Watching Malaysia

Whilst growing up I believed that all people were innately evil. Not once did I see an humble act of good will be performed for the general good of someone else. Everything I thought was done for an ulterior motive. As the receipt-ants of the NEP reaped their gains given to them on a plate purely due to their race and religion, the poorest of the minorities scraped a living to make ends meet. No one will ever say that we lived in an apartheid state because the economic climate made it difficult to realise how much discrimination ethnic minorities truly faced.

Sitting a cafe thousands of miles away and being a child of a mat salleh, I am in the firing line to be criticised of having no clue about Malaysian society. But possibly, maybe, coming from ‘the outside’ I would have a point of view that will help one look at the ‘problem’ pragmatically.

Every bus journey home illuminates injustice. Watching the condominiums and shopping malls being built, cleaned and maintained by immigrants being treated as third rate citizens. Seeing them walking home after their hard labour to their make shift shanty towns on the side of a development; and the shameful contrast of traffic consisting of BWMs and Mercs driving by. My academic performance showed that I took education as a gimmick and the bus home made me realise how much I took for granted, how much my peers took it for granted but I suppose I was the only one who realised.

KL seems segregated into class, race and religion. Some of which obviously overlap. Those that do, especially the upper class areas, seem to be characterless and numb. The malls of Bukit Bintang, the cafes in Publika and Bangsar, all seem to be dominated with rich wannabes who lack any form of individuality or taste. It seemed dominated by people who thought that their appearance in such location equated to status and power, looking down at those whom the thought were below them. Their appreciation of art and thought doesn’t come from within, it is influenced by what is popular in western media. It made stealing internet in Starbucks infuriating, you just look at all the fakes walking in- you just think: please, grow a back bone and get a personality; and possibly one day I will earn more than you.

Those who express themselves are in their rarity. They seem to mingle in the only segment of culture that DBKL have maintained: Central Market. Malaysian authors publishing their work in their native language, promoting alternative political and economic thought. It is refreshing, it’s  promising and my goodness it’s what Malaysia needs. In a developing country where growth has attracted more graduates to come home during a global recession, the flow of new ideas is finally coming alive.

Without immigrants, without our ethnic minorities, Malaysia would be a mere slither of ink drawn onto a map. It is them who build, fund and manage our infrastructure, economy and intellectual capacity. Do not get me wrong, there are Malays who work just as hard and have done some amazing work for the country but it is now that everyone should be treated as equal.

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