Subang Jaya assemblyperson Hannah Yeoh, while I admire your idealism, you need to realise that race and nationality are two different things altogether and that they can co-exist.
Malaysians are not prepared to cut all ties to their respective ethnicities. Being Chinese, Indian or Malay is still a huge part of our identities as individuals although we are also proudly Malaysian at the same time. Every society, every generation, each family, may wish to continue traditions on how their beliefs are reflected.
With regards to the current raging debate on YB Hannah Yeoh & Ramachandran Muniandy attempting to register their baby daughter Shay Adora Ram as “Anak Malaysia”, many commentors seem to have missed the bigger picture. Some of their statements on forums have been incorporated into this article but are difficult to credit due to anonymity.
Let's put things into proper perspective, shall we? The sole purpose of any detail in any identification card or document is precisely in the very definition of the English word - 'identification'.
This is none other than to identify and describe the subject in its relevant form and this has to serve an intended purpose, not merely arbitrary. In the world we live in today, it is imperative that we identify and distinguish between male and female, hence the need to specify gender.
Likewise, the age of a person, hence the need to stipulate date of birth. Religion is another important form of identification as it determines the acknowledgment and specific respect the bearer is to be accorded with. I can also understand the need to specify hair, eye or skin colour for identification purposes in our passports.
Did you know Malaysian children of certain mixed parentage can choose to be registered under the race of one of their parents? Previously Malaysian parents had to register their children with the National Registration Department (JPN) as per paternal race until 2008 when the scenario changed.
Since 2008, the regulation has been amended to allow parents of different races to choose the race they prefer for their child instead of merely following the father’s.
Would Yeoh have requested to register the new born child as 'anak Malaysia' if she wasn't married to an Indian Malaysian and instead married to someone who is a Chinese Malaysian?
Is a new race created when a child of a mixed marriage is born? What happens when that child marries a member of a third racial group?
Can a person opt out of a racial group? Does society have to deal with such questions? What is the relevance of racial classification for the bureaucracy?
The dominant groups; 'MY', 'CN' and 'IN' may have their patriarchal conventions. We also have the matriarchal Minangkabaus from Negri Sembilan and West Sumatra. Then therre are the Ibans, Kadazans, Bidayuhs, Thais and Kristangs who have their own conventions.
Yeoh’s child does not have to hide her ancestry to be more Malaysian. There's no need for Yeoh to politicise this issue. The fact is, there is no provision at present to register a child as 'anak Malaysia'. Yeoh can do that if, and when, an Act is passed to the effect.
Also, one should not confuse between race and nationality. Since Yeoh is a Malaysian, and I presume Ramachandran Muniandy is also one, then their daughter is a Malaysian by nationality.
Again, until a law is passed to delete 'Race', there seems to be no choice but to fill in the blank. YB Hannah Yeoh ought to know the difference between nationity and ethnicity. Her family’s nationality is Malaysian. Her ethnicity is chinese while that of her husband is indian.
As an elected representative, YB Hannah Yeoh should adhere to the framework of the NRD, just like everyone else. Instead, she tried this stunt to push for the abolition of ethnicity. While some may agree and others disagree on the question of ethnicity, I believe there are many other intelligent ways to promote her agenda; Such as pushing for a national referendum or getting a motion tabled in parliament to achieve the removal of ethnicity altogether in the registrar of citizenry.
PKR/DAP/PAS must present a more progressive and intelligent approach for it to be taken seriously as proponents of better governance. Resorting to politcal gimmicks, grandstanding, playing up to the gallery with weak and lame arguments reveal their lack of intellectual depth and makes it difficult for them to be accepted as a credible and viable replacement for the BN.
Here’s something to think about - How about if she had tried to register her daughter’s race as 'human' ? Opens a whole different can of worms, doesn’t it? Where does it stop?