You've heard of a banana republic. Now, welcome to Malaysia's Durian Democracy. The author takes on the thorny ( and occasionally horny) realities of Malaysian politics and its woes; and tries to show that behind that sharp image, Malaysia, still has some succulent, touching, and very genuine goodness in it. Not an easy task indeed, but then again, Malaysia has always been a hard nut ( or durian?) to crack.
I think we have a very serious problem in Malaysia. I think there must be a spreading contagion of zombies, threatening to turn our population into the undead. And I don't think we have some sort of hot chick ready to blast away, guns blazing, saving us from our fate. At least not in Malaysia. Oh well.
Now before you scratch your head in bewilderment and wonder if you got the right blog or whether your suspicions of my mental soundness were true, allow me to explain. I have not, in fact, seen any zombies. However, I can deduce that there must be some sort of grey matter hungry creatures lurking about because of the SHEER AMOUNT OF BRAINS DISAPPEARING FROM OUR COUNTRY.
Malaysia's human capital leak ( or should I say flood?) is getting worse and worse every year. According to the World Bank,the number of skilled Malaysians living abroad has tripled in the last two decades with two out of every 10 Malaysians with tertiary education opting to leave for either OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries or Singapore.
What those numbers mean is that if you are in a room with five people now, one person out of your gang will be gone. Poof! into another land where every Ali, Ah Kau, and Muthusamy has turned into a Tom, Dick and Harry; where people try to become darker instead of fairer; where air conditioners turn into heaters. Or they could have just gone down to Singapore. Yawn.
According to some very reliable sources, the push factors for the human resource flight are career prospects, compensation and social justice. Some Malaysians also cite better living conditions, weather, accessibility, public transport, transparent governance blablablablabla. Basically, Malaysia sucks.
And I dare say that again in big bold capital letters. MALAYSIA SUCKS.
Oh yes, the government is terrible, and as transparent as a rock can get. The public service definition of fast would have put even the Tortoise from the story the Tortoise and the Hare to shame. Yes, this is a country where Pizza Hut arrives faster than the police. Malaysia is a baking oven half the time, and the other half it's drenched in the torrential downpour. It's a place where you order roti canai and you can't even tell whether that waiter at the mamak shop is nodding or shaking his head. ( oh right, forgot about India.) It's a place where you ask "Excuse me, could I have a size L sweater please?" and instead of hearing "I'm sorry ma'am that item is currently available", we get two words: "No stock!". In a nutshell, so many things are terrible about Malaysia.
Enough with the complaints. For a moment, just forget about all that. Just humour me a while more, and play along. Close your eyes, and imagine your parents. They've taken care of you for years, nurturing you, providing so many good memories, a place to stay, food to eat- they've given you a life. Now imagine if they became sick. Suppose they become afflicted with Alzheimer's. They go crazy, don't recognise you as their child, forgot who they were, and start making a mess of the house. Do you abandon them? Or do you try to find a cure for them, help them?
Malaysia is now in that situation. Malaysia is like a senile parent, asking some of her children to get out of the country, telling some they don't belong here; she rages and messes up things, making life difficult for her children; she bogs them down financially, denying them some opportunities to advance their career. She has forgotten who she is.
And so have we. For a moment, just try to remember all the things our country has given us. Those late night mamak stall adventures; those times when we used our hands, fork and spoon, and chopsticks all in the same meal!; the ability to swear in four languages and seven dialects; to have our ears perk up at the call of the ice cream man; to have our dogs howl at the monotone drawl of the "Old Newspaper" guy. So much beauty in our country.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
That beauty deserves a second chance from us all. Rather than leaving, rendering the country poorer and at a loss; why not stay, contribute, do something. Help Malaysia remember who she is, heal the country of the disease; instead of blaming the country itself and abandoning it to its fate. You see, that's the whole problem with this country. Capable, educated people look at the situation, put up their hands in resignation, then pack their bags and leave. It only worsens the situation. This is our country, why not look at the situation, and resolve to do something now or in the future? Gandhi, Tunku Abdul Rahman and Martin Luther King were all pretty well to do people who could have jolly well left, or carried on with their own privileged lives. They didn't. And for that, we have a better world today.
I know there are difficulties, I know there are reasons to leave. And most of all, I know, Malaysia sucks. But the real question is: what are we doing about it?
I'm not saying don't ever leave for studies, for a job, for a trip. By all means, go ahead. But just remember, wherever you go, you are Malaysian, and for all the bloody diseases that plague this stubborn patient of a country, she's still alive. Malaysia lives. And she needs to be cured.