Change begins with small acts. The title of my blog is taken from Paul Gilroy's powerful slim volume packing a resounding counter-cultural critical punch.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Being Malaysian

Diving back into blogging is nothing like riding a bicycle.

I haven't posted here since 2009 and that is a very, very long time ago.

I didn't realize Google bought over Blogger so I forgot my password, forgot which email I used to set up my blog way back in 2003, forgot how the interface worked to publish new posts. It is a good thing Google is a tech juggernaut and basically controls most of the web now so thanks to Google search, Google tech support, and Big Brother Google, now I am sufficiently resuscitated online to be able to publish again.

 Never thought I'd do it for class but oh well! I did give all my students this assignment so, to be fair, I should at least subject myself to some of the same mental torture of thinking through the questions I posed.

 ~~~ Am I a Malaysian?

 It's obvious from my IC, my passport, and all other legal forms of identification generated by my government that I am. So yes, I was born here, grew up here, went to primary and secondary school here (and a good bit of college too), worked at my first job here, and the list goes on.

And I like food ~ like that is some kind of badge of Malaysian identification. But it is more than that.

I could not have been anything other than a Malaysian because I would not have been born if I wasn't.

My mom is second-generation Chinese with roots in Perak. My dad is part-Chinese and part-Malaccan Portuguese. My paternal grandmother has ancestors from as far back as the early Portuguese settlers to Malaya, centuries ago; during the Japanese Occupation, she survived because she was adopted by a Japanese lady who became my dad's surrogate grandmother.

There is more to my family history but suffice to say, the confluence of forces that brought my dad and mom into this world and that enabled them to meet and fall in love and to have me, their first born, would not have been possible in any other country or historical moment.

 So am I a Malaysian? Absolutely. Certainly. Most definitely yes.

~~~ Does it matter?

It matters only if I care about things like national identity, nationalism, patriotism ~ words that convey ideas too abstract and conceptual to be grasped on a day to day basis. It matters if I want to be associated with the millions of others who inhabit the same space as I do, breathe the same polluted air as I do, eat the same delicious meals and rant about the same shit that people living anywhere rant about: family, society, news, politics, etc.

So it matters. Because I care.

Because I am human and if I didn't care, I would cease to be human.

And I like being human far too much to not.