Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My hope for you, Malaysia

We leave for the US in a few short hours. Am hoping the babe will behave herself on the long flight back (she did pretty OK flying here, only from Taipei onwards did she fuss). Not sure when we'll next travel back since long journeys with an infant is more challenging.


I am reminded again this trip, as previous, though deep in my heart I'll probably always call Malaysia 'home', every visit I make, things seem more and more foreign. That I find more and more issues that only make me more certain that my decision to immigrate was the right one.

At the heart of my concerns, is the evolving and progressing racial issues. 15-20 years ago, perhaps I was blinded or shielded from all this, I never saw race being as big an issue as it seems to be today. The Lat cartoons of Ah Kow, Ali and Raju of yore captured those sentiments well. We played alongside each other, made good friends and never wondered why our names, skin color were different. No one ever question the others' patriotism, or belonging in this country. No one ever accused the other of being an 'immigrant'. No one ever told me to 'Balik China' until college.


These days, the tone seems completely different, in large part methinks is the fault of hot-headed or ambitious politicians who play up the racial card to win support, and the system itself. The major political parties are racially drawn. Schools (and indeed some universities) are racially divided. Certain jobs. Housing areas. Affirmative action policies that clearly have failed (it doesn't take a genius to see that if a program hasn't achieved its targets in 40 years, it's never going to. Also, it's a simple Darwinian concept; providing a crutch simply makes a group depend on the crutch and selects against the stronger).


Time and time again, the Chinese and Indian put up with subtle threats if they question too much. Threats like "Don't test our patience", or "Remember May 13th?" or waving a keris.


This seems ironic, as we have been independent for over 50 years. 50 years that one would think would give a country, its people and its leaders some maturity of how a progressive and modern society works. Instead, we seem to be going backwards, with the younger generations becoming more and more suspicious, entitled and perhaps bitter, of the other races. Younger generations using the term 'pendatang' (immigrant) on the others, when the truth is we all were born in the same country and are citizens (and this particularly stung when I had a KID, no more than 16, direct that statement at my parents a couple of years ago at a nearby park! A kid, who has not been around for even a third of the time my parents have).


People often ask me if I've encountered racism in the United States. The truth is, I've experienced more of that here, in my native country of Malaysia, than being a foreigner there. There, you are respected as a person, based on your contributions to society, not on your skin color or religion.


And right alongside all the policies that clearly remind us that we are different, and are not seen as equals, the politicians are spending taxpayer money promoting the concept of 1Malaysia. That seems contradictory, don't you think? In addition, if you can't see each other as equals in your own country, how do you expect to perform in a global setting?


And so, as we prepare to leave 'home' again, I do leave with this hope for my Malaysia. I do hope that her people will tire of the retarded rhetorics of the politicians with their own agendas. That Malaysians truly will see that we're all really not that different after all, and that what defines us is really our actions, rather than the amount of melanin in your skin, or what term you use to call God. I hope that we will again learn to respect and admire and take advantage of our differences, rather than use them to drive us further apart. I hope that her people will learn to ignore or even punish the leaders who play the race card, rather than flock toward them seeing them as their saviours. I hope that leaders will be chosen based on their abilities, not skin color (and for that matter, get rid of corrupt and greedy leaders in a speedy fashion). I hope that we will strive to better Malaysia for the good of Malaysians, not just for the Chinese, or Indians, or Malays, or whatever else race.


Perhaps you may say these are ambitious dreams that will never happen. But you know, I believe that humans, society, evolve for the better. And so, while I'm not holding my breath that things will change soon, I am cautiously optimistic that Malaysians will eventually succeed in seeing each other as simply that: Malaysians. Nothing more. Certainly nothing less.

Till the next trip, farewell.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

well written, doc. sentiments which are echoed with malaysians around the world.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Vagus, it's indeed encouraging to know that though you have migrated, you still remember your roots and have a place in your heart for Malaysia.
Not many are as fortunate to have had the opportunity to migrate.
Mainly due to education and skills, financial constraint, old age and family commitments. We Malaysians should not allow ourselves to be influenced by the politicians who have only their self interest at heart to "Divide and Rule" us. This is the only way they can continue to stay in power. Ask ourselves how/what we can contribute to help make Malaysia a better place. Ever thought of taking a trip back home to cast your vote during the next election? There are many groups of NGOs who are not afraid to voice the people's concern against the government. If we can't join them in their fight, the least we could do is to help spread the word, give donations and give them our moral support.
Who will continue to fight for the good of this country? Does it mean it's solely the duties and responsibilities of those who stay/left behind?

Have a safe trip home.

regards
Also a Malaysian

9:42 PM  
Blogger vagus said...

unfortunately, to make a 30-hr trip back just to vote (esp when i have to register first?) isn't feasible, esp the limited time off and family commitments.
i was informed though that malaysians overseas can't vote, unless you work in the embassy, or if you are a government scholarship student.
So shall have to rely on my fellow Malaysians there.
It's true that while we are far away, many of us do wish for the best for our native homeland and its people. ALL its people, not just the Chinese etc.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sometimes I think its our own fault as we are all judgemental against the other race.

don't read too much main stream media as its one sided. Ignore the brainless "Balik everywhere" except stay in Malaysia.

why allow others who feels terribly insecure by their own weakness & faith provoke our sensible mind?

have a safe trip back "home"

4:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think it's unfair to expect every malaysian to feel the same sort of patriotism as some would do.
if you feel malaysia has done you good, providing you with a good life, then yes you could perhaps be more patriotic to malaysia compared to others.
and yes, we keep bringing up the " we are better than (insert 3rd world)" slogan.
but i think we should start facing the facts and say: things are NOT alright and there is always room for improvement. sure, there are many small changes along the way and people are still "aware" and "informed".
but the fact of the matter is, the key issues like race relations are not great.
perhaps in places where there is a chinese majority area like Penang, race relations are better, but i can't say the same for the whole of malaysia.
one would say these racist comments are made by "UMNO putra"s who are blindsided by the radicals, but they still exist nonetheless. once or twice is still too many than the amount that we've encountered overseas.
do you think it's easy for overseas malaysians to see what's happening with malaysia at the moment? all we read about ( and yes even in the alternative media) are how things have played up. some stories caught the attention of the foreign press and have published it in the foreign newspapers.
if those who feel so inclined to be patriotic and want to contribute to malaysia, feel free to do so and go back to serve.
for the rest of us, we have our battles to fight here. we have our families to take care of. we can't afford to wait 10 years for things to change, because our children cannot afford to wait.
all we can do is read what's going on and silently pray and hope things will be better.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Faroth Key said...

i'm a malay...and i agree with you, indeed.

2:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also being an immigrant in the US (from a different country), I have similar sentiments about ills in the society when I travel home. Yet I find the buck stopping at myself each time I try to make my opinions. An unbearable plea to act against the ills clouds the conscience. But I am too timid to leave the comfort of the US life to take up those issues. I wish I had clarity of thought like yours.

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Immigrate To Malaysia said...

Now I have clear concepts after your post. I’m bookmarking your website for future references.

5:10 AM  

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