The very term 'Racial tolerance' is one that I do not agree with. 'Tolerance' means 'to put up with'. In my view, you only 'put up' with problems or discomforts. I don't see living together in a country with other races as a discomfort or a problem, and I'd hate for others to view living with me or my community in that light.
I would prefer using the term 'multi-racial acceptance'. We accept one another as fellow Malaysian. We live side by side with acceptance of the ways of one another. Or at the very least, that would be the ideal scenario.
That said, reading an article in today's NST disturbed me. Last Monday night, there was a Bharatanatyam performance in Taman Budaya, in Ipoh. Having attended countless bharatanaytam performances, and accompanying my sister to many of her dance performances, I know a thing or two about this art. I definitely know the importance the dancers place to the worship of Lord Nadarajah before beginning their show. It's a very simple pooja, sometimes just a mere offering of flowers, but one deep in meaning and importance.
On Monday's event however, the owners of the venue, the state Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Department, refused to allow this integral part of the performance. Adding insult to injury, they actually showed their 'tolerance' by 'allowing' the prayer ritual to be done backstage, 'to respect the sensitivities of the audience, who also comprised Chinese and Malays'.
Come on! I have attended thousands of fuctions where a 'doa selamat' is said. Is that any different from this? If I went as far as to claim that the 'doa selamat' does not 'respect the sensitivities' of others, would I not be public enemy No. 1? But no, that is not what I have been brought up to say. Because I, ACCEPT the way of others around me. I for one, believe that God is one, and all religions lead to Him.
Sometimes, one cannot help feeling that even if the majority of Malaysians can rise above the trivialities of race and religion, there will always be the one government employee, stuck in the past, who throws the wrench in the works.