Sunday 27 September 2009

Our country a disgrace?

Upon my return from HK last week, something screwed up during baggage-claim. I will not go into details but it created a lot of frustration. Amidst the ruckus, an elderly man blurted --- “This so silly, such a disgrace!”. With so many gwai-los (“Caucasians”) around, he was probably feeling a bit embarrassed.

Indeed, the usual ramblings by Malaysians...

“Our toilets are horrible. What a disgrace!”
“People send astronaut to do research in space, our astronaut went all the way up there to make roti canai. What a disgrace!”
“Actually right, NASA only considers him as
a space-tourist. What a disgrace!”
“Look at our highway resting place - dirty and run-down. What a disgrace!”
“Malaysia has been blacklisted by OECD together with Costa Rica, Uruguay and Philippines. What a disgrace!”
“Oh, Malaysia has been removed.
But only to the grey list, what a disgrace!”
“Our country, always in international news for the wrong reason(s). What a disgrace!”
“After 20 years, Proton still can’t get things right. What a disgrace!”
Proton Waja heavily criticised in Top Gear. What a disgrace!”
“Simple thing like post-flight-baggage-claim can’t be done properly. What a disgrace!”

Care to contribute some?

But wait a minute. Before you think of any other real life examples, have you ever asked yourself one question, i.e. do you really expect things in Malaysia to be done properly? I mean, you seriously expect the Malaysian-way-of-doing-things to be of good standard?

Let’s say your answer is a big YES. Then, may I ask… On what basis are you having such expectations? Who and what are you benchmarking those standards against? Singapore? Australia? Europe? Hong Kong?

Let’s do some self reflection… we are a country who moved backward from RON97 to RON95… we are a nation who uses the lowest grade of diesel… we are a nation whose national pride is food, and our country tourism’s job is to
lay claim on some food... we are a country whose income-per-capita is nowhere near a developed nation… and we are a population who majority does not know what income-per-capita is.

We are a country whose reason in appointing a foreign minister was because he-speaks-English. And, we once had a chief minister whose reason (given in court) for bringing huge amount of cash into Australia was I-no-spegging-enlish, thus unable to read the law… and we are a population where a majority does not know who or what I am referring to because we are a population who prefer to read where is the best place to eat rather than proper news.

Add all that to many other boleh-ness of this country, do you seriously think we should expect things to be better than they way they are now? Let’s not kid ourselves. We should not benchmark our country with a developed nation. In fact, judging by recent events, being considered as a developing nation is questionable.

Let’s go back to the baggage-claim screw up where the elderly man blurted out “… what a disgrace”. The story didn’t end there. A gwai-lo, upon hearing the remark from the elderly man said…

“Hey, don’t be. This is Malaysia, that’s the way it is”

That’s wisdom, from a gwai-lo.

P/S: For the meaning of the post “Delay No More”, check out the first comment of that post.

2 years ago… More tales from conferenceConference dinner tales


stormsea7 said...

First! haha sry

Well, we ARE forced to take in news about how developed our country are

what you expect?

BolehLander said...

Aiya..this is 'BolehLand' everything boleh lah.

day-dreamer said...

LOL @ the gwai-lo's reply...

Anonymous said...

I think the standard of public toilets are a disgrace. I have just returned from Perth and everywhere I go (even in the countryside) the toilets are clean and they don't stink. They have toilet rolls for free. So unlike what we have here even in the malls!

bosscat said...

Malaysia Boleh! Boleh BElAH!!!


Jerine said...

Actually, I think Malaysia is much better than Australia in many ways - in terms of phone line, internet banking, electricity, dan lain-lain lagi. I feel that Malaysian service is more efficient. To tell you the truth, there's nothing great about Australia. the only problem malaysia have is corrupted government. other than that, we're so much better.

Malaysia Boleh said...

at least we have the PKFZ, ISA, Khir Toyo Castle, Zakaria Castle, Theo Case, Allatuya case that is not solved.

TG said...

Hehe.. I guess I thought many times, when I was in Malaysia: This is Malaysia, that’s the way it is” Does that make me a bad gwai-lo? :)

I think every country has its own way doing things, good sides and bad sides. So for me, I liked many things in Malaysia. People are pretty laid back, friendly, open. You know, I first stayed in Singapore for a while and the people there gave me the impression that Malaysia is so bad, high crime, a strict Muslim country and whatnot. And when I lived in Malaysia, I felt freer. I like both countries, but I'd rather live in Malaysia, especially because of the awsome people. Yes, the toilets are not really what I would praise about Malaysia, nor would I praise the politics and how things run. But so many Malaysians (especially Chinese) find their way around (they're forced to) and still have a decent life.

