“I was apolitical before… May 5, 2013, changed it all”

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.

  1. #1 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 - 10:08 pm

    Mazlyn, we just need to pray for the awakening of all Malaysians…. one by one.

    UMNO is evil beyond belief … leading Malaysians along a garden path strewn with rose-petalled promises and itsy-bitsy handouts.

    How do we overcome a party that is in such strong partnership with Lucifer and his devils’ angels? Even Tun Mahathir acknowledged UMNO is full of half-past-six devils. Yet all-too-believing Malaysians can’t see beyond the sugarcoatings and candies?

    Mazlyn, how-lah, how?

  2. #2 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 - 10:37 pm

    Will the silent majority please stand up in numbers and make it count.

    Don’t leave it to Ibrahim Ali, Perkasa etc etc to get their way.

  3. #3 by tak tahan on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 - 11:57 pm

    Why stand up when there are prolonged wheel chairs and clutches to hang on forever ?!? Siau la lu !! Don’t you know we are entitled to everything free for life…Malusia special endless possibility way of life

  4. #4 by Noble House on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 - 3:47 am

    It was reported today that Malaysia’s public universities continue to plummet down the list of QS World University Rankings.

    Only seven of the country’s universities made it to QS’s list of 800 top institutions for 2013. They are Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), International Islamic University Malaysia (UIA) and Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).

    Of the seven, only UM has maintained its position in the top 200 although it slid down from number 156 in 2012 to number 167 in the current list.

    Only one Malaysian institution has managed to raise its standing. UTM, which was ranked 358th in 2012, is now at number 355.

    UKM has dropped eight spots to number 269 and USM has gone down 29 spots to number 355. UPM has seen a long drop from number 360 to circa 411-420, but it has not suffered as much as UIA and UiTM, both of which plummeted by 100 points. Last year, UIA was in the ranks of 401 to 450 and UiTM was at 601+.

    QS World University Rankings attributed the deterioration in Malaysian universities’ rankings to deficiencies in “highly cited” research.

    The Education Minister II Idris Jusoh, meanwhile, remarked that those unhappy with the National Education Blueprint should study abroad. Really?

    Reality bites, Idris Jusoh!

    • #5 by Di Shi Jiu on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 - 8:51 am

      Noble House,

      “…those unhappy with the National Education Blueprint should study abroad…”


      I wonder if Idris Jusoh’s own children study or have studied abroad?

      Indeed, most UMNO/BN bigwigs have children studying abroad!!

  5. #6 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 - 5:06 am

    Like it or not, the likes of Mazlyn Mustapha who have successfully joined the global community as an individual, does not mean that things can be changed in Malaysia even if they act on their beliefs.

    Just because one is successful in one’s career, does not make one a builder, a changer. It just means your skills and ability is demanded and you fit in. Changing things, building things can literally be in another dimension, another world that can be completely different.

    The conditions that made Dr. Mustapha success and she rightfully wishes it for all her fellow community, just simply don’t exist in many layers she has come back to and worst some we had, likely destroyed by years of predatory politics and economics.

    Change will come only when the Malays are forced to or because they want it. Right now, they don’t want it, not most of them and it may not happen. That leaves when they are forced – and it will come

  6. #7 by Di Shi Jiu on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 - 9:07 am

    We need more Malaysians like Mazlyn Mustapha.

    Unfortunately, for every Mazlyn Mustapha, we have hundreds of ordinary young Malaysians who have been fed a carefully managed diet of BN propaganda.

    Many of these unfortunate young Malaysians live out in the rural parts of Malaysia and are artificially propped up by the financial largesse of unscrupulous UMNO/BN operators.

    Reaching out to those in rural Malaysia will be the next challenge for GE14.

  7. #8 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 - 9:08 am

    Dear Dr Dina,

    Malaysians have decided and have made their decision known. A solid 53% of them did. Yes. And they voted for change. It was momentous. Truly so. It could have been better (or worse for umno, depending on where you are looking).

    But umno managed to hang on. It did so purely on technical ground. In other words umno managed only a technical win – one which is without a majority mandate.

    In the past umno habitually claim to represent the silent majority. A claim made no doubt to counter the increasingly unsettled and noisy rakyat in their public display of utter digust and dissapointment with the umno government.

    In GE13 the rakyat threw that silent majority claim by umno out of the window.

    By building on the momentum, we ought to see the eventual demise of umno and its super greedy and irresponsible leaders in GE14. This is provided that the kampung folks are not told of some umno-fabricated extreme, baseless and ridiculous fear stories. And that umno be prevented from manipulating postal votes, gerrymandering, creating ghost voters (banglas, indons, filipinas etc), monopolising the media and resorting to money politics.

    Yes. Expect umno to do its worst. We will do our best. Umno must be got rid of in the next round.

  8. #9 by sureshpal singh on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 - 9:34 am

    she is just a drop in the ocean. Why are the melayus so ignorant and dumb that you have to give them a scholarship to study abroad inspite of their mediocre intelligence and results, for them to be enlightened? The British were right, malaise aptly describes them

  9. #10 by Godfather on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 - 10:29 am

    Nothing will be done until the country goes bankrupt. Yes, those who propagated the crutch system, and those who have been brought up on crutches, will never give them up willingly. It’s against Darwin’s theory of evolution to wish that it would happen.

    Only when there is no money left for crutches will the rakyat start to use their limbs (and their brains) properly. Pray for an early bankruptcy so that the damage can be repaired quickly. If this drags on, it would become increasingly difficult to repair the damage. Then we would become like the Philippines.

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