Both my late parents were teachers in Bentong. As teachers, they were both strict and had instilled in their children to not discriminate where friendship was concerned.
During my primary school years, my good buddies consisted of the various races in Malaysia. We did not understand what segregation of race was all about. We were schooling in Sulaiman Primary School, Bentong; together we played catch-a-thief, police sentry and “kundang kundi”. The word “race’ was never in our vocabulary. Nor was there any mentioned of the different categories of race. For me and my buddies/classmates then — we were a group of friends. Period.
Until this very day, my primary school friends and I are still in contact with each other. The stronger ties of our friendship was aided by the fact that we were together from the Express Class — Standard 2 until 6 Express.
To name some of them, they are: Ng See Kok, Fanzee Majid, Hoh Pau Lin, Loh Poh Kuen, Chiew Hui Yim, S. Yellamaran, Nor Inchun, Fatimah Aini, Chu Ah Sang, Ng Aik Ann, Soo Kien Ming, Shahidan Pitah, Cheok Wai Keong, Liao Chee Ming, Ashley Chow, Carrie Chow, Chan Lee Sam and Rosmaizar. During recess we would converge at our meeting place the “tuckshop” or the more up-to-date terminology “school canteen”. I wonder if the present generation knows the term “tuckshop”.
SOCIAL MEDIA – Building rapport
Social media has its positive impact on us the baby-boomers. Its presence has doubly made sure in solidifying friendship, ensuring its continuation via Facebook and WhatsApp. My school buddies and I are constantly in touch via the social media. Despite our busy schedule (I used to be very busy once 😁), we got to meet a few times. We reminisced the days back then; we laughed at memories of doing things together; and we constantly reminded each other that we gotta meet again.
Fast forward and ten years later, my roommate for two years during my university days at Third College, University Malaya, was a Chinese girl, Foo, who hailed from Penang. Come to think of it, I didn’t even know or understand the word “tolerance” then, simply because it came naturally for me to have Foo as a roommate. Why do we need to use the word “tolerance” where other race is concerned? Then, I had regarded Foo as another human being who was of Malaysian origin and, I believe it was ditto with Foo. The same kind of mindset that I had for my other friends of different racial backgrounds during my primary and secondary school as well as university days.
Being a Christian, several times Foo asked for my permission to use our bedroom for an hour or two for her and her Christian friends to discuss on their religion. I had never considered it as an issue and had allowed them to do so.
My final take on the subject matter is — TOGETHER, WE MALAYSIANS ARE STRONGER…