happy birthday Malaysia!
today i’m going to blog about how i feel about my nation, as tomorrow is her golden birthday. and i think she’s still damn good looking even though some parts of her are , err how to say, not really natural. over the years, she had gone through many constructive
surgeries works, face lifts and i could say she is prettier, but not as exotic looking as before.
i have never appreciated my country that much until i travel the world. i would like to quote some of my experiences during my past journeys, which i could still vividly remember and made me feel proud to be a Malaysian.
1. KLIA, the country’s gateway
there was no specific experience in KLIA, but more of how it has changed my perception from a closed rigid protester to appreciating its being. before it was built 1998, i was one of the groupie jerks who protested (and detested) the multi million project which have costed poor malaysian money and taxpayers. yes it did cost a bomb, but it turns out to be one of the national treasure. why do i think that way? for me, i judge a country from the first impression it gives me once i land and step foot on it. in any cases, airports should be as un-intimidating and as friendly as possible and most important of all it is reflective of the country’s image. of all the airports i’ve been to, i must say KLIA is the place i like most. yes most of the time after a gruelling mission or a long period away from home, i felt a tinge of pleasure when i land in KLIA. but not because of that. it has a classy, beautiful design, well thought architecture, clean, well maintained and cool airconditioning. everytime i meet people overseas, they will definitely talk about KLIA and…urmm Mahathir..let’s go to my next story.
2. Mahathir in Persian
in 2003, over at a remote village of earthquake-strikken Bam, Iran. nobody speaks english. neither they have seen a caramelled-yellow skin complexion of a southeast asian. they usually referred to me and malay friends as chinese or indian. i’ve been called an indian and a chinese depends on what they think i am. anyway, an old man who lives in a tent spruced up by the red crescent after he lost his family and home, asked me in persian where i came from. When i told him (with a help of a cute translator) that I am from Malaysia, he quickly replied, ‘ oh i really like Mahathir, do you know him? can you send my regards to him and ask him to come here?’ i was thinking, this is a random person from a remote, far away area, who do not even speak in other languages other than Persian, but is able to admire my own countryman. Tun Mahathir has definitely build a good image among the Muslim world, and they surely look up to him.
3. three races in a tent?
Bagh, 160km out of Islamabad, Kashmir border. Ramadhan 2005. another earthquake, and i was thrown out into the realm of the scene,again. but the conversation took place in Urdu. there was 10 of us, and 2 tents. i mean u prefer to stay in tents rather than in a building when violent aftershock could bring down the remaining of cracked buildings, even though the temperature reached 2 degrees at night. there was chinese, indian and malay in my team and we don’t have qualms in sleeping together in one tent. even my ‘compartment-mate’ was Dr Lai, a chinese paediatrics surgeon. i even prepared lunch and breakfast for my non-muslim teammates while i was fasting and they break fast together with us muslims. several kashmiri locals looked at our team and give a displeased signal. when one of them came up to me asking whether we are really friends, ‘are you not fighting?’ i was laughing my ass off on this statement, but suddenly a surge of pity crept in me, they (kashmiris) have never understand the meaning of peace. for them life is a constant struggle and fight. wow, i am blessed to be born in Malaysia, we might have our own disagreement but we are not in a state of a battle. i can still date a chinese guy, without causing a cold war in my country hiks..
4. acehnese warmth
despite their struggle of autonomy, aceh has survived the greatest tsunami ever seen in the history. many times have i been
proposed ‘chatted up’ as soon after they overheard my accent. i can’t hide my non-indonesian slanga nor can i get away with my lah, and kan postfix in my every sentence. aceh has long struggled for authority to create an independent muslim autonomy. they look up to Malaysia and its secular progressive Islamic approach. not just that, acehnese seeks medical treatment in Penang which is way cheaper, and professional compared to Jakarta or Medan, or even Singapore. they always think i would know the hospital ‘Lam Wah Ee’ (what?) because they think that’s the best hospital ever. i guess they did a good job in marketing their hospital overseas, hence the response. in reconstructing aceh, many experts were brought in from Malaysia (including me..hiks), to assist, because of our similarities in terms of culture, language and practices. many acehnese even asked me how to become a Malaysian citizen. i have a standard answer for that (because afghanis, pakistanis, palestinians also asked me the same question).” your country needs you and your expertise to be able to progress, why thinking of moving to another country, when you could be the agent of change”. this reminder also goes to Malaysians who left the country and build a new life elsewhere.
as you can see, Malaysia is in the eyes of the world, even in a bad light by the West, we are still adored by the fellow Asians. i pay a tribute to the Father of Independence, Tuanku Abd Rahman, and his subsequent counterparts.
my hope for Malaysia in the next 50 years – a balance socio-development, Bahasa Malaysia as the language of pride and a true Islamic Nation.
Alhamdulillah, long live Malaysia.