I once had a conversation with my sister in law who resides in the UK after marrying her cousin who is a PR there. Merely trying to strike a polite conversation, I must have asked her more than once about her return to residing in Malaysia. Irritated, she snubbed me, “Why people kept asking me this question? I mean, what is so great about Malaysia that I want to come back?”. It’s not so much as what she had said that was hurtful, but rather how she said it. At that moment, I was just stumped. I wanted to just hurt her back by saying, “Well, what is “great” is that although you do not have a drop of Malay blood in you, and majority of your family strongly forbids marrying outside of your own kind yet because you speak and even though broken Malay and profess Islam as a religion, you are granted the Bumiputra status hence the really fat account in your ASB”. But I withheld my tongue of course. I don’t really care for the racial sentiments, after all, I am...well, if you insist on stereotyping; a Malay who married a Punjabi and this would be a testimony that I can’t really give a damn about racial issues. No, it is not the race issue that bugged me. It was the hypocrisy.
So what is cool about being a Malaysian anyway? I can write a book about why it is not cool to be a Malaysian, but at some point in life, we have got to learn to stop whining at what we don’t have and learn to appreciate what we do, before losing those too. This is of course and arguable statement, but I believe in staying positive. We are allowed to still whine about what we don’t have, as long as we do something to change it. To keep us healthy while waiting for changes to materialize, it won’t hurt us to stay positive and grateful with the good side of things.
So what is cool about being a Malaysian then? Actually, the main question you should be asking me is, “Why am I driven to point out what is cool about being a Malaysian? Let me share with you my little experience.
I once backpacked around Bali and I can understand why Bali is a major tourist attraction. Personally however, one of the hundreds of reason why I love being in Bali was the fact that unlike in my own country, the question they asked concerning where I was from just stops at “Where are you from?” It never got past that question after I hand them my answer, “I am a Malaysian”. People are contented with that One Answer as though they are part of the One Malaysia campaign. There were no more questions beyond that One Question. No: “Yaaa…but what are you? Are you a Malay, Chinese, Indian Malaysian or mixed from those or dan lain lain?”. And folks, it felt REALLY REALLY good to be able to just answer it the way it should be answered by all fellow Malaysians when such question is posed upon us, “I am a Malaysian”. Full stop.
To further make you understand how that felt like,again, try to reminisce the moment when our badminton hero Dato’ Lee Chong Wei fought in finals against China’s whatshisface. Do you recall how, how it felt like, for that just one moment, when we all forgot that we were Malays or Chinese or Indian or Dan Lain Lain ( I put it in capitals on purpose to signify that minorities are important too, although if I were to list them down here, I will not have time to complete my articles), and for that particular moment in time, we were all, simply just Malaysians. Tell me that didn't feel good to you.
Well, my hope is that my articles will create the same sentiments when together we laugh or cry or hate something about Malaysia. Or not…..
So what is going on with Malaysia these past few years? Well, here is how I view it. Malaysia is just a new civilization as compared to the countries valued with a long history of civilization. We are basically teenagers in the eyes of history. To me, what Malaysia is undergoing today, is just a growing pain. And like most teenagers, we throw our tantrums (what better way than to protest in street protests..although I’m quite taken aback that we Malaysians did not protest against the catastrophic Jerebu caused by amongst them, a few fellow Malaysians as I was under the impression that these protests were for the better future of Malaysians. There should be some kind of protest since there will not be many people to comprise the future should majority die from lung problems or accidents from poor driving view) before everything settled down again and we get distracted with our latest shopping complex etc.
I smile when anyone voice out their worries about Malaysia becoming something like Egypt. Well, for one, Egypt comprises of really frustrated people without jobs and most have nothing to lose. People without anything to lose are, needless to say, dangerous people. Malaysia has poor people but categorized as relatively poor. You can still catch sight of an Astro dish sticking on their rooftop if you look close enough. So after the tantrum throwing, block a couple of major roads in the process (although feeling smug and proud of that because apparently that showed the humongous turn out for support, never mind a few people suffering from the outcome of medical delay), we go back home feeling relieved that our anger was heard (and well, it is important to show some anger of course) and flip through the latest Ikea Catalog and plan for our next holiday trip. I don’t think Malaysians are prepared to lose their lives in street protests unless probably some Rempits who risk their nothing-to-lose lives on the road doing unthinkable stunts anyway. We are too spoiled and we certainly know that we’d be dumb if we lose our lives for a couple of spiteful politicians who can’t get along with each other. We are too smart for that. Besides, do you think those angry politicians will themselves gamble their lives if they need to put it on the line? I don't think so. Politicians do what they do best, employ the tools to do their dirty jobs. I’m sure we can agree with this even if we have many issues we don’t agree upon, right fellow Malaysians?
Then again, I may be wrong since there may be enough gullible people to get together and start a riot. Those who probably think that one cannot live without inflicting pain on ourselves. Can’t blame them, as Paganism is something that is deep rooted in
So let’s go through this growing pains together but not forgetting that despite all the tantrums, there is love among us the Rakyat and that was why we felt any anger in the first place. Not loving this country will only make us feel….indifferent. So let’s get angry when we need to get angry and show them we are angry in a way just enough to get the job done, but not enough to cause self-destruction. You think we can handle this Malaysians? I think we can.
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