There is a 45 seconds video that went viral, where a man known as Edi Rejang berates a beer promoter. Even if he doesn’t directly disparage her race, the undertone is obvious. First, he asks about the beer sample she’s holding, then her race, ending the video with a middle finger.

Also, we remember the girl who attacked an elderly man’s car following an accident, spewing racial remarks. She dented his car with a steering wheel lock, shouting “you think you’re better than us?”

The only thing that sets these two individuals apart from most of our Malaysian population is that they were unfortunate enough to get caught. Because, let’s face it- nearly every Malaysian, regardless of race, have at one point or another been either the perpetrator or victim of racism. Nobody should sit on a high horse, we’ve all been some degree of racist before.

Edi Rejang and steering wheel lock girl, their behaviours were merely the manifestation of years of poisonous racial propaganda. They were simply parroting what has been repeatedly preached. Actually, not just them. We have all been taught to ‘defend our race’. It is ‘us versus them’, like some demented and bloodier version of Lord of the Flies, race edition.

I attended a Chinese primary school followed by a Malay secondary school. Not long into my Form 1 year at the Malay school, I notice a stark difference between the two schools and remarked to my father, “how come this school don’t drill into us Chinese pride the way my primary school did?” Papa replied, “ah, all that was just propaganda.”

At 13 years old, I didn’t understand.

But I do now.

If you think your race is better than another, that’s racism.

Many years ago, as a freshly ordained first officer (brand new 2 bars), I met an uncle at the LCCT departure lounge. We got to talking, he asked about my job, noting with interest the male-dominated nature of my industry. Then, he ended the conversation with “很好。为华人争光” (very good. Make the Chinese proud).

This still bothers me today, more than 7 years later. Why should I make the Chinese proud? I thought this conversation was about gender? Shouldn’t I endeavour to make women proud? How on Earth does my race play any bearing in this? After all, female pilots of any race are the minority (especially then).

Why must there be a constant competition among the races? What’s with the division? The race-based territories?

I’m not even going to mince my next words- I blame the politicians. Because, what better way to divide and conquer, if not with race and religion? The British probably thought so too, hence the race segmentation pre-Merdeka days.

Having discovered this magic trick, the politicians, these wicked individuals, they spew racial hate. They segregate us based on race. The teach us that our domain is our race, our community to defend.

Malaysian-Malay, Malaysian-Chinese, Malaysian-Indian. Really, whats with all the hyphens?

Honestly, these hyphenated identities will be the death of us.

Sometimes, I think about that uncle in the airport lounge. If I could go back in time, I’ll say, “uncle, I’ll make women proud. And I’ll make Malaysians proud”.

Uncle, Chinese or Malaysian? Which do you identify as? There is no 50/50. Everybody has a bias, there will always be a dominant identity. Which is it?

So no, I do NOT think Edi Rejang is the real enemy, because the real enemy is racial propaganda.

The real enemy is forgetting that we are Malaysians first.