31st August is not the birthday of Malaysia. It is the birthday of Malaya, and historical facts, with the truth and supposed impartiality that they hold, are not something that we be change. Malaysia was born on September 13, 1963.
However, since Malaya formed the foundation of the modern Malaysia as we see today, it can be said that Malaysia gained its independence in 1957. Therefore, the date is more appropriately referred to as Merdeka or Independence Day, but not Malaysia Day, since the concept of Malaysia as an entity was truly alien prior to 1963.
Having said that, HAPPY 53rd INDEPENDENCE DAY, Malaysia! "Happy Birthday, Malaysia" will have to wait for another 2 weeks.
Talking about our country, let's list down the things we hate and love about it. Let me begin with the positive things about the nation I call home;
1) Malaysian Food. No one can ever deny the power of Malaysian food in winning one's heart. It is an infusion of different styles of cooking, so basically we've got the best Asia has to offer. If you can't value Malaysian food gastronomically, try valuing it in an economic sense; Malaysian cities/towns/kampungs are teeming with restaurants that offer dirt-cheap food. And the Mamak restaurants are even open 24/7, making them an excellent place for the youngsters to hang out after pulling an all-nighter (studying or oh well...). Halal food's everywhere, and our KFC should be the best in the world. It's just great!
2) The massive malls! Yes, they are massive! My Bintulu has not been graced by the big malls yet (well, it's a tiny 'city' after all), but KL is full of big-arsed malls, which normally have everything. These malls can also be found near the city centre; Melbourne has some big malls, but they're normally located in the suburbs, which is sad for the 'inner-city' folks like moi!
3) Manglish! Well, we're living in a melting pot, anyway, so the language also needs to be rojak-ed, kan?
4) The strong, family-first culture of its people. I feel blessed that I'm born a Malaysian. As much as I admire much of the Western culture, (they are mostly good, minus certain things) I just don't fancy their family values. The kids seem somewhat disjointed from their parents. They're normally repelled to the idea of sharing things about their lives to their parents and seeking advice from them. Well, I don't share everything with my parents either (doing so may seem a little absurd, of course) but sometimes their advice is what I need when I'm faced with certain life situations.
5) While the level of English proficiency among the Malaysians nowadays seems to have gone through a tragic from-hero-to-zero-esque mutation compared to what it was in the 1970s, we're still very much a British-influenced nation, linguistically. Businesses are mainly done in English, and I don't have to struggle the way the others (Cambodians or Vietnamese, anyone?) do when it comes to communicating with the global community and settling down in an Anglophone country; the foundation is already there.
6) We have cheap flights to everywhere. Air Asia, anyone?
7) The most important thing about Malaysia: my family and many of my friends are there! I grew up there, I've spent most of my lifetime there, and my whole family is there. There's no home without a family, so that practically explains why Melbourne still doesn't feel like home, regardless of the good things they have to offer here!
Let's face it. Malaysia, even when seen from the best angle, has its weaknesses too.
1) The people. While the Asians are famed for their friendliness and warmth, there is something wrong with the Malaysian's 'mindset'. While Malaysians are generally able to tolerate racial and religious differences (the tolerance seems to currently be eroding, however), we've difficulties to 'embrace' differences. The Malaysians nowadays are more polarized than ever. I remember, back in high school, one of my Malay friends told me that we're not supposed to even have a drink (even skyjuice) at a non-Muslim's home. I asked him why and he's like, "Oh well, the kettle may have been cross-contaminated with something of porcine origin (pork)". I was like, "What the hell?. Who, in their right mind, would actually cook their meat in the kettle?" It was sheer paranoia and stupidity to put it that way, and I'm being kind with my words here. So yes, there's racism and a degree of religious paranoia going on across the country; rural and urban.
2) The politicians (many, but not all of them) have pea-sized brains in their heads. The ignorance of the masses is seriously manipulated by these individuals who actually give them empty promise of 'better times ahead' and whatnot. And of course, their speeches are so uninspired and full of phoniness that they should be recorded for the prison inmates to hear repetitively as an instrument of torture.
3) Malaysian Ringgit is not really strong. It makes online shopping less fun!
4) The weather. It's too humid. I prefer milder, more temperate weather so I can have a walk in the park without having to sweat :)
5) The mindset. The tidak apa attitude. Our streets are littered with rubbish and the toilets so unacceptably dirty they're a joke. The cities are so pedestrian-unfriendly it's just unsafe to walk around on foot. The horrid public transportation system just makes driving and hailing cabs as the only options available to get around the sprawling towns and cities, if you value your time as a precious commodity. If the latter's what you have to choose, get ready to be ripped off by the taxi drivers!
6) The career choices in Malaysia are admittedly pretty limited. You've to choose a certain career to end up with a job. Forget about your dream to become a world-famous archaeologist, for example.
7) The kepoh mentality. People tend to assume and assume of things with the slightest evidence. Not that they care about the sin of putting off slanderous accusations on the innocents, anyway. Just read an issue of Harian Metro, and you'll see that there's such thing as 'sure-shot' when it comes to making big bucks in the tabloid business. You will surely see articles with babi, seks, bohsia, arak, murtad, and khalwat as their centerpiece. Who cares about Global Warming, anyway? The media is part of the process of mass-stupidization of the society. "Give them opium and the addiction will distract them from the real deal". Oh well, I guess we're not dealing with opium here but something worse.
But well, with all its imperfections in mind, Malaysia is still my home. It may currently be analogous to a house with gutted wallpaper, leaking ceiling and blocked toilets, but it's still home. I love Malaysia and I don't think I will emigrate.
Here's to a better Malaysia! God bless Malaysia!
p.s. I've done enough ranting to last me a long time, I guess. Bye for now!