Malaysia’s negativity trap

JUNE 22 — Many Malaysians are a negative, unhappy bunch. Something is seriously wrong.

There is no other way to explain a group of people who celebrate when 49 people are gruesomely shot down halfway across the globe in Orlando, Florida.

But this odd bunch are not an anomaly as the country is increasingly being filled with negativity; Malaysians live in a "pressure-cooker" environment and we will become a failed state sporting a hostile attitude if nothing is done to arrest the slide.

It feels like we are just waiting to explode as there is a serious shortage of positive news and ideas around us.

We are now ticking time bombs.

One misspoken word here or wrong turn at the traffic lights almost guarantees that the person next to us will lose it.

Ask anyone what are the positives about Malaysia and you’ll likely get “food” or “fancy touristic sites” as answers.

Even the multicultural mix does not stand out anymore.

Some of the driving factors behind this negative transformation are the lack of social support, reduced freedom, lack of generosity and a higher perception of corruption, according to the World Happiness Report 2016 under the United Nations.

The annual report which was released in March 2016 argued that “inequality of well-being provides a better measure of the distribution of welfare than is provided by income and wealth”, challenging the age-old assertion that income and wealth alone determine a society’s progression.

Of the 157 countries that were part of the study, Malaysia came in at 47.

Not too bad I thought, until I looked further to realise that Israel (11), Thailand (33), Algeria (38) and even Suriname (40) outranked us.

Taking a step back and looking at things from a more macro level, it made sense.

We are fed with daily news of political bickering which puts the average five-year-olds to shame.

The majority of us find our bank accounts are shrinking at an alarming late due to the twin effect of stagnant wages and the increasing price of goods.

Add to that the ever-revolving news of crisis upon crisis — the latest being the recently gazetted National Security Act and a shocking report of Malaysian children being paedophile victims — and what we have in front of us is a terribly poisonous cocktail which is fuelling our negativity.

I feel this every time I get an opportunity to go abroad, the latest being Berlin a few weeks ago.

For two weeks on German soil, I could barely find any similarities with what was happening back home.

To me, Berlin’s positive setup seemed to encourage people to think in a differently and possess a positive mindset; on how to further improve their already fantastic lives, to foster closer relations between fellow human beings, to focus on developmental policies as opposed to petty political fights.

Incidentally, Germany was ranked 16 in the same report.

The difference became crystal clear as soon as I got back into KL where it was a case of same-ol’, same ol’ so much so that I was beginning to think it a mistake to board the flight back home so soon.

And when I spoke with some colleagues who had also returned from similar assignments abroad, we all agreed; this place is becoming terribly bitter.

Malaysians, along with 53 other nationalities, have become more miserable compared between the period of 2005-2007 and 2013-2015, with Greece, Spain and Italy recording the highest difference in discontent among its people as these three were among the four worst-hit Euro-zone countries after the 2008 financial crisis.

In our backyard, the economic situation shows no sign of recovery anytime soon which further fuels the feeling of being down in the dumps.

And the negativity is spreading like wildfire.

William Clement Stone was spot on when he said, “You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you to your objective.”

Evidence points to there being no hope left. 

That was partly why I planned to dump my ticket into the trashcan at Berlin’s Tegel airport.

It would have been easy to just stay back and work in a very positive environment.

But all is not yet lost in this land. Evidence is not a prerequisite of hope.

As Malaysians, we’ve got a very important question to answer; “What is our objective as a country?”

Answer that and we’ll be on our way.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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