Monday, June 6, 2011
Social distance, the cause of misunderstanding.
The older group of Malaysians i'm sure feel much closer to other Malaysians in their age group than the younger ones. Why? Because when they grew up in the village and small towns, their relationship was closer and more intimate. The younger Malaysians are subject to more divisive forces than their elders
Have we ever considered what these forces are? We talk about 1 Malaysia and uniting the people into a more integrated and cohesive society. But we don't seem to study what keeps people apart seriously so that those barriers to unity and homogeneity can be removed or overcome. Perhaps we assume that we know . But can we also assume that we know how to overcome the problems. Can we just assume that the 1 Malaysia concept will provide a panacea for all the problems of disunity in the nation?
Rapid economic progress had made people drift apart according to their economic status. The luxury housing areas and homes become inaccesable to the less affluent. The rich will shop at luxurious, high-end complexes, the poor and average at jln Tuanku Abdul Rahman and other cheaper places. Even eating out takes the rich and higher middle class into a different direction than the lower middle and lower class- the former frequenting the classy restaurants and bistros, the latter filling in the ' taman seleras' and the 'mapleys'. The latter would not be able to visit even the Mc D and the KFC too often because of the continuously escalating prices. Yes, children go to the same school but not in the same way (by bus) and receive tuition from different sources which separate the well-to-do and the wannabes.
There might not be social classes anymore now, but there certainly exists a social distance between various groups of people in our modern society caused by a change in economic status. This distance is magnified by other differences such as in religious faith, vernacular language , culture, education level, professional interests etc. Can all these be overcome by just one concept - the 1 Maysia concept. I think the government has to do more to close the social distance, once it has been recognized. The bigger problem is we often fail to recognize the problem and dismiss complex issues as a simple
human problem. Worse, we often think that we have resolved the problem through a new policy or regulation, which actually can create more issues than it can solve.