Who we are, is what we want to be.
When bombarded by questions such as ‘what do you plan to do?’ or ‘where do you see yourself in 10 years time?’ on a daily basis, one has to consider two questions very carefully.
Question 1: Who am I?
Question 2: What do I want to be?
Being someone born in Malaysia, these questions impose one-too-many thoughts to my mind, far more than necessary. And I believe the case is such for many other young Malaysians out there. An interesting situation I personally observed was when an alumni of 10 came home and visited our college in the midst of studying overseas in prestigious universities. During the Q&A session