Malaysian Chinese | Indonesian

Photo credit: Selfie

Photo credit: Selfie

I am Indonesia-Chinese, straight and a Christian. To be more accurate, I am half Malaysia Chinese, half Indonesia. My father is from Malaysia and my mother is from Indonesia. However, my father’s grandfather is actually migrated from China to Malaysia. On the other hand, my mother is from Indonesia, an ethic called Toraja, this ethnic group indigenous to a mountainous region of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. My father moved from West Malaysia to one of the state in East Malaysia, called Sabah. Similarly, my mother moved from Tana Toraja to Sabah for work too. Therefore, they both met here Sabah.

I was born in a town called Keningau. When I was 12 years old, we moved to the Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah. Ever since, we stay and live here.

I started to know that I am mixed-race, when I was about seven. Surprisingly, for my case, it was the adults that made me realise that I am one. At first, I thought I am Chinese, simple as that. Because my parents never really tell us that we are mixed when we were kids. However, adults always tell me that I don’t look like Chinese. Therefore, I started to realise that I am different than others.

I have friends with different backgrounds of races, religions and cultures. Some of them are mixed race people. Since Malaysia is a multicultural country, intermarriages are common. So, you will easily find friends with different races around you. I don’t think race is a consideration factor when it comes to make friends, especially for people in Sabah. As for dating, I don’t have any race preferences when it comes to choosing a partner. As long as we share the same beliefs and common values, race doesn’t matter to me.

At some point, there is certain point of view, which at some times, put mixed race people at an awkward position. It is not exactly bias or stereotypes, but mainly about ‘belonging or not’, especially when it comes to ‘categorising’ mixed-race people; trying to box them into one set of stereotypes or another. Maybe because of the look and physical appearance, that made some of us ‘failed’ to fit into a specific race group. Instead of accepting and recognising an individual, there are people that do not welcome such diversity.

For me, I always find that being mixed race is fun. The most common, first question people ask me when they met me is “what race(s) is/are you?” And my answer usually is I’m mixed. Of course, I expect questions after saying it. Questions like, so what are those mixed-races, which parent is which race, is it your parents or grandparents & etc. And when I thought giving the answer Chinese-Indonesia will be sufficient and turns out that I’m wrong. Because of my mother strong genes masked all my supposedly-Chinese-traits; I got questioned about my race a lot growing up. And every single time, up till today no one will settle at my answer when I said I’m half Chinese. I will get questions like, “Are you sure you’re Chinese?” or even “you can’t be Chinese right?”. Sometimes it feels like you are being interrogated. It doesn’t bother me most of the time. It only annoyed me when the person gives me the disapprove look. Surprisingly I don’t look much like an Indonesian too. Some people think that I might ‘mixed wrongly’ because of my look. Some even says that I look like Indian, Filipino, or even Pakistani. Mostly when people say these, they are shocked with my real mixed races and convincing themselves that I really do not belong to those races. But overall, I’m happy that I got this distinctive look that sort of blend into few of the Asian countries. On the bright side, it is a conversation start-up when I met new people.

If I were to be born again, I still prefer to be me, mixed race. Over the years, I learn to embrace the differences and accepted it.

The society has become more diverse with the increasing numbers of mixed race people. I do think that in the future, mixed race will be more common all over the world. Hopefully, will be more positively accepted by others.