Excuse Me, So You're Malay?

Was on the plane today for our yearly trip home to visit the in-laws. Yes, Penang-Kuching.
Sat next to Leslie, a German girl who was travelling solo in Malaysia.
Started talking midway during our 1 hour 45 minute flight when she saw me snapping photos of the clouds. Now you know why I love window seats. (We didn’t really get witness a proper sunset today. Sigh!)
When we got talking, she told me and Nic that she marvelled at the way Malaysians live together, all different people, all different cultures.
It was that one thing that captivated her.
Our ability to live harmoniously. Our ability to accept and celebrate each other’s cultures.
She said she missed Thaipusam but she noticed Chinese women wearing sarees and joining the festival.
She loved our true incredible fusion of cultures – like the Baba Nyonya of Melaka.
She was terribly amused how she saw strawberries in the supermarket (she was looking for local fruits) and how locals went agog over them when she took a trip up to Cameron Highlands. “Come visit our strawberry farms!” She was told over and over.
She thought everything was cheap except the beers. 😉
But more than that, her words gave a deeper meaning to what we’ve taken as fluff. As pure marketing by Tourism Malaysia.
Malaysia really is such a unique country, where we are Asians with different cultures yet we can come together to share our festivals. No other place can we find such diversity, such colours of life. And yet we spend time bickering. I still can’t get over the fact that our politicians are STILL talking about us being ‘pendatang’.
Like I was telling Nic, without our hardworking Chinese forefathers, what Malaysia can we speak of? If not for Yap Ah Loy, do we even have a Muddy Estuary to brag about? If not for the Indians brought in to work the estates and build roads, do we even have our roads and highways?
So think about this. Malaysia is built by everyone, who rightly contributed their share.
If not for divisive politics bent on creating artificial boundaries and hates, we’d really be like the Sarawakians here in Sarawak. I used to think they were ignorant of real politics but they’re really the best personification of what Malaysia used to be.
In Kuching, you can see how being Malay-Muslim or Chinese-Taoist or Native-Christian does not matter. They all share the same kopi-tiam table, each respecting one another yet being able to eat at the same table is something you’d never see in Penang. That’s true muhibbah for you. That’s more bloody 1Malaysia than any stupid sloganeering.
Leslie funnily noted, if she’s born in America, she’s American. If she’s born in Germany, she’s German.
“And if you’re born in Malaysia, you’re Malay, right?”
Nic and I looked at each other.
We were too stumped to answer!

A Story of Malaysia Tak Boleh

This is from an email forward which I sent out to all my friends today. I decided to put it here on my blog because it riles me a lot that we still hear of these incidents happening in Malaysia.
“Dear all
Am forwarding an article which appeared on malaysiakini to you. I think medical care is a basic human right, no matter if you are a Penan in the Sarawak jungle or not.
I’ve always wondered why there hasn’t been a major highway link-up over in Borneo like what we have here in Semenanjung (our PLUS highway).
But highways aside, development is not something you get if you vote for the ‘right’ party or allow the ‘right’ timber company to come into your land.
If we’re talking about Merdeka, let’s talk about Merdeka of these people. Aren’t they the real bumiputera, the sons of the land? Why are they often neglected if they don’t throw a fuss?
Even if they do throw a fuss (mild by our city standards) they still don’t get the right help or
I get very pissed at this for many reasons.
If you have been to Sarawak, you will note that these people are kind and easygoing. Perhaps these traits are the cause of their downfall. They’ve been too kind and easygoing, so trusting that outside people exploit them! (In the case of timber companies, it is also their own people who exploit them!)
And talk to any Sarawakian and the vocal ones (my husband included) will tell you that the oil money is theirs YET it is used for development projects here in the Semenanjung. None or very little for their own home state.
No wonder the Sarawakians call the Semenanjung people ‘leper’, a derogative term for cockroach!
Anyway, do read this letter and if possible, tell others this story.
The story of a Penan woman who died of post natal bleeding in today’s day and age!” (You need to be a Malaysiakini subscriber to read the full story).
Or you can read a response to the story. This one fills you in on what happened to the poor Penan woman.
As it was first published in The Nutgraph before it got into Malaysiakini, I will re-route you to read the Nutgraph (original) version as you won’t get the full Malaysiakini story if you aren’t a subscriber.
Read and contemplate….I did and it made me so angry I had to blog about it!