A Reflection Upon A New Chapter for Malaysia

Last year, I wrote an article on the defeatism of the Malaysian youth and how they need to break free from that mentality to create change in Malaysia. I depicted a rather depressing image of an entire generation of people that felt hopeless and weak to do anything about the problems that surrounded them. I am now happy to say that as of last month, my previous assumption is wrong.

The youth had not only pulled through in GE14 in terms of voter turnout but it also resulted in a historical shock election win for the opposition, marking the first time in Malaysia’s 61 years of independence. Johor, the state that had long been the stronghold for the ruling party, actually flipped spectacularly that I personally believe the shock, awe and amazement of it could even be compared to that of the Americans when PA flipped conservative. Such a drastic change simply could not have even been imagined in the minds of most Malaysians who were used to the doldrums of daily life under a government that appeared to be undoing every good the previous administrations have done. The infamous 1MDB scandal, the Scorpene submarine, the murder of Altantuya, the rampant abuse of race and religion in politics and the gradual death of freedom of press and speech; nothing seemed to lead towards the tremendous upheaval seen in this years’s election.

Is this the fabled Malay Tsunami that some have predicted will happen? According to some others, it would be more accurate to label this a ‘Youth Tsunami’ instead due to the majority of the voters being men and women between the age of 21-35. As a member of such a youth myself studying abroad, it feels surreal to be returning to a different Malaysia from the one I left a year ago. Even during the night of the election itself, I never really found myself being interested in the processions of the fateful day until after I received a message from my parents. PH had won.

While I am grateful that my fellow youths are not as steeped into defeatism as I once thought they are–and all the more reason for me to feel a rejuvenation of my patriotic pride, some of the recent developments that have arisen within this month since the change of government are worrying. The flaring up of racial issues over the opening of UITM to non-Bumis and non-Malays; the dispute over the PM’s choice of the new Attorney-General; the new revelations of the true extent of the corruption of the previous government, all of which pose serious challenges to the newly elected PH government. Though, I feel it would be more accurate to simply call them the Malaysian government now due to the ethnically diverse lineup of ministers in the Cabinet (and none of them are chosen through affirmative action!).

However, if the previous administration was a case of myself being ashamed by the Government and standing with rakyat, the negativity in social media surrounding needlessly racial issues is beginning to convince me of the other way around. Following the news that UITM is going to be opened up to more non-Bumis, online petitions and rallies pop out of the woodworks decrying the injustice of it all. How the special rights of the Malays will be threatened by this new influx of non-Malays. Oh no! God forbid having to actually compete against them!

Sarcasm aside, even as a Malay (though I often fall back to my Jawa heritage whenever some idiocy involving Malays come about), I fail to see how allowing a larger number of other races into an institution can negatively affect the Malays special rights.

Will adversely affect our right to state-sanctioned land? No.

Will it kill our chances at attaining governmental jobs and positions? That seems a bit too far-fetched.

Will it reduce our granted privilege of receiving more scholarships than non-Bumis? No, and I believe that, if anything, everyone should have a right to receiving scholarships based on merit or financial background to help those coming from the lower strata of society to uplift them. No matter what race.

Will studying with more non-Malays affect our ability to receive government aid in pursuing economic endeavors? Not at all. Heck, I firmly believe that by competing with other people, we can actually improve our overall capabilities in capitilising on that aid given to us by the government as we’d learn how to interact with people of varying cultures and backgrounds thus building up a potential network that we can tap into later on should we wish to expand our interests.

Finally, will it affect the protection of these rights under the Agong? Certainly not. While I do acknowledge that there is discrimination against the Malays by other races, the most oft cited anecdote being the language requirement for a job, we have to remember that a right protected by the Constitution is nowhere near the same as a language requirement. For starters, you cannot actually learn how to get special rights whereas you can probably learn Chinese or Tamil well enough given three to five months of intensive study and practice.

We also need to remember several factors regarding issues like these, the first one being that false information spreads faster than truth nowadays. I’d even argue that we probably know more lies than truths by this point. Opinions touted as truths are a close second as well so it pays the average citizen well to be vigilant about where he or she gets their info from. Secondly, there is no clear evidence that it will fully open up to non-Bumis. Chances are it’s probably going to be a bump up in the acceptance quota but I would not be personally opposed to a full opening of it.

