SEPT EMBER 13 — Going positive.
Consider these, for this Malaysia Day weekend. To help embrace Malaysia in these days of political volatility and fake news.
1. Look at the Asian Games gold medal tally. At 14th place, we sit in the ranking, with seven golds, 13 silvers and 16 bronzes. It’s palpable the distance to the pole China holds with 132 top finishes. Similarly palpable, the average Malaysian does not distinguish the medals won based on the colour of skin, social background of our athletes. Or if the garments were fewer or tighter.
They won fewer than other countries, but all their achievements are ours equally. They are Malaysian sporting achievers, no less and always much more.
This is when the reader realises, there is more which binds us as a people than not.
That we have become a people, and it is unfortunate outsiders realise how much we are alike far more than many of us, children of Malaysia.
If only our sporting appreciation is exhibited in other spheres of Malaysian life.
2. Check the reactions to Nas Daily on Singapore drivers. There’s this vlogger and he posts these one-minute videos, acclaimed by millennials worldwide. Not so enticing so far. He says, Singaporean drivers park great and it’s the Malaysians — read Johor — who do the crap parking on the island.
Love our cousins, I’m sure they fed Nas with the information.
Look, we take Singapore investments and concede they have a mightier economy as we cross the causeway in the wee hours to clean their malls.
But we won’t take this over the top kissing up to our humourless cousins down south, no matter how short a minute is at our expense.
“Reverse park, my foot!” as Malaysians — read mostly Johoreans — pile up visuals of Singaporean vehicles misbehaving when they leave Woodlands.
It’s a backhanded compliment to Singapore, though, that we require non-cousins to remind us how glad we are not to be Singaporeans.
3. Visit Borneo. Granted this call goes out to only the Semenanjung Malaysians, but I’m sure sons and daughters of Sabah and Sarawak won’t mind. The Malaysia Agreement is context rich, therefore purely on a cursory view, the average person born and bred in Kubang Pasu, Kedah would struggle to understand why any state inside the federation should have separate protections — cue, the 18 and 20 point agreements.
It’s better once one visits. For instance, two quick awareness kick in, the states are far away and together they dwarf the peninsula in size and natural wealth. But they’re poorer and left economically backwards.
The visit has a caveat. Semenanjung visitors must speak candidly with locals, and not just be ferried from airport to hotel via tourist spots and back to their flights. A first-hand experience would be far more valuable than hacks listing the grievances.
And be impressed, for the Sabahans and Sarawakians still want the federation to work despite 65 years of manipulation from forces our side of the South China Sea. Which is why so much is expected from the Pakatan Harapan federal government.
4. Read The Malay Dilemma. Don’t take my word on the present prime minister, read his first book penned during his lost years, after being sacked from Umno in the 1960s. The Mahathir Mohamad opus on affirmative action — I’m being ironic.
The views of the Langkawi MP can assist Malaysians to understand better why he is adamant to repackage it. Here’s a big tip, he hates to be proven wrong. It also explains how old fashioned the doctor is when it comes to social policies.
And as a man born before the great recession, 32-year-old in 1957 and belligerent throughout his political career, he does tend to oversimplify complexities.
5. Catch One Two Jaga. I stepped out from the cineplex hall satisfied, long after the end credits rolled to a halt. The continuous bleeping out of curse words and ending were off-putting.
However, the movie charts new waters by openly alleging not all is hunky-dory with our system. From the treatment of migrant workers to the impossible situation confronting low income earners, taboo subjects are on display.
The crowning achievement was to display the futility of the situation from many angles. A local movie which does not attempt to answer the central theme but circumnavigates it with its own interpretation in mind, rare.
That, and the Bangladeshi crew who cleaned up the hall after a movie about them being swept away by an unjust system.
Also, pay for more local flicks.
We’ve only just begun
Sure, things can be monumentally better at home. But home is largely intact. The fragile nature of nation states born from the end of colonialism can’t be appreciated until we realise how far ahead we have got, and how many have fallen behind since.
Our easy-going culture remains regardless of ethnic posturing by groups more interested in their political survival than the progress of the country or the evolution of the Malaysian identity.
That laidback nature is our perpetual double-edged sword which somehow our light-heartedness tempers to peace.
Honest stewardship remains a priority as we navigate through a sticky transition, but as long as we can laugh about things, ourselves mostly, we should be alright in the long run.
Selamat Hari Malaysia!
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.