East Malaysians feel the love, and kids show they are colour blind

Eight years ago, just after Merdeka, I wrote a piece for an English daily about the ‘United colours of Malaysia’.

The article was about a group of friends – a Malay, a Chinese, an Indian and one Serani – meeting for yamcha (tea) at a restaurant in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

When we met that day, no one was bothered if so-and-so was of a different race or religion. We saw each other for what we are – Malaysians.

It also served as a reminder that no matter how hard politicians try to separate us, Malaysians will always unite when there is food!

I was reminded of this on Wednesday when I picked my daughter up from school after her extracurricular activities.

Tagging along were two of her schoolmates, one a Chinese girl, and the other, a Malay. An Indian friend did not follow us on this day.

It was another ‘united colours of Malaysia’ moment.

The four of us went to a nearby mall as the kids needed to buy some school supplies.

We then went to a fast food outlet, where I was largely ignored! I noticed several tables with schoolchildren. It was heartening to see most of the kids, of different races, mixing freely.

The girls were in a world of their own, talking about school, movies, YouTubers, and horror of all horrors, boys!

With nothing to contribute, I started scrolling my social media and noticed many friends and relatives from East Malaysia talking about the royal family’s visit to Borneo.

Our Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, and his consort, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, recently concluded their Kembara Kenali Borneo tour. The King and Queen were joined by members of the royal family.

The 11-day tour ended on Wednesday.

Although not a fan of the pomp and pageantry that follow VVIPs, I could see why the tour excited friends and family, as the royal family were very down to earth.

The tour’s timing was perfect as we celebrate Malaysia Day today. Ever since 1963, East Malaysians have felt like they were an afterthought. After all, it took the government 47 years – in 2010 – to recognise with a public holiday, the day Sabah and Sarawak joined the other 11 Malayan states in 1963 to form the country we know and love today.

So, to see the royal family in the flesh, gave them a sense of pride and acknowledgment.

“Sadly, I could not see them due to work, but my friends who did, said it was a moment they are unlikely to forget,” said Kuching native, Christabelle Jay.

“They were very happy that the King and Queen visited Sabah and Sarawak. Most importantly, they brought their handsome son, too!

“I think he was the bigger attraction!” joked Jay.

Indeed, photographs and videos of the King and Queen’s son – Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah, who is also the Regent of Pahang – were widely shared during the trip.

Sarawakians also have an added incentive to celebrate Malaysia Day today as Kuching’s Stadium Perpaduan will host the national-level celebration, while Petra Jaya Member of Parliament, Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, is one of the country’s deputy prime ministers.

Fadillah is the first East Malaysian to hold that position.

“Having someone from East Malaysia in such a high post in the federal government is a step in the right direction,” said Michael Ahin.

”Maybe one day we will see someone from Sabah or Sarawak become prime minister. It feels like this government is making an effort to include us in their plans, and this is why this year’s Malaysia Day is more meaningful.”

Hopefully, this feel-good factor will continue, and we can see more progress and wealth shared in East Malaysia.


Ever since my school days, I have identified more with Hang Jebat, as he did not follow the orders of a tyrannical leader, but instead, stood up for his friend, the blindly obedient Hang Tuah.

While there have been many movies and plays about their history, The Actors Studio Teater Rakyat, with the support of ArtFAS (Arts For All Seasons), will present ‘a contemporary interpretation surrounding the life and tragic death of Jebat, set in a post-apocalyptic Malaysia’.

‘Jebat’ opens at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre today.

Get your tickets here.


The Klang River Festival, which started last Friday, ends next Sunday – World River Day.

The festival offers numerous activities across the 120km stretch of the Klang River.

To get details on the various programmes, click here.


Nasi Kandar lovers are in for a treat as Sunway Putra Mall is organising a ‘Nasi Kandar Fest’ today and tomorrow.

Check out Friedchillies’ Facebook page to learn more about this event.


Tasty and yummy, these muffins are each under 200 calories per serving.

They also contain at least 3g of slow-digesting fibre in each serving from ingredients like fruit, nuts, and whole grains.


James Boyle, better known as Jimmy, was a well-known Serani composer of many patriotic songs. His song, ‘Kemegahan Negaraku’ (My Country’s Majesty), was played at the inaugural raising of the Malayan flag on Aug 31, 1957.

Another of his compositions, ‘Untuk Negeri Kita’, was adopted as the Penang state anthem in 1972.

To end this week’s Diary, we have another of his tunes, ‘Putera Puteri’, but with a jazzy twist from Kathleen Rodrigues.

Happy birthday, Malaysia.


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