Why would I? People have been complaining about vernacular schools for years if not decades for most of the non-Bumis inability to speak the national language and/or creating this separation between the races. Bodies like Dong Zong are usually blamed for making the Chinese in particular be ‘unpatriotic’ to their country especially with their championing of the UEC. However, when we lock them out of public tertiary education, where else are they going to turn to? How hypocritical would we be to demand the closure of vernacular schools when we openly show our propensity to keep to ourselves? Sure, the public state schools exist but I would be lying if I were to say that they are usually the optimal environment for a non-Malay. Some are more of a religious institution than a public all-inclusive school. Therefore, by making this first step into increasing the acceptance quota of non-Malays, we can gradually foster a natural bond between ourselves as Malaysians. The unified, harmonious Malaysia that our Father of Independence had envision 61 years ago.

Of course, this is not to say that nothing good has come out of this new change in government for the good, I’d reckon, outweighs the bad. Most of the promises made in the new government’s manifesto are being fulfilled, the media has become liberated though I do not claim to know by how much, Malaysia is once again centre stage in the international theatre but for good reasons this time and, at the time of writing, the ringgit has dropped to 3.99 to the US dollar. Our 4th PM-turned-7th PM is currently in the process of revisiting his famous ‘Look East Policy’ that put us at the forefront of Asian economy back in the 80s and 90s so that will be interesting to look forward to. We also have a woman as Deputy PM so that’s something we can add to our list of prominent women in the country later down the line. Her husband, Anwar Ibrahim, who was sent to jail and recently bailed out of it by our current PM, is set to be the 8th Prime Minister once Tun Dr Mahathir steps after his projected 2-year term.

Heck, all of this and more will be interesting to look forward to! This is the first time in history that Malaysia has seen a change in government so falling back on old predictions cannot be the way to go anymore. Everything I say might even be invalidated in a few years time, who knows? It’s only been a little over a month since the installation of this new gov.

Here’s to an interesting year ahead in Malaysian politics!

Disclaimer: This article represents the opinions and thoughts of the author and is by no means academic material.

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5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Discursive Experience

Have you ever come across a flame war? Those strings of inflammatory comments you may have come across on your favorite social media platform at least once in your life? Chances are, nine times out of ten, it probably just started from a harmless comment that expressed an innocuous opinion or asked a simple question.

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Sleep-deprived Sunday

It’s about half past one in the morning as I’m writing this. My head feels heavy, my dehydrated lips crack as I yawn and my eyes feel tired. The logical step to take would probably be to lie down in bed and drift off into slumber, right? Makes sense to me. I’ve got a bus to catch in the next four hours so being as well-rested as I can should give me the energy get through the day.

Unfortunately, instead of being whisked away into the theater of the subconscious mind, dull white paint and a bright orange lamp fill my view for a solid 20 minutes. My eyelids don’t seem to be helping me much aside from covering my eyes while listen to myself breathe.

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What It Means to be Human

Aristotle had once said that humans, due to their social nature, are ‘political creatures’. In a way, it holds water as people tend to engage in a variety of activities that blur the line between the public and private spheres. To some, politics is the art of governance, the machinations of the bureaucratic machine. However, in the same vein of thought, the unspoken struggle for power in the office, the constant chaos of a student’s life in high school and the invisible imbalance of power between one person to another are also considered politics to a degree.

This complexity of human interaction is what I believe to be one of humanity’s defining features…and also its most confusing.

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Talking ’bout my generation

If any of you mentally sang the title above, congratulations! You get a cookie.

Old music jokes aside, the old has been replaced with the new; the number 7 rolled over with a click to give us 2018 and the new year has begun. Barely a week into this brand new year we have a lot of news coming our way. Good or bad, depends on how you see it. There’s been hearsay that the world might see a nuclear war between the US and North Korea based off of Trump’s and Kim Jong-un’s tweets; the diplomatic ice between the two Koreas may begin to thaw as the North has been reported to have initiated talks with the South to Winter Olympics in Seoul and more political discontent in Malaysia.

Oh, and the ringgit is now 4 to the dollar. Hooray.

