As our slogan ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ suggests, Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures and races, because we get a taste of different cultures and traditions. This article will address why and how we are so diverse along with the benefits and setbacks that come with it.
What is diversity? Diversity is having variety and accepting everyone, despite differences in colour and tongue. That is what Malaysia is known for; we consist of many different cultures, traditions, ethnicities, races, languages, religions and many more. The reason why we coexist with this unique element is because of the migration of people originating from different countries during wars. The history of Malaysia forms what we are today.
Currently, the demographics of Malaysia stand at 32.37 million people, 69.8% of which are Malays. Several millennia ago, these people were initially from Indonesia and settled into Malaya - what Malaysia was identified as before they gained independence from the British. Meanwhile, the other 22.4% are of Chinese ethnicity and 6.8% are Indians. Of course, the above mentioned are the main batches but there are other ethnic groups out there.
Now, let me introduce you to the advantages of this country’s set-up. Due to how we get to socialize with different races, we also gain exposure to many languages. This results in us being able to speak with great fluency in at least 3 languages which are English, Malay and a mother tongue. Schools in Malaysia require us to learn these languages so we can adapt to our everyday lives, allowing us to easily communicate with foreigners and broaden our job opportunities. Sometimes, Malaysians would subconsciously merge these languages in one sentence, as well as combining bits of slang. For example, ‘Best gila’ (a mixture of English and Malay. In this case, this means ‘crazily good’) . This makes for a richer and more interesting Malaysian culture. Another benefit would be that we have an endless stream of public holidays. The reason is due to the many holidays that each race celebrates with some significant ones ending up as a national holiday.
Although there are countless benefits, there are setbacks and disadvantages. Sometimes diversity in our society isn’t as great, as division between races happens often. This causes disharmony and makes it harder for Malaysians to live in peace. Furthermore, since culture and traditions differ, there may be clashes or disputes from this. Stereotyping is also common and hence, causes a crack in the peace and balance that Malaysians live with.
Despite the issues that approach Malaysians due to diversity, we should all be accepting and embracing the differences of people, as well as learning and exploring more about cultures as a whole.