The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) was deeply disappointed by the last-minute cancellation of the online intercultural dance lecture given by the local dancer of classical Indian music, Datuk Ramli Ibrahim, at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). We believed that the university’s move not only hindered academic independence and freedom of speech, but also further lose the uniqueness of our society’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural traits.

Although Ramli Ibrahim is of Malay ethnicity, he is well-known within local and foreign art circles for his dedication to promote Indian traditional dances. This lecture was aimed towards allowing students to learn more about the unique characteristics of multiculturalism.

However, it is regretful the approach of UTM goes against the university’s supposed resources for ideas, culture and academics, allowing students to freely pursue the spirit of knowledge and truth, and succumb to the noise of a minor group of narrow-minded people. If the university continues to indulge religious or racial fundamentalists adopting a siege mentality to further erode academic freedom and deprive students of their rights to access different ideas and cultures, it will be detrimental to shaping the identity of all ethnic groups in the country.

KLSCAH believes that cultural diversity is undeniably a part of human history, while also an important cultural heritage. Therefore, cultural differences should not become obstacles in cultural exchanges, let alone become reasons for getting along with hostility. Any kind of civilization and culture is not self-enclosed in the process of historical development but advance together in harmony while reserving differences. Therefore, everyone must recognise and respect cultural differences and diversity, and ensure that all ethnic groups have the right to cooperative development in culture, history, and language.

As a higher education institution, the school must also have the spirit of inclusiveness and cultural diversity and promote atmosphere for mutual exchange, respect, appreciation and learning to promote the recognition of multiculturalism. Only in this way can we truly achieve the ideal society of everyone preserving their uniqueness, whilst living in harmony under the same sky.

JUNE 15, 2021

Source: Sin Chew Daily

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