All of this news sounds like a lot to take in but what does it have to do with the topic at hand?

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Daily Hypocrisy

Apparently, according to the media as of present, we live in an era of “post-truth”. An age where fallacies such as ‘alternative facts’ or ‘fake news’ are real and effect the lives of the populace. A time where people can deny a truth by saying that truth is false and seek out other truths and facts can be swapped out with other facts when they are deemed ‘alternative’.

However, I have a different opinion: We have been living that way for a very long time and it is called being a hypocrite. Both sides of the spectrum that have been spewing these terms out against each other only use them to their benefit. It can be a damaging fact but if does not fit the narrative, surely we can pick and choose the facts we wish to portray ourselves as. We can say that the news is fake and fabricated but once it is released to the public, there will be people that will come to accept as truth not because they have been lied to, no, but they have been subconsciously waiting for that news to validate a truth that they hold.

And this hypocrisy does not end there.

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Upholding Integrity

“A leader is a statesman first, politician second.”

The above quote, according to the book, Dialog, was said by the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman when asked about his views on the priorities a country’s leader should have. This quote spoke volumes about the level of integrity of the man that was given the title of “Father of Independence” as it shows how dedicated he was to ensure this newly-liberated country of Malaya prospered under reputable hands. A statesman, according to him, puts the people first before oneself whereas a politician puts his own interest before anyone else’s. He also valued unity and frowned upon hateful rhetoric that threatened to break the fragile union of races. He negotiated independence from the British with a vision of a united and harmonious people living in a country to call their own. Yet, six decades later, is is clear that we are nowhere near that now. It would be more accurate to say that we actually downgraded ourselves in terms of values considering that a lot of people in Malaysia today would agree that things were a lot better in the 50s leading up to the 80s in that regard. In a way, they are right; we have devolved and that degradation of values could be attributed to the conduct of the people in the highest office.

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The Commercialization of Islam in Malaysia (and why it hinders moderation efforts)

First and foremost, I would like to preface this post by clarifying that I am by no means an expert on Islam and that this is an opinion formed based on the years of observation conducted whilst living in Malaysia.

With the negative view of Islam that most of the West tend to hold, it might be difficult for fellow Muslims to procure items which are deemed Islamic or exclusive to Muslims. Such items would usually be halal foodstuffs and head-scarfs which, thanks to the efforts of those who can stand above bigotry, are now rather easy to obtain. However, some countries seek to go beyond. ‘Why stop at labeling food when we can label a lot of other things halal or Islamic?’, was the question that seemed to pop up in the minds of these countries and one example close to home is, well, home; Malaysia.

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The Defeatism of Malaysian Youth

In the 3rd of April, 2009, Muhammad Najib bin Abdul Razak was sworn in as the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia. Since then, there has been an unprecedented level of civil unrest beginning with the Bersih movement. The movement, as the name in Malay implies, was formed to call for transparent and ‘clean’ elections after the highly controversial and still-hotly debated “blackout” incident in the nation’s 13th General Elections which saw the current party, Barisan Nasional, remain in power despite increasingly unpopular views from the public. From there, everything the PM did appeared to result in more controversy; the imprisonment of Anwar Ibrahim over sodomy allegations (again), everything to do 1MDB which would be far too much to condense in one blog post, many accusations of public fund embezzlement regarding his wife and most recently, his deal with Donald J. Trump promising to replace all aircraft engines with American-made ones beginning with AirAsia.

Usually, in light of such damaging incidents, a politician’s career would be ruined. Park Geun-hye was impeached for business deals and political manipulation schemes that would be laughable when compared to the dubious conduct of a regular senior officer in a Malaysian government office. So why then, aside from the Bersih rallies that appear to be tamer with each new iteration, are the people of Malaysia not doing much about it–particularly the youth?

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Guess Who’s Back?

best_meme

The long-winded hiatus is now over!

Sorry for the wait. A lot of things happened along the way (AS exams, school, etc..) and that ended up stretching out the hiatus for more than the intended month.

I’ll continue writing this blog although not as often as before due to personal commitments. Expect a new post every 3 days or so.

P.S:

  • Schedule not set strict and subject to change
  • May forget to update occasionally
    • In such events, beat me over the head for it (figuratively)