Your country should have its own criteria for what it wants to be. It will never be Europe, Oz, USA or Singapore, it will always be Malaysia. There's a lot of room for improvement. It's in every country.
I guess if there's more people like you, who speak openly, things may change. But it's un-Asian to criticise, right? The culture of losing face is the problem, maybe? I have no clue.

ZACL said...

What is that disgraceful foody thing? I suspect some of it is egg.

There must be some really good things about where you live, you're there! :)

j_yenn said...

Oh, Malaysia, land of gory
Where I found my heart's true love
In the night so warm and tender
With the moon and stars above

Really dunno what to comment la. No more words to comment/criticize/praise

k.h. said...

any action?

pavlova said...

MKL: you felt that Msia was good because a) you are a gwai-lo and don't forget the inferiority complex that I mentioned and b) you are not making a living in Msia (well I presume not anyway)

For a lot of the common folks, you really have to be at least above average to be able live comfortably.
Somehow the underdogs, i.e the poor and the impoverished are always sidelined. No social welfare to look after them, no help etc. And they continue to live in a vicious cycle to be in a poor state, unless one of their children decided to be the hero and lift the whole family out of poverty.

but then again, i'm one of those people who think that this country can do better. but if we keep on creating excuses and compare ourselves to 3rd world countries then we will never improve. and slowly we might just go backwards.

however i think by and large there is a lot of people out there who think nothing is wrong with this place.

so to each its own, really.

eiling lim said...

Actually we are partly to be blamed. All we do is to sit and complain but we did nothing to improve this. Most of us are just NATO.

Mcmercedez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kenny Mah said...

Oh gosh. That gwailo's retort hurt way more than the rest of your post. Ouch. :(

economist said...

i dont ask for much but maybe just some small things listed below:-

a) if a fast food outlet/restaurant allows you to help urself to the soft drinks (in bottles)in a chiller on the outside of the counter, just take what you are entitled and nothing more

b) do not abuse common public amenities not meant for urself...i.e. handicapped parking/toilet

c) obey basic traffic and parking rules

if can see all of the above being practised in MSIA on a regular basis before leaving this planet, i will leave a happy and contented man........

Mcmercedez said...

Sigh.. Such a disgrace being a Malaysian.. Its very clear to us now on other country's perception towards us.. A laughing stock country... In Cantonese 'Sieu Peng'

Judging by the resources our country has, we should be way far advance than other countries like Japan, US and etc.. And yet look at where we are now?? Its really a disgrace.. The things that they are damn good at are:
1.) how to make more money for themselves,
2.) putting out no-brainer statements,
3.) pardoning terrorists,
4.) mild punishment for carrying a cow head but ISA for candle barriers,
5.) NATO
6.) Placing the wrong people in the wrong job (cronies approach)
and etc... and etc.. (I think until tomorrow also cannot finish)

I don't see what else we can do.. Look at the last GE.. Citizens wants a change.. But look what had happened after that? The unprofessional and non-gentleman people find ways to make sure the changes does not happen.. Why? Because if the changes really happen, so are their pockets.. So tell me.. What can we do??

Conclusion: -100% in things that they are suppose to do and 110% on things that are not suppose to do.

Total disgrace!!!

Anonymous said...

zewt, you're gonna be ISA-ed

Ken Wooi said...

i hope malaysia can be a better country.. with or without being compared to other countries..

but the expectation is quite low.. so.. hmm..

fufu said...

well after travelling around the world... i still love malaysia... though european countries, australia, new zeland, singapore, hokong, and other developed countries are much better than malaysia... yet i still flying back :) what you guys need to do is give me all the votes... trust me i will rule better than anyone =p

Terra Shield said...

It's a comparison to what you're expected to expect. Or common sense.

wong said...

in china doing business we avoid telling we are malaysian..we hear the chinese there conned fact we conned them so many times until those factories esp the taiwanese operated prefer not to deal with this country the chinese small medium industries ..thinking having 200 workers driving a merc or bmw is dacting like boss..havent seen big snake shit before.. in china ,having 200o workers on 3 shuft is common..the boss is hand on at the plant drive his own van, ,,
till date , at those lamenting the bank are not supportive ? how are bank to lend when yr biz is outdated after all ..the loan end up covering holes...

this is malaysia another version ..

Huei said...

the police case who refuse to enter the building...a disgrace?


but i do agree with the guai lou...that's the way it is! ppl wan clean toilet..clean environment...n yet they themselves litter everywhere! well..some does la..not all!

TG said...

