Over the last raya holidays I met several interesting foreigners. One New Zealander who has been here for the past 3 years said something that jolted me. She said that we have a beautiful country, very friendly people, reasonably good development around the Klang Valley, Penang, Malacca and Johor Baru. However, she said that we appear to be a sick society. Sick? What did she mean? Sick as in we are not healthy? In what way?
What do you mean sick? She said; Well, I notice there are great attempts by most Malaysians to appear courteous to each other to the point where I am not sure whether it is real or a put on. Malaysians are easily offended by the “f” word for example but they have no qualms at all about “f…..ing” you in other ways in life.
Come on, I said. This is cultural. We do not condone the “f “ word. It is vulgar. Unnecessary. That’s not fair. “You are missing the point”, she continued, “I am not encouraging the use of the word. What I meant to show is the hypocrisy of many Malaysians”.
“Well, that is human nature is it not?, I replied.
“Not really. You seem to have so much ostensible display of virtues that it just stops there. It never seem to get translated into reality. Example, you get worked up about temple and mosque issues, but hardly anyone really cries out against corruption or even feels that it is a major crime against humanity”.
“Now wait, wait, wait a minute”, I protested, “Even our PM is against corruption. We have been talking about corruption especially for the past 4 years. And…even that Ezam fellow has an anti-corruption body. There are more people being charged now”.
“Wow, politicians against corruption. That’s cool”, she sounded almost sarcastic.
“What’s wrong”, I irrationally retorted.
She interrupted me: “Again you are missing my point. I have spoken to quite a number of Malaysians. They seem to be able to tolerate corruption among the leaders and civil servants. I actually have heard people say, so what if he is corrupt, he is a good leader!”
Well, obviously being a New Zealander with very little room for corruption, she does not seem to understand our tolerance levels. I mean we are not living in Jannah or Nirvana or Heavan or Syurgam . This is earth and in particular, this is Malaysia. Maoris!
Now I went on the attack, trying not to look into her beautiful blue eyes “And that alone makes Malaysians sick?”.
“Thought you never asked. Well what about your talk of loving, caring society, Islamic and Asian values…on the other side you have drug problem, gambling problem as you wrote on your blog, mat rempit problem, high crime rates, and ISA”.
Wow, the last bit was difficult to swallow. How in the world did she manage to slip in ISA? I decided to go for the easier argument:
“Dear, every society have their share of social problems in varying degrees”.
“Yes. True. My point is we do not go around singing songs of how virtuous we are like you Malaysian do. You people seem to have a penchant for slogans, Malaysia boleh. Masyarakat Penyayang and so on. Why so much doubt that you need such reinforcements?”
“And you people cannot take criticism”, she said.
“Oh yes we can”, I replied.
“Friend, you people cannot. I have been told to be polite in criticizing when actually what they meant was that I should sugar coat it. How do you sugar coat that someone is indifferent or hypocritical?”, she asked.
I then had to make a very important, strategic decision. My country's image was at stake. I decided to look into her blue eyes and thereafter her silky brunette hair and said “ How in the world did you get such lovely hair?”. That did it. We spoke about her hair and that saved Malaysia’s image.