Because the nasi lemak rocks

By C. Choong
June 08, 2011 | The Malaysian Insider

Negaraku, tanah tumpahnya darahku,
Rakyat hidup, bersatu dan maju,
Rahmat Bahagia, Tuhan kurniakan,
Raja kita, selamat bertakhta.
Rahmat Bahagia, Tuhan kurniakan,
Raja kita, selamat bertakhta.

It’s been almost 14 years since I’ve sung the national anthem. Fourteen. Guess that’s what happens when you’re shipped off to an international school system. All I remember about it though is the fact that half the school would get the lyrics wrong (kurnia……SANNNNNNN), and the other half would get it correct because we just spent the last music class being corrected about it. One half would try to outdo the other in emphasising the fact it was KAN… so the poor song was obviously butchered in the process of all this.

Anyway, why am I talking about this? Well with the whole brain-drain-national-loyalty-we-want-to-be-developed-GTP-ETP-MRT-WTV-government-scholarships-chaos-bag-snatching-shopping-crazy-elections-exchange-rate-increasing-subsidy-cutting-political-sex-tape mess that defines our country, I guess it’s normal for us to pick up the papers and be totally jaded by what is going on.

Sometimes I’m torn. I’m Malaysian but my Malay is pretty pathetic, my Chinese isn’t the best in the world and I probably know more about Hitler than any Malaysian from my history classes. But, obviously, I’m still Malaysian.

The older I’ve gotten, the more the elder generation complains about how unfair the policies that govern us are, about how they have had to work extra hard to make a difference in their own lives, about how privileges are enshrined in the system to favour someone because of their name, their skin colour and their beliefs.

Sometimes I can’t help but want to tell them that they shouldn’t have elected who they did at that time and kept them in power for years then. Blame no one but your own generation for creating and sustaining the mess that we’re attempting to sort out now. When the tide goes back, it really reveals the mess that is left behind.

Having been educated overseas, I’ve seen how well Malaysians (and South-east Asians in general) thrive in the foreign systems. Granted, by the process of selection, only the best get to be at the top-ranked institutions worldwide, but it has been a standing joke that in an economics class where the first 10 rows are filled with black-haired people, the grading curve will be exponentially skewed upward by 20 points.

At Economics commencement sandwiched between the two top-ranked economics students (a Singaporean and a Chinese national, both of whom I knew), at Honours commencement where the only individual to ever get eight semesters of full straight A’s (where the maximum you could ever get before was seven) was a girl from Penang… this illustrated to me how much talent our little corner of the world really holds.

So why come back? Well, family for one, a realisation that no matter how long I might stay in a foreign place, I could never understand or really take to heart their histories, their pride, when all my lineage comes from HERE.

Stories that shaped a nation define who I am, who my family is, and who we are going to be. True, the world is becoming more globalised, it is easy to move to get somewhere that exists almost as a different iteration of what we could be in no time flat, from the rural padi fields of Bali to 18 million people crammed on an island (NY, here’s looking at you), the sheer range of travel options we have show us exactly the mantles that we can choose to take on, and what’s life without comparing, without wanting to better ourselves.

We keep looking to the top and lamenting the fact that we aren’t there yet, but nothing in life is free. We have to work to get there, how have we forgotten that? At the same time, take a moment and pause, look at the countries and people below us, some would kill to have what we have: the natural resources, paved roads, conflict free for decades, a decently harmonious society, teh tarik.

We are unique, and we should embrace that with pride rather than let the media dictate the image we portray to the world.

  1. #1 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 8 June 2011 - 9:08 pm

    /// I’ve seen how well Malaysians (and South-east Asians in general) thrive in the foreign systems///.

    That’s maybe because we have first class environment of unfair discriminatory policies unrivalled anywhere from which to learn to strive and compete strenously (that others don’t have to go through), bringing out the best and forced to learn excellence and streetwise wisdom from adversity.

  2. #2 by dagen on Thursday, 9 June 2011 - 9:20 am

    Choong sees malaysia as home. Umno sees choong as an unwelcome-better-off-gone-rambutan-stealing-islam-jenis-umno-challenging-ketuanan-questioning-scholarship-snatching pendatang.

  3. #3 by PoliticoKat on Thursday, 9 June 2011 - 2:40 pm

    /// I’ve seen how well Malaysians (and South-east Asians in general) thrive in the foreign systems///.

    Well that happens when you have forced to grow up like a wolf that has been starved to point of insanity. The locals do not stand a chance. Discrimination and limited opportunity does breed the idea of the survival of the fittest.

    As you have had the privilege of entering the International School system, I would assume that you family has paid alot of money and sacrificed greatly to give you the opportunity that you have enjoyed.

    If that being the case, I beg you not to waste what you have been give. You owe it to yourself and your parents to do something with yourself. Wasting all that you have been given by coming back to Malaysia is…. unconscionable.

    Wave the Malaysian flag if you must and call yourself a true patriot, but many of my friends would happily murder you to take your place. I am not kidding.

    You have the opportunity to establish your family abroad, independent of Malaysia and her increasingly vitrol rhetoric, make a lot more money and enjoying a better standard of living.

    Also by being abroad, allows you to insure the financial well being of your family should anything happen to Malaysia. Remember our own 2nd finance Minister warned that Malaysia could become insolvent by 2019.

    If you cannot see the passport that your education is and waste it by staying in Malaysia, I am sorry but you do not deserve the opportunity your family has given you.

    Maybe once you have children, you will be able to SEE. One man took 15 years, a wife and children to realize how toxic Malaysia’s environment is.

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