“Excuse me?” Human Welfare Minister Bakhrie Zakariah shot a stern look at his deputy, Jimat Dimsum, who palpably stiffened.
In a grave but brisk voice, Jimat reiterated, “the Malay folks of Kampung Tuah requires clear water supply. They request immediate attention to their problem and wish it’s dealt with before Hari Raya –Tuan.” Jimat added, as an afterthought.
“I heard what you said earlier,” intoned the Minister, dropping his gaze to sign a few documents.
Then why did he want Jimat to repeat in the first place? Just because the opposition party won, and he got appointed as his boss, he thinks he can act all high and mighty to a veteran civil servant. Callow and cocky little usurper!
Grudging thoughts raced through Jimat’s mind like daggers, yet his face evinced nothing, for conditioned by years of government dictates, he could grovel to even the most monstrous superior and still looked impassive.
He started to leave when his boss piped up, and he halted to oblige, fixing his eyes on Minister Bakhrie’s inscrutable gaze.
“The underprivileged may very well be Malay, Chinese, Indian, Orang Asli, or whatever race there is in this country. I don’t need to hear the ethnicity when you remind me certain people in our country demand the government’s attention.” Minister Zakariah said firmly.
“Even if it is relevant to the problem?”
“I think it’s implied when you say, the water problem of Kampung Tuah constituency requires our attention especially when many villagers need to celebrate the coming Hary Raya. We can slowly transform our cultural perception, starting by how we phrase our thoughts,” said Minister Bakhrie, whose face by now had brightened considerably. “Make it a habit in doing this. And tell the staff too.”
With that, Jimat nodded, adding “Yes Tuan” and left the office more seamed in the face.
Looking at people by their race is ingrained in our culture. Too many of us are guilty of this. Let’s make this country a better place by singing the Barney song. “I love you. You love me. We’re a happy family. With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you. Won’t you say you love me too.”…