@pavlova, I agree with you. Of course it's different for me, since I'm not Malaysian. I'd rather focus on good and some bad points. No countrymen like to see a foreigner criticizing their country, even if they think he was right. ;-)

Anonymous said...

this is Malaysia, after all. :)
how true.
disgrace is nothing to most, what's with the biased media, political bickering for close to 2 yrs now (not counting the previous episodes), and happy people embracing the 1Malaysia concept.

or not. :)

Terra Shield said...

zewt... do you know your post is featured on Malaysia Today?

ducky said...

Come 2020 Malaysia will declare it self a fully develop country by God knows what standard!

ee chia said...

ahahahah... I can sense your anger!

blackjack said...

hey zewt, malaysia today pimped this post of yours.

zewt said...

stormsea7 - i think we have a choice to make the right discernment, dont u think?

BolehLander - indeed.

day-dreamer - :P

Mei Teng - tell me about it. the toilets in HK are all immaculate!!

bosscat - what is beiah?

Jerine - corruption alone breed many things. RM2.8 = AUD1 ... seriously, which side would you want to be? and i dont think the internet banking here is fantastic, neither is electricity. and the wonders of it all... the police force.

Malaysia Boleh - you made is sound like some pride :P

zewt said...

MKL - there may be many things that are "beautiful" here. but to me, when public safety and trust towards police diminished, it is extremely worrying. and trust me, we dont want to end up in a position when safety and police help is found calling, that would be too late. i appreciate your view towards malaysia, but i think we deserve better...

ZACL - i may be here... but not for long i tell u :)

j_yenn - in this land we call home, when you're in deep shit you will be alone.

k.h. - at least i am blogging about it :P

pavlova - yeah, when it comes to social welfare, we are way of the standard. compare our tax rate to the social welfare, we are shite!

eiling lim - absolutely.

Life for beginners - that's reality.

zewt said...

Economist - hahahaha... i think you might not live to see that day judging at the way things go.

Mcmercedez - i plan to write a fiction piece on "what could have been", that would be cool... would it?

anon @ 28/9 10.58am - shite!!!

kenwooi - better but low... doesnt go my friend... :P

fufu - u go run... i will vote for u! :)

Terra Shield - expected to expect... that's chim... :)

wong - hmmm... i must say, i am a bit lost there...

zewt said...

huei - hahaha... who? :P

J2Kfm - hello there. welcome to AZAIG. looks like disgrace is part of the malaysian life already eh?

Terra Shield (again) - yeah... do light a candle for me when i am being ISA-ed.

ducky - malaysian standard... apa lagi :P

eechia - hidden deep within :P

blackjack - i am gonna sue them :P

Unicorn Girl said...

I can truly understand the poor old man's frustration ..........

missironic said...

Hahaha.. well said to the gwai lo! :P

foongpc said...

Malaysia has a lot of things that we Malaysians are ashamed of. Certainly there is a lot of room for improvement. However, I still love Malaysia. It is my country : )

Anonymous said...

oh sure, the gwailo would upon coming back to his country emit a sigh of relief. because he has the security at home which no one can deny him. in case of need he can apply for dole or other welfare services and first and foremost he has clean toilets everywhere he goes (nearly);).
he does less work in M'sia(if at all) then he'd do in his country.
living for good in a country is a lot different than being there temporarily.

Malaysians have the capability and dough to make good basic amenities available for the general public. but they don't THAT IS A DISGRACE!

Anonymous said...

Its a country blessed with natural resources, diversified culture heritage and its peoples harmonious in predisposition. The people are generally friendly, especially to foreigners. But now, it is a paradise lost. Its a disgrace. Mis-administered, mismanaged, misruled, mis-educated, misguided, mis-evolved... Its a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

From Mak Jun Yeen,

Dear Zewt.

Malaysia is a disgrace?

Now that's a strong word.

Let me tell you, Malaysia is not a disgrace, Malaysians are.

We not only whine and complain about our country all the time, we also love to destroy it. We are actually spoilt brats.

When the going get tough in our country or that we are not getting what we want, we whine like spoit brats. Some even resort to migrating.

I have travelled to many countries. In the UK the higher tight upper lip classes dont treat the working class and even coloured people as dirt, the just pretend you dont exist.

My 6 year old son and I carrying my 3 year old have to stand on a train for 3 hours amisdt seated smartly dresses British doctors and professionals, none offered their seat, What a disgrace.

I've met a Belgian expat in Redang who shuttle between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur for work, he said despite the efficiencies of the former and the relative chaos the latter, he feels that he can breath once he had crossed the cause way into JB.

My Indian national neighbour who have lived in many countries like to say to me that she prefers Malaysia to Singapore because the latter seems artificial whereas Malaysia feels like a normal country.

