Disclaimer: This piece reflects the writer’s opinion and opinions submitted by other readers on the subject matter. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of WORLD OF BUZZ.
A few days ago, a street fight broke out in Jalan Telawi, Bangsar that resulted in one death while another sustained heavy injury. The incident is now infamously known as the ‘Bangsar Brawl’. The cause of the fight was believed to have stemmed from old rivalries between different gang members.
Despite the nature of the crime, what did we see going viral on social media? “India Mabuk”, “Oh, it’s normal for Indians to get drunk and fight like this” or the ever-so-popular “Just let the Indians fight and kill each other only then the area will be safer”. No one ever stopped to consider that a person died and this isn’t probably the best time to incite racial differences.
As an Indian reading the updates regarding this situation, I felt angry, disappointed but mostly sad. No matter what we do or what we achieve, just this simple term of “Indian mabuk” brings us back to square one. Some might feel that it’s best to distance themselves from this issue but let’s be honest, this just leads to the next generation developing internalised racism. The question is how come when issues like this happen, we never think of how and where does it stem from or how to tackle it from the root itself?
According to The Loud Asians, this stereotype originated from Indian immigrants forced to live in plantations and resorted to toddy as their leisure activities. The British colonisers and estate owners took advantage of the situation and built more toddy shops on each plantation.
“Indian labourers were attracted to how available toddy was in Malaya as it was restricted in their motherland.”
What do Malaysian Indians think of this?
Nevertheless, this stereotype of “Indian mabuk” has affected us more than we can ever think of. Curious, I took to my social media accounts and asked Malaysian Indians and non-Indians how has this simple term affected them. Gaya, 30, believes that poverty plays a huge part in how these gangs still exist in the Indian community.
“I think for long we have been marginalised, and that frustration among Indian is prominent. Initially… I was thinking I was embarrassed by this incident but there is more to this. It’s especially gut-wrenching knowing that a policeman was right there but didn’t do anything.”
Yash, 22, feels that despite being an Indian himself, he has no choice but to be afraid of the stereotype and it hurts that the stereotype is being perpetuated by the people who fulfil it let alone those who don’t. “All I can hope for is a safer environment, and then the dismissal of this stereotype in the public eye,” he said.
26-year-old Eya believes that circumstance has led to her believing in the stereotype as simply put that was the situation she grew up in.
“My dad drinks everyday so when someone says India Mabuk, I don’t feel offended because that is my reality. After I had an encounter with a group of drunk Indian guys in Penang, I can’t help to believe in the term.”
She added that drinking is not a problem but it’s how you behave after that makes the difference. Nesh, 26, stated the obvious “Being an Indian in Malaysia is hard and there’s racism everywhere”. He added that people are educated but not civilised enough which is why they can’t comprehend the simple concept that not all Indians drink and not all Indians drink, fight on the street.
Shana, 21, echoes this sentiment and the term “India Mabuk” has become a stigma. “Every time there’s a drunk driving case or any case involving a person under the influence, the first thing people ask is, “Indian ah?”. 24-year-old Sha feels like this stereotype came from Indians themselves as some Indians have this toxic masculinity mentality where they feel it’s manly to drink, be violent, curse etc.
“This of course is amplified by the movies that create a fantastic example for Indians.”
Lisa, 23, shared how her close friend passed away from a road accident after driving back from work. His friend had a long day at work and fell asleep at the wheel which resulted in him slamming his car into a tree. However, when the news started to spread on social media, everyone (the public/people who didn’t know him) assumed he was drunk driving.
“It broke me to think that people labeled his death as drunk driving. People commented on the post the family made announcing his passing, and someone random asked “What happened”. Another stranger commented “Drunk driving bro”. “
What do Malaysian non-Indians think of this?
This blanket term of “India Mabuk” doesn’t just affect Indians and several non-Indians messaged me their opinion on this issue. Din, 23, says that just because of someone who was drunk and involved in violence doesn’t mean all the Indians do that. That’s what Ina, 24, had to say as well where it’s unfair to judge a whole community simply based on a singular string of events.
23-year-old May said that while she can never relate to the struggles of a community that has been stereotyped so negatively, what she CAN do is stand in solidarity with them and stay informed to actively educate others in my community that may directly/indirectly enforce that stereotype.
“India Mabuk” isn’t always said out loud. Sometimes it’s implied in the way that you “joke” with your Indian friends and say that their alcohol tolerance should be high because they’re Indian. Or in the way that you read about a drunk fight that breaks out and assume that the people involved are Indian.
The only way to dismantle such a damaging stereotype is to actively check yourself and others from normalising a generalised belief that is untrue.”
It didn’t take long to prove what May said where the term “India Mabuk” is just used in every Indian related issue. WORLD OF BUZZ published an article recently where five men were arrested after setting off firecrackers during a gang member’s funeral procession. Now, I’m not trying to justify what they did was right, they were wrong and what they did was a public nuisance but somehow the top comments were obviously a dig at ALL Indians.
There we have it, the question boils down to one thing, does anyone like to be stereotyped? If you don’t, what are you doing to stop those stereotypes from being perpetuated and one last question, are you judgemental or are you simply racist?
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