September was a month of celebration for Malaysia. Our Merdeka celebration had just ended, and we celebrated with our unprecedented victory in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, which was then followed closely by Malaysia Day! We decided it was the best month to discover the dream that binds us all as Malaysians. So on 28th September 2017, we held an interactive event named ‘Painting Our Malaysian Dream’.
A vision or a dream shared by a nation is a powerful unifying tool. Malaysia is a country of immense diversity, and yet we all stand as Malaysians together. ‘Painting Our Malaysian Dream’ was an effort to celebrate the unity and dream among all Malaysians through art jam, above backgrounds, races, and religions.
We invited Bah Insan, an Orang Asli of the Semai tribe from Gopeng, Perak, as a speaker. Interestingly, he brought along 4 teenagers, who have never taken a bus out of Perak, let alone set foot in Kuala Lumpur. Needless to say, the Orang Asli became the limelight during dinner as most of the urban communities have never interacted with an Orang Asli before. People would gather around Bah Insan and the teens to ask them questions and even learn the Semai language.
The art jam session followed quickly after dinner. Each participant had to paint a letter that is written at the back of their own canvas. It was soon revealed that all of the canvases given out to each participant was actually a puzzle piece, which they will have to piece together once all has finished painting. After grouping all the participants into teams to share art supplies, we got straight down to painting. Each participant did not hold back at all to express their creativity on the canvas.
After 40 mins of painting, all the participants gathered together to figure out the puzzle. As everyone placed their canvas down, the puzzle suddenly seemed harder than we thought. Only with a few hints, they started getting an idea of what the full picture might be. Finally, after some shuffling and reshuffling, they completed the puzzle, which combined to form the phrase ‘United We Stand, Divided We Fall’. Although it started out rather confusing, it was beautiful how all the pieces came together to make a beautiful big picture.
Next up is the dialogue session. We invited 3 speakers from various background to talk about the Malaysian pride: Dr. Anas, author of Rich Malaysia, Poor Malaysians; Sharon Wee, former international squash athlete; and lastly, Bah Insan, a representative of Orang Asli. Dr. Teh Su Thye, CEO of Global Peace Foundation Malaysia, was the moderator for the forum. The forum started with each of the speaker’s’ childhood and background but quickly progressed to a topic much closer to the hearts of us all — our Malaysian pride. Sharon Wee, who has traveled the world as a professional athlete, took this chance to express her undying love for the country. “As a professional athlete, I’ve traveled to 5 continents, but once my plane lands in Kuala Lumpur, I step out of the plane and breath the Malaysian air, that is home”, she described.
Dr. Anas also explained the uniqueness of Malaysia. With globalization, diversity is no longer something exclusive to certain countries. However, as Dr. Anas explained, no other countries have a racial ratio like Malaysia. The challenge was not just coming together as one, he explained, but “appreciating our differences and making it a source of strength”. “If Malaysia can succeed, the whole world can succeed”, he said.
We ended our day by having some participants share their dream for Malaysia. One wished that the Orang Asli community will be more included, another hoped for racial equality, and one prayed for safer homes for children. As diverse as it sounds, all those dreams came down to the same destination, which is a peaceful, fair and united Malaysia.