The examples given above is not meant to downgrade Singapore but just to illustrate that foreigners can see our country's goodness and advantages while we are only nick picking on its failings.

A country is just a concept and particular geogaphical region.

It is its people that make the what the country's about. Without its people, no one can say whether this country is good or bad but just an empty piece of land,

zewt said...

Unicorn Girl - cos we all feel the same way... right? :)

missironic - they know us well.

foongpc - i think none of us despise this country... just that love cannot improve our welfare and safety.

anon @ 28/9 10.01pm - totally agree with your last sentence.

anon @ 29/9 8.17am - plenty of misses isnt it? and worst... we are all still missing the point.

Mak Jun Yeen - i agree with your points. but one thing though... speaking about singapore and perhaps, being fake and all, no one can deny that the uphold of law and high level of safety is something we crave for.

Vincent said...

O Zewt, your post makes me nostalgic for the Malaysia I knew - especially when I first went to Sabah in 1981. You tempt me this morning with a picture of nasi lemak! Your gripes remind me of the cartoons of Lat, whose nostalgia for an even earlier time touches my heart.

I hope the way Malaysia is remains recognisably the Malaysia I knew. Sounds as though it does.

jam said...

Haha, nice one! At the end, we have actually ourselves to be blamed! Like the gwai lou said, "This is Malaysia"! Sound ironic but true!

JK Holdings said...

yupe, sounds very sad for me.

zewt said...

Vincent - you know who Lat is? you must have spent a considerable amount of time here...

jam - the thing is... we are just not there... we need to solve so many other things before we can expect things to be doen at a certain standard.

JKfund - hello there... indeed.

pinknpurplelizard said...

I find the english thing to be a sad case. I mean most ministers are sent to universities and if not London for their education so its such a lame excuse that they english literate. Is the requirement for a menteri position to be SPM with a pass in BM?!

The dumb thing is that they are reverting back to BM for the school syllabus and not making english a compulsory subject to pass.

Vincent said...

Zewt, I have not spent long in Malaysia but I married a Kadazan from Sabah & we had 20 years together---in UK apart from visits; so have been able to follow the politics & culture over the years, from a distance.

Back in '81 (to pick up from pinknpurplelizard) most Malaysian adults could speak English at least a bit because it was still officially the lingua franca, used as the classroom language, as I understand it.

the switch to bahasa malaysia in schools was another racist move, which rebounded in 2 ways, I believe: harder to pursue further education overseas if you have poor English; and encouraged parents to use private schools, especially Chinese ones. Even some non-Chinese (such as Kadazan-Dusuns) would send their children there for the better education.

Anonymous said...

Dear Vincent

You have put down the switch to BM as a "racist move".

The insinuation you convey is that BM medium education is inferior to English medium just like many comments I read here. The insinuation betray a linguitic patronising bordering on linguistic chauvinism.

But to say a that a national school that use BM as its main medium of instuction is racist is as preposterous as saying that the use of Dutch Language in Holland is racist to the Frisian and German speaking minorities or that the use of English as the medium of instructions in the US public schools is racist to Spanish speaking minorities to prevent them from getting into Universities in Latin countries due to poor command of Spanish.

What about the switch from French to English in the 1500s in England? Was it designed to prevent the English yobs from receiving the superior civilisation from across La Manche.

English was and still is the lingua franca amongst the educated elite in Sabah. BM has always been the lingua franca among the polygot common folks in Sabah before the English set foot there and after.


Vincent said...

Sorry I should have spelled out what I meant by the switch to BM being a racist move. First I should apologize for expressing that as racist: more accurate would be to say "nationalist". The difficulty as I saw it was this. If at home you spoke, let's say, Hakka, or Tamil and your parents want you to have the best education and prospects, they hope for you to get higher education, the best of which for Malaysians was and I believe still is found overseas in English-speaking countries.

As you say, the lingua franca on the streets and in the markets is and has been Malay. Everyone needs to learn a bit of that even the white mat sallehs who stay only for a short time.

To the parents of a Chinese or Tamil child, the use of BM as the teaching language in schools must appear as an attempt to make them feel handicapped in their own country. then, when they learn to speak BM as a second language well enough to win a scholarship to study overseas, they will still need to be fluent in a third language, normally English to gain their degree.

That is what I meant to say. If I am wrong, I'll be glad to admit it.

Forcing minorities to speak the dominant language has long been a means of oppression.

Your point about the switch from French to English in the 1500s in England is not quite correct. It's a more complex story. The main language was Anglo-Saxon till the Norman Conquest in 1066. Then there were two languages: Norman French for the rulers, Anglo-Saxon for the ruled. The main language used in education, for those lucky enough, was Latin, I think, which was easier for those starting from French but a distinct language by that time.

The English were to blame for using their power over the Welsh, Scots and Irish to pretty much wipe out the use of the native languages. Let us not call that racist, for the term had not been invented. Let's call it imperial brutality.

Vincent said...

What I should have added to my last was that Norman French and Anglo-Saxon merged into a single language quite naturally, and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is an early example of literature in true English - written around 1390.

bosscat said...

zewt, belah la...

pinknpurplelizard said...

I totally agree with Vincent. How often is Malay spoken outside of Msia? English is a more accepted language compared to BM. How are citizens who have poor English language comprehension suppose to better themselves and the country in the tourism year?

Anonymous said...

dear Vincent

Thanks for your clarification.

Hope I have not put you in a backpedal.

The fact is, if you speak Hakka or Tamil at home in Holland your not going to ask the Dutch goverment to change the medium of instruction into English and leave Dutch by the way side.

If you speak Lao or Yawi or Hokkien at home in Thailand your not going to ask the Thai Goverment to use English or may be Mandarin as main medium so why pick on Malaysia.

When I went to Bali and speak Bahasa Indonesia to the taxi driver, his face light up and he converse in return in flawless and elegant BI couple with a sense of pride even though he dont speak it at home.

I dont want to debate on the why of using BM as main medium of instructions and I agree English should play a bigger role in our national schools set up though not in maths and science. But our linguitic chauvinists from the BM, Mandarin and Tamil associations put paid to that. Nothing to do with the Govt.


zewt said...

pinknpurplelizard - oh come on... u and i know the difference between reasons and excuse...

Vincent - ohhh... you have a malaysian connection there. but sad to know that she is now your ex-wife, hope it was a clean break for you. reply to your other points below...

Mak Jun Yeen & Vincent - i think we all have our own point, i.e. different place will place different emphasis on certain lanaguage. but i think we should also acknowledge the fact that english is the international language for business purposes. if you want your country to prosper and raise your country's profile at the international stage, you need to be able to communicate on a common language. english seems to be that language at the moment, though mandarin is rising fast.

racist movement or not, putting BM as the medium for education does somewhat put our future generation on the backfoot, if they all grow up only mastering BM, no one will be interested in doing business with us.

remember, we already have got not much thing to offer. public governance and confidence is already dwindling. add that to our lack of willingness to converse is english will only be a digging-own-grave move.

that's what i think.

bosscat - ahhh... my bad... my bad.

Shaun said...

Well, Malaysia income tax is lower than other developed countries. HAve you all considered that?

The way they do things overseas, many of you would be out of a job, have you considered that?

zewt said...

Shaun - ahhhh...i need to consider that?

KittyCat said...

One thing's for sure...Malaysians (up there or down here) are good at criticising and discussing about what's wrong out there.

However, we are not that good at accepting criticism/feedback and acting on them. But I see a positive trend starting from "Malaysian Idol". Are shows like this still on???

In China, there are TV and radio talk shows where the public can call in and complain about what's bugging them. I mean, SERIOUS complaining - I've heard men and women getting all heated up about a crack in the road etc. And the municipal councils etc act fast based on this feedback.

I think we should adopt Nike's slogan for our next Merdeka or election campaign: "JUST DO IT"!!!

I am a "xiang jiao ren" but I sure miss the Chinese' efficient machinery in operation. Interestingly, they don't think it's a problem to copy the good ideas out there e.g. Singapore.

Malaysia always has a problem about doing what Singapore's doing even if it's something that works!

Pride goes before a fall ler...

zewt said...

KittyCat - no more malaysian idols lor... plagiarism la that one haha.... anyway, you are right... the whole world is focusing on improving (except for some african nation), malaysia is focusing on so many other brainless things.

Vincent said...

Hm, I just want to speak up for "some african nation", or indeed all of them, though I have nothing to say. I'd like to think they don't need to improve, having mastered the art of living happily already. But I'd be talking at cross-purposes, for you and I may have different notions of "improving".

It seems like only yesterday that Malaysia's idea of improving was the information super-highway, or some such.

I'm interested in the soul of a country, the gracefulness of everyday living, regardless of political corruption & economic status. Malaysia has always scored high in what matters, in my estimation, without being aware of (or perhaps without being vocal about) such treasures.

zewt said...

Vincent - fair enough, if a nation is happy at where they are, i guess there is no need for external influence. but i think african nations are always in civil war and that can be healthy.

as for my country, well, many of us here just expect more... we deserve better than this.

Anonymous said...

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