(Author’s note: I know I’ve been MIA for a tad too long. I’m not done being MIA yet but since this is a Merdeka post, hence being in conjunction with Malaysia’s birthday is pretty urgent, methinks.
Originally meant for an international student newsletter. I’ll check whether this is of ISA’s interest or not, soon.
I can be prosecuted if this is published in my country.
Then again, it depends.
It depends on who is in control.
For nearly 50 years, that didn’t matter.
Some things are just……unlikely to change.
Many a time have I written on the sickening politics of this misguided land of Malaysia. From the constricting societal norms of the local Chinese culture to the pompous Islamic moral guardians.
Nobody is spared from judgment. Dogma is adapted for the power hungry and the insecure and it prevails above the law.
In Malaysia, the constitution contradicts, ambiguously so.
In Malaysia, rights have lost their meaning, for both humans and animals.
In Malaysia, most of her education doesn’t prepare you for the world outside its borders. At this rate, it will never.
The politicians wanted it that way.
I hate it.
Imagine waking up at birth to a place you’re taught to call home. For years, you thought it was home. Your parents worked there. Your siblings schooled there. Your friends found you there.
Everything was there. Your sense of belonging; your home.
At least, it was.
Until you grew into the age of reason. Slowly, through experience, the blissful veil of ignorance dropped with pity past your rose tinted shades and you see that fairy tales you were told don’t often have happy endings after all.
Especially when you’re not born a Malay; a Malaysian Muslim.
Whose special rights protect the majority of the country, not the minority.
To better illustrate my affection for the education of real life culture, nothing beats first hand observation. Coming from a city of world-renowned friendliness called Kuala Lumpur, I have been accustomed to sour-faced servers and stoic cashiers. People didn’t say hi unless they were your friends. You’d be suspected of snatch theft if you so much as smiled at them. You keep your thoughts to yourself unless you want to be seen as an arrogant prick.
Malaysia truly Asia, the tourism department promotes.
And ever since I’ve reached the American soil, I’ve discovered many smart and outspoken people. People who care more about honesty than saving face. Though some may be opinionated, they nonetheless enjoy discussions.
The creative arts is so rich here that it enriches the sciences here.
It shames me to know what my homeland has been robbed of. By her governors.
Courtesy has a great meaning here. Cars don’t race to ram you down. “Thank you”s and “welcome”s are rampant. So much so that “Hi, may I help you?” surprises me sometimes.
I was forewarned that Westerners place little value on sincerity. They say “Thank you” and “Welcome” for the sake of it. Hypocrisy, the warning seemed to imply.
Initially, upon my first few weeks here, I felt the same.
I met this local girl at a poster sale and she was talking about Fight Club the movie and she enthusiastically expressed how we should watch that movie together. Like totally.
Another local guy expressed how nice it was to meet me and that we should hang out sometimes and gave me his number.
Eventually, we parted like strangers once more. I have yet to hear from them.
For some time, I felt as if they lied.
Gradually, I learned that it’s not so much about hypocrisy but more about common decency. It’s like how people should be nice to one another in public. Keep your bad moods to yourself. Nobody deserves to be inflicted with your mood swings.
After all, people do talk about things for the fun of it. Nothing serious unless stated. When it comes to the issue of small talks, I think what these Westerners are actually doing is throwing ideas around. Like “Oh my god, we should totally get together sometime and try that Pop Tart!”…
…is just an idea.
And people, who aren’t accustomed to such open friendliness, might take offense from being too serious about relationships in general.
I remember the last time I felt that Americans in general were insincere. Now, after making new friends, I realize that it was mainly because I felt lonely myself. In this newfound land.
Any sort of great friendliness which felt intimate made me take more interest in that person, more than I would regard the usual stranger.
So, I think, it’s more about the issue of one’s self-esteem, more than the shallowness of anybody else.
Humans have always valued a sense of belonging. A sense of security, harmony, and peace.
Even the biggest misanthropist would admit that, deep down.
It’s only a matter of who, what, or where you want to belong to.
I think this stereotype of “Westerners being friendly but shallow/meaningless” is flawed. It’s more popular to regard the Westerners as such because they have healthier self-esteems than most Asians, in general, as the former has been cultivated to be more outspoken since young, whereas its Asian counterparts have always been cultivated to be more passive at its own expense.
Today marks the 50th year of Malaysia.
I don’t see how age represents maturity.
Happy Independence Day.