BY DINA ZAMAN | September 10, 2013
The Malaysian Insider
Mazlyn Mustapha is a doctor. She enters the cafe we are in, in a crisp-like manner. Dressed in a blouse, long skirt, tudung and sporting sunglasses. Her hands are clasped tightly as she begins talking. She may cut a diminutive figure, but her speech is clear and measured, and she has very firm ideas.
She is from Petaling Jaya, and leads “a normal life. Nothing unusual.”
Her late father wanted one of his children to be a doctor, and when she received a scholarship to study medicine in Ireland, she did what he had planned for her. She did very well academically.
In short, she was the quintenssential school girl who excelled, and was expected to come back with a degree, marry, and practise, all of which she did.
A stranger in her own country
When she and her husband came back to Malaysia, they lived in Kelantan for awhile.
“To be honest, I had never been to Kelantan before that sojourn.”
She was a stranger in her own country. Everything was different there; the food was sweet, the Kelantanese spoke in their dialect, and life was quiet.
“I don’t mean to say Kelantan is bad, because it’s not, but it’s not home. I’m a city girl, and Kuala Lumpur is vibrant. I am sure the Kelantanese themselves don’t see KL as home, and wouldn’t want to stay here unless they have to. I need my polluted air!”
It is not just the few years in Kelantan that she has found rather unsettling. Having lived abroad, albeit for only seven years, but being trained, and used to a very efficient administration in Ireland, living and working in Malaysia has been eye-opening.
In Ireland, and Europe, many things are done online and within a stipulated time period. Telephone calls are responded to efficiently and with politeness.
“Now in Malaysia, if a doctor is not able to attend to a patient, his absence will be attended to by a locum. Our doctors are professional. But the administrative, operations side of things – you call and you are led around. In Ireland, they leverage technology, the Internet – it makes things so easy. ”
Being home in Malaysia has its pros and cons.
“The pay cut wasn’t very nice,” she laughs, “but you do have to sacrifice for your country.”
Malaysia has a lot of potential that has yet to be fulfilled. She can be so much better.
“I debate with my friends all the time, how come we have yet to blossom?
“Let’s take Singapore for example. Malaysia has so much more (natural) resources, and yet Singapore has achieved so much more. I think this has to do with the policies that we have. It is not based on meritocracy.
“We should recognise people who are good, whatever background they come from. They should be rewarded. Then you get good people working (here) and we keep them in the country. However, I realise that not all Malays agree,” she said.
It is time for change
She noted that Islam in Malaysia is practised in a peculiar way. When she was overseas, she welcomed the curiosity as she could explain her faith. It gave her happiness and satisfaction to be able to tell people what Islam meant to her.
Back home, she does not know what to tell her children when Muslims do not practise the basic tenets of their faith.
Again, she stresses that Malaysia has much to offer, but “things can get better”.
The Allah debacle, the Sunni-Syiah divide that she sees, is something she cannot grasp. She cannot see why there is a fuss.
“Islam has always been the same. It is the people who politicise Islam.”
She looks up as she mulls over her situation.
“It’s time for people in power to realise that the rakyat want a change, and not to expect special treatment. The recent general election has exhausted everyone.
“I was a different person before May 5. I felt politics was dirty and I refused to discuss it. After what happened, I realised I had to change. I could not not care anymore.
“I really thought we would have a new government, new leadership. I actually cried that morning. I had to work too and I felt that it was such a black Monday.”
So she has begun Facebooking with zeal now. Before it was just to socialise. Now she engages with her friends on issues and gets involved in causes and NGOs, as a volunteer.
“I have been thinking of participating in politics and I was thinking of joining a party. But my husband and friends are concerned. ‘Don’t Mazlyn, politics is dirty. You won’t be able to handle it’.”
Malaysia has progressed, she admits. Transportation is good. The LRT has been a godsend. Migrants working in Malaysia prosper in their way, and expatriates lead a good life.
“Malaysia is a place of opportunity. But at the same time, there is still a lot to improve on. Students find it difficult to study because they have no money. There’s still poverty in Malaysia.”
She hopes when she is 50, and that would be when Malaysia is 70, things would have improved greatly and that she is part of the change.
She leaves the cafe in a very precise manner. One gets the feeling she will be part of the change. – September 10, 2013.