Sabah leaders hail ethnic diversity
Published on: Sunday, October 13, 2019
By: Kan Yaw Chong
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Shafie on first of its kind Malaysia Day ‘do’ – a rally call for ethnic and religious understanding. (Picture courtesy Borneo News).
AS the race issue that haunts Peninsula Malaysia becomes more blatant, a basic question we should ask is what is race, and how many races are there in the world? Is there a race which is superior to other races?

According to, there is no universally-accepted classification for a “race”.

In fact, its use has been under fire over the last few decades. This is quite true because nearly every article says more or less the same.

However, half a century ago, Informory says it was accepted that the world population can be divided into four major races, namely white/Caucasian, Mongoloid/Asia, Negloid/Black, and Australoid (aboriginal people of Australia, Melanesia and parts of Southeast Asia).   

This is based on a racial classification made by Carleton S. Coon in 1962.     


More than 5,000 ethnic groups

The United Nations, in a 1950 statement, opted to “drop the term race” altogether and speak of “ethnic groups”.

In this case, there are more than 5,000 ethnic groups in the world, according to a 1998 study published in the Scientific American. 

The problem: Vying for domination

Ah, that’s where the big fight for advantage, domination or supremacy is – the thousands of ethnic groups jostling for being the daichi (Japanese term for Number 1) and some of them become so serious, so emotional, so crazed and certainly so over-zealous with hegemony or dominance. 

But the more one reads into the subject, the surprise is science points to the origins of humans traces back to one common ancestor. Surprise from science: Human race originate from common ancestor

Read the Aug 17, 2010, Science Daily report entitled “Mitochondrial Eve – mother of all human live 200,000 years ago”.

It says: “The most robust statistical examination today of our species genetic links to ‘Mitochondrial Eve’ – the maternal ancestor of all living human – confirms that she lived about 200,000 years ago. 

“The Houston-based Rice University study was based on a side-by-side comparison of 10 human genetic models that each aims to determine when Eve lived using a very different set of assumptions about the way humans migrated, expanded and spread across Earth.”

But the name Eve caused some to jump to the conclusion that it refers to the Biblical Eve but the researchers cautioned against misconceptions that people had misunderstood a very complex matter just because they used the conventional name Eve.

However, one thing is clear, ultimately speaking, all 5,000 ethnic groups or human beings on this planet share a common ancestor and belong to one single species – Homo sapiens!


One human species: Homo Sapiens

That’s what Sean O’Connell says: “Ultimately, we are all Homo Sapiens but the differences in our appearances and traits are genetic mutations within our own genus and species which are adaptive in nature and do not necessarily make “new races”.   

“There are no pure races left but there are a few close exceptions such as the Australian Aborigines, African Pygmies, and the Lapps minority of Finland and Scandinavia,” opined O’ Connell.


Sabah leaders glorify ethnic diversity 

What the world has now is an incredible diversity of 5,000 ethnic groups, purportedly coming down from one common ancestor.


Good or bad news? For Sabah, it is good news.

Every year, as I cover the Sabah Fest, I hear Sabah politicians hail and glorify a diversity of 32 ethnic groups, particularly the State’s “Traditional Tolerance”.   

Even under the previous leadership, I heard that said umpteenth times from local leaders like Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun at the annual Sabah Fest Cultural Extravaganza which showcases the colourful songs, dances, traditions and costumes of these ethnic groups every year since the 1990s.


Sabah celebrate global ethnic diversity  

Besides the Sabah Fest which provides a platform to highlight the beauty of ethnic diversity for years the Sabah Cultural Board staged an annual International Folklore Festival as a testimony that Sabah loves and appreciates cultural understanding far beyond its borders.


‘First of its kind’ Malaysia Day ‘do’ under new State Government 

The new State Government had continued that tradition as amply demonstrated during the Malaysia Day celebration at Padang Merdeka Sept 31, themed “Unity in Diversity” with the mantra “We Are One” officiated by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.

It was labelled “the first of its kind” in 56 years on the latest Malaysia Day celebration because the Chief Minister was joined by leaders of all religious faiths, such as Datuk Jerry Dusing of Community Empowerment, Haji Osman Hj Ahmad of Masjid Hikmah Bukit Padang, Bishop Rev James Wong of Sabah Council of Churches, Pastor Chin Chi Kiong of National Evangelical Christian Fellowship Commission on Sabah Affairs, Ong Tuen Yiok from Taiwan Buddhist Tsu Chi Foundation Malaysia and Dr G.T. Rajendran from Malaysia Hindu Sangam (Sabah).      

“We celebrate our unity in diversity,” Shafie said. 

his is in sharp contrast to the pathological racial rhetoric coming out of the peninsula of late.                            


The secret in ethnic relations

Actually in human relations, good things and happiness are rebounds that come from being good to the other guy first.

That’s the plain language of what “love thy neighbour as thyself” means actually which, unfortunately, sounds too religious to many people who don’t understand its real practical intent. The critical understanding is the order of priority who comes first – oneself or the other guy? 

Notice it does not say love yourself as your neighbour but the reverse. 

That is, give the benefits to the other guy first and set in motion the positive feedback loop.


What racists don’t understand about self-destruct rebounds

But racists and many top leaders of nations don’t understand this basic order of things, they always start with themselves and go crazy thinking about themselves first scheme the worst for the other guy. 

For example, America first.

So what they get in return is hatred as rebounds which is a classic example of self-destruct.  Actually, they are fools not sage.


Racism inflicts considerable suffering  

Most scholars agree that race has real material effects in the lives of people through institutionalised practices of preferences and discrimination.    

And it is very dangerous once people openly say this is what they plan to do.        

Racism has led to considerable suffering, many instances of tragedy, including genocides and who knows – wars.  


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