lane kanan untuk rakyat malaysians. Untuk non-citizen, sila ikut lane kiri”
Omg “bangla”. I was never disrespected that way outside Malaysia. This country needs more than Jesus.
— Mahamood Mubarak (@MahamoodMubarak) July 25, 2021
“He could have said “right lane for Malaysians and for non-citizens, go to the left lane. When I travelled out of Malaysia, I never faced this type of disrespect.”
Put a stop to “Bangla”!
Firstly, let’s just put this out there that “Bangla” is a slur propagated by Malaysians themselves and is also used as a blanket term for all Asian immigrants. Speaking to WORLD OF BUZZ, Mahamood said he felt angry and upset that the migrants had to go through such treatments.
He added that when he was abroad for his studies, he was never reminded that he was an outsider and he got the same treatment as everyone else, be it, the police station, hospital or the university, When he saw what happened to the migrants was disturbing because the action didn’t dignify the migrants as equal human beings.
“I grew up in an environment that celebrated migrants. To see migrants being mistreated and not handled in a respectful way, made me question, what kind of upbringing or exposure does the general population have about migrants in Malaysia?”
Mahamood said that his parents being migrants themselves realised the struggles of being an outsider in the country. This made them more accommodating to migrants and those who are in need. “Perhaps, we realised that everyone is equal and we should be kind to everyone,” he added.
Ethics and manners briefing for volunteers
In regards to the situation at the PPV, he feels that the volunteers should be given an ethics briefing in handling everyone regardless of race. If it’s about better service to the migrants at the PPV, the government or the agencies responsible for the migrants’ vaccination can make the vaccination process more migrant-friendly.
One way is to get volunteers who can speak the migrants’ native language to ease their worries. “They are paying taxes and are part of our nation-building, so why can’t we give them the services they deserve especially during the pandemic,” Mahamood said.
WORLD OF BUZZ has since reached out to JKJAV for a statement about this alleged incident but have yet to hear back from them.
“I think it’s rooted in our upbringing to see that some Asian immigrants are of a lower class compared to other immigrants or ex-pats.”
When asked about the treatment of Asian migrants, Mahamood believes that some people fail to see that migrants in Malaysia have been responsible for our development, every building, every road was made possible because of migrants.
It doesn’t just stop there, take a look around your house and you would notice that almost every household item we use has a lowly-paid migrant worker’s effort behind it. Mahamood added that Malaysians are forgetting these things and only choose to see migrants as people who benefit from Malaysia and our currency.
“We can see the same pattern amongst the refugees living in Malaysia. Malaysians despise Rohingya refugees in the country, but at the same time show solidarity with other countries like Palestine.”
It’s simple, we should treat the migrants in our countries the same way we want to be treated as migrants in foreign countries. As a first step, why not retire the term “Bangla” and instead call them for what they are, Bangladeshis, that is if they are from Bangladesh. It doesn’t take long to find out where they are from and address them accordingly.
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