When white Anglo-Celt Australians, divided by sect but not by class, and upheld by a belief in the superiority of the ‘white’ race, its desert-derived religion, and the power of the armaments which enabled this race to rule over coloured peoples world-wide, came face to face with young educated Asians, many found to their horror a generally unexpressed superiority, based on history. Being stomped on by European buccaneers and the administrators who followed them left no great imprint on their sense of who they are.
As Kim (a real person I knew) said to his classmates preparing to enter university way back in racist White Australia, “I am of Chinese descent. My ancestors have been civilised for more than 5,000 years, long before the white man came down from the trees.’ That went down well! Yet, that was the attitude implanted in us all by our parents while they waited patiently for the interlopers to leave: we Asians are inferior to none! See my unpublished paper ‘Early cultural shocks: Asians in Australia’ from my address to students of Australian history at the University of Wollongong; and my 4 articles titled ‘Early cultural shocks: East-West relations’ in http://ezinearticles.com/?expert Raja A Ratnam.
Perhaps that is why, even in pre-war British Malaya, intercultural relations among the Asians were at a stronger level than in Australia at the end of the last century. After all, it was the white invaders and colonisers who came up with the concept of the ‘white race’, in contrast to the tinted, subjugated ‘natives,’ the ‘coloured races.’ Even some academics once sought to prove that the white race is genetically superior; some went as far as to deny that the Europeans had to learn anything from the ‘black races’ of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia and India. It is a pity that they had not met Kim.
For the record, I can confirm that we were taught not to disrespect white people as a whole, while we remained anti-colonial and anti-racist. Those of my relatives and friends who later studied in Britain confirmed that mutual respect was the norm over there.