Monday, October 6, 2008

Malaysia: Sick Society?

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…” 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.


Anonymous said...

mr j,

i agree with the nz woman 101%

moon to moon, bulan to bulan

Anonymous said...


Callling us hypocritical is just too much dont you think?

Anonymous said...

mr j,

but we are..


Anonymous said...

In any situation, there is always 2 sides of the coin. Just to bad that this NZ woman was looking at THAT ONE SIDE OF THE COIN ! (or maybe it was intended by her). Wonder which Malaysians did she talk to !

If corrupted but a good leader....must have talk with that politician cronies !

The last time we 're-inforced' with our 'malaysia boleh' you guys n gals (NZ woman n geng) said we have gone 'crazy' with our 'bolehinism' becoz we were really 'bolehing'.

NZ woman....if u "F" us of coz we will "F" u back (free country ma...democracy ma..) but it's our nature, we do it with a smiling face !

Anonymous said...

jon pour do care,

welcome back ! we were missing you thoughts!

Anonymous said...


Its very pathetic. Amat menyedihkan. But this is our country. Will it ever change? There is a cost to this. Those who behave in this manner will remain backward - terkebelakang. Those who do not behave in this manner - and there are many of them too - will move ahead very far in life. So the jurang perbezaan will remain, it will even increase. Then the terkebelakang will get even more pissed. And it goes on from there.

Anonymous said...


you are right, life is a vicious circle of bitchyness, till death.

hand of god

lady lavender said...

Hi, I live in NZ...NZ is no different to Malaysia in many ways. There is a level of hypocrisy here too...Perhaps there is less greed in NZ, and people care more for the environment and the public toilets here are cleaner!

I think it is not rather than Malaysians are hypocrites but that Malaysians value self-preservation...many Malaysians are migrants who came for a better life -- not to uphold political ideologies.

Malaysia has got a lot going -- if it can transcend petty racial territories and live like "one people".

Anonymous said...

lady lavender,

Thank you for your comments. I suppose you are right. Hypocrisy is not the monopoly of any one group. It is a 'potential' human trait, depending on whether the person wants to adopt it as part of his characteristic or not. I do hope Malaysians are able to see it as you do - that there is a lot going on for it. I have always believed that once we learn and deeply acknowledge that we are all human beings, we can begin to learn that there is more than enough space for all of us to live together in harmony with nature.

Look forward to your future comments.

Anonymous said...

for malaysians

# 1 If time doesn't wait for you, don't worry. Just remove the damn battery from the clock and enjoy life!

# 2 Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is like expecting the lion not to attack you because you are a vegetarian. Think about it ....!!

# 3 Beauty isn't measured by outer appearance and what clothes we wear, but what we are inside. So, try going out without clothes tomorrow and see the admiration!

# 4 Don't walk as if you rule the world. Walk as if you don't care who rules the world ! That's called attitude! Keep on rocking!

# 5 Only one percent of boys have brains; the rest have girlfriends! Are you the brainy one?

# 6 All desirable things in life are either illegal, banned, expensive or married to someone else!

mr j on a lighter note,


Anonymous said...

Malaysians are indeed hypocrites! But so are Nzlanders, Americans, Brits, Israelis, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Singaporeans, Indians, Australians, Mexican, Spanish, Italians …I am sure you get the picture by now. Hypocrisy exists everywhere. It is a human trait and has nothing to do with the climate that you experience nor the language you speak. The Westerners say that they are against all forms of discrimination, but yet they endorse positive discrimination… The official tagline of the Brits are “We are against all forms of discriminations, and we provide equal opportunities to all…”, and yet when you walk down Oxford Street past midnight looking the way I do, cries of “You f****ng Indian”, is certainly not unheard of..

The concept of “Masyarakat Penyayang” was not introduced to imply that we are a loving-society…but rather a way to create awareness amongst ourselves with the aim of inculcating lovingness from deep within. Whether or not it is successful, that is a different question altogether.

Anonymous said...


You wrote: "The concept of “Masyarakat Penyayang” was not introduced to imply that we are a loving-society…but rather a way to create awareness amongst ourselves with the aim of inculcating lovingness from deep within. Whether or not it is successful, that is a different question altogether".

It boils down hat Micheal Jackson sang then "Look at the Man in the Mirror.