"... The spirit of Muhibbah should happen when you least expected it. It should come naturally WITHOUT you nor the company you’re with consisting of different races were even aware of (the) very (fact).
It comes from the heart and NOT just to show off for the sake of promoting some Tourism Year.
Now days, when a Malay chap has an Indian best friend for example, those fellas tend to proudly make this a big issue by telling the world. In Malaysia, everyone mixes freely with different races.
Racial unity mustn’t be made a big deal in pulling in foreign tourists. By including that in travel brochures we are in a way telling the world we’re guilty of racism ourselves.
We’re a civilized society for goodness sake.
We’ve gained our independence more than 50 years now that anything racial in nature should have been buried like decades ago.
Muhibbah is about a group of people from different races sitting around having a meal, enjoying each other’s company and laugh their asses off together WITHOUT making such a big deal out of it. .."
Here is my take, for 'Muhibbah'. I shall paint a story about how 'Muhibbah' affected my life.
I was delivered into this world through C-section by Dr. Ronald S. McCoy, to a civil servant couple.
When I was a young boy, my parents took me to a paediatrician by the name of Dr. Gwendolyn Smith.
Otherwise, my regular GP is Dr. David S. Mutthu and Dr. P. Cumarasamy. Once a while, my parents would take me to see Dr. S. Rajadurai. When I had my surgeries over twenty years ago, my surgeons were Dr. A. Sabapathy and Dato' Mr. S. Sreenivasen.
During the 13th May 1969 race riot, a good neighbour in front of our home, the late Mr. Charles Lee, watched over us as my father was somewhere in Pahang, enroute to Kelantan that fateful evening. He was very worried for my mother, who was 8 month pregnant then.
The only two male teachers I had as class teachers during my primary school was Mr. Robert Yong and Mr. Ong Beng Jin. Mr. Ong was a fierce man and I could not actually recall how many times I was slapped by him, let alone made to stand on the chair or outside the class. Conveniently, he was the school discipline master!
I hung around guys like Azlan Ramli, Rosihan Adi Baharuddin, Auslan Kardin, Tengku Sharafuddin, Mukhriz Fadzil, Khoo Cheng Leng, Mui Kok Peng, Ivan Yeoh, Raymond Tan (and his sister, Samantha Tan), Melvin F. Xavier and Gary Thanabalan, whilst in Sekolah Sri Petaling.
In the evenings, I would play with Roger Tan and Yue Chee Kin. Of course there were the Megat and Yusof brothers and Fateh Iskandar (now Dato' FD Iskandar, Exec Director of Glomac Bhd.) and later his koleq buddy, Ahlan Nasri Nasir.
Like most of us 5A holders in the late seventies, we enrolled in boarding schools.
Azlan Ramli, Rosihan Adi, Auslan Kardin, Faiz Ali, Azlin Azraii and seven others went to MCKK and Khoo Cheng Leng and Tengku Sharafuddin was trained in RMC. Another bunch enrolled in MRSMs.
I went to a boarding school, it was meant for the under developed Malays from the rural areas, along with Kamaluddin Madros, Badrulhisham Muda, Ahmad Irfan, Faisal Azamuddin, Azhar Nordin and Azlina Ramli.
However, the guy next to my bed for three whole years is a chap from Kampar by the name of Ng Chee Hong, who is also my Form 4 and 5 classmate.
My best buddy in school is a guy of Pakistani descent. He was denied a place to do pre-medicine matriculation by MARA post-SPM because MARA did not consider him as a "Malay". Eventually, he entered UM's Medical School after obtaining good grades at STPM.
The principal of the boarding school, En. Abdul Hamid Zamburi was a typical Malay nationalist. He wanted us to understand the meaning of 'nation building'.
I was fortunate enough to be admitted as an 'anak angkat' by a Felda settler, Pak Marsimon B. Sajam of Felda Sri Ledang, near Jementah, Segamat for two and half weeks, after my SRP. There I learned the life of being settler.
My third form history teacher instilled my first interests in politics. He taught us the political gistory and relate it to the April 1982 General Elections (my first observation of the process of democracy, Malaysian style). I have been observing politics, ever since.
When I enrolled into my boarding school in Kuantan, 6 January 1980, my Principal is a man called Khoo Khiok Boon, even though the school is under an agency specially enacted by Parliament to the develop the Bumiputras.
I had American Lester Terrence "Terry" Stretch III, English lady Susan "Puan Mariam Abdullah" (can't remember her last name) and Aussie Nikki Renshaw, as secondary English teachers.
My first mathematics master is Mr. Ho Liang Koo. Then it was Mr. Khoo Soo Lee, who made additional mathematics just like "A stroll in the park".
Mr. Ho taught me again in lower six and then it was Mr. Peter Croome. My economics master then was Eric Bowring. He taught me rugby.
The most memorable character of all during my sixth form was Vice Principal Matthias Franscisco De Menezes. He picked on me ever so often, whilst letting other guys get away and one day I revolted. In hindsight, I am so grateful to him! (For making a lot of fuss, thus instill some discipline into me)
My former physician is Dato' Dr. Joseph Ong. He is 'Baba' and speaks Melayu very well (with a full Southern accent).
Dato' Dr. Menon was my wife's obstetrician and he delivered my daughter, 11 and half years ago. Her paediatrician is Dr. Lim Suan Tee.
Three months later, my wife underwent a gallstone surgery and Mr. Liew Fah Kong performed the task. Her radiologist was Dr. Mukherjee. When I started going to Damansara Specialist Hospital in the late 90s, I saw Dr. Mahendran.
I live in a Chinese majority neighbourhood, where 90% of the homes in my street are of Chinese ethnic origin. My immediate next door neighbour is a Chinese Dato' from Johor and conveniently give me durians, few times in a year despite that I hate the smell of durian. Anyhow, I don't have the heart to reject his kindness or neither tell him "But Dato', actually I don't eat durian".
My father, for many years, was the Resident Association President (after a longtime President Petaling Jaya councilman Mr Yue Saw Him passed away to cancer in 2002), even though 85% of the members are of Chinese ethnic origin. They give him full support and also promote neighbourly activities.
My father's committee members include Toi See Yan (who is also his Company Secretary), Rajes Patel (his lawyer) and Peter Chin (who is also his stockbroker) and they are always around the house, with his financial adviser, Thien Tuck Meng.
Another good neighbour is Supt (Rtd) Blossom Wong. Another good neighbour down the street is Phang Ah Tong, a true-blue MIDA man.
In the nineties, my best friend is a guy name Eugene Chua. We have lunch almost everyday in the week (except weekends) and our favourite treat for lunch is either Kai Fan, Char Kuey Teow or when we have a little extra time (and of course, money), buffet Dim Sum either in Shah Alam or Kuala Lumpur City Centre.
He even drove all the way down to Johor Bahru for my nikah and joined me in a short 'post nikah honeymoon' in Singapore there after (separate rooms, of course!). He moved away and now we don't hang out that much.
I even had a Cantonese name then. All my staff were of Chinese ethic origin and they call me "Feh Chai", till present day.
Once, in a phoneshop while waiting to be served, I looked around at some of phones on display, with Eugene. The shopkeeper wass serving a customer. Suddenly, a Malay delivery boy stormed in, scanned around, stepped up to me and coyly ask, "Mr. Balbir?"
"Do I look like Mr. Balbir to you?????" Until today, Eugene calls me that!
At home, I tease my family, a little too much. I call the missus "Linda Lum" and my daughter "Tan Ai Sha", or worse still, "Aishi Sikunitsu". And in retaliation, they'd annoyingly call me back, "Mr. Balbir"!
Two of my best buddies during my ACCA days are Baldev Singh and Sudhev. I lived with a Kadazan lass, Maria Marcella Kimin for two years and later, her sister Juliana (I have forgotten her middle name!) Kimin joined us. The three of us, Malay boys called Maria "Mom" because she takes good care of us and kept the household spotless clean.
Maria's boyfriend, Charles Gimbad, who was at the other side of the Atlantic, makes a point to visit her and we hung out. Nowadays, Sabah had been our annual holiday calender and we see them once a year.
One of my closest expatriate friend is a Derby bloke by the name of David Armstrong Jones, who was the Director for Rolls Royce. David made a point to speak Malay, ever so often.
Another is my MBA mate, Paul F. Gorter. Paul is a Bostonian native and like David, he too speak Malay. I worked in a teaching hospital project once with a true-blue 'EU' guy, Paul Ravelli. Paul is British national, Scottish born to an Italian ethnic parents, worked for a French company and live in Lisbon!
When I did my MBA (I REFUSED to do my MBA in public universities, especially in ITM, because I would imagine ALL my coursemates would be only Malays) in a private college, almost all my coursemates are of Chinese ethnic origin, with the exception of Paul and two guys from India, Madhu Bharat and Sandeep Nath.
There is also a Kelabit, Bojeng Bari, who is a Sarawak native and now makes Klang Valley as his permanent home.
For three and half years, 3-4 times a week I would hang around with these guys, but NEVER WITHOUT Ching Chee Kong, Ho Yoke Ming, Daniel Chan, Nicholas Chee and Barney Wong; discussing, arguing, brainstorming, researching, re-editing course works, eating, teh tariking and last but not least, Happy Hour-ing!
(There was one guy, Gan, a lecturer in TAR College. He was more of a 'lone ranger' and usually avoided hanging out with the rest of us, There is this other member of our gang, whose name eludes me at the moment).
Unfortunately, there was no ladies in our MBA, in the whole three bloody years!
Our supervisor in an engineer-turned-process developer Mah Kong Howe, who is still a good friend. Being a Pudu born and bred and later went to Australia (and got hooked on refereeing Cricket!), he once shared his experience during the wedding at his wife's place in Kelantan, where almost all the guests were local Malays and they served nasi minyak instead of the usual Chinese food for the feast.
Of course, everyone is the wife's family had Malay names. It was a shock for him!
Of course, I have an array of other good friends, most of them from the print media industry and most of them I made friends with, at the National Press Club.
All are journalist, except lawyer Wee Choo Keong. Wee was the DAP MP for Bukit Bintang. One of them, Star political sub-editor Joceline Tan visited me while I had my surgery.
So did my blogger friends, Bernard Khoo, Tony Yew, Captain Yusof Ahmad, Ahiruddin "Rocky" Attan, Nuraina Samad and the guys from MyKMU.net.My car mechanic is Kolo Chan and I go to Sunny Tan to get my tires fixed.
Our green grocer is a guy called Gan, who can read 'jawi' (many Malays nowadays are 'jawi' illiterate!). Our daily 'roti-man' is an Indian chap by the name of Sickander. My personal pharmacist is a sweet lady called Miss Chan. My daughter's GP-cum-paediatrician is Dr. Chan Wai Yue.Nowadays, my physicians are Dr. Zainuddin Md. Zin and Dr. Daud Sulaiman.Now, it seemed that things have changed, over forty years.
My gastric by-pass surgeon is Dato' Dr. Haron Ahmad and when he cut me up recently, Dato Dr. Wan Nik Ahmad Mustapha and Dr. Ibtisam Ibrahim knocked me out and managed my breathing.
Two days after surgery, Dr. Norhayati Mokhti x-rayed my intestine and consulted gastroenterologist Dr. Mohd. Nazim Mohamed Salleh, to ensure the surgery was successful.
I also see Dato' Dr. Khalid Kadir, the eminent endocrinologist.
My daughter's paediatrician is Dato' Dr. Azizee Omar and six years ago, Mr. Abdul Razak Mohamad performed appendectomy on her.
My wife see Mr. Rozman Md. Idrus for her back.
My father's cardiothoracic surgeons are Tan Sri Mr. Yahya Awang and Dr. Syed Mohamed Adeeb.
P/S My first girlfriend was a Chinese girl from Jalan Khalidi, Muo!
- Zakhir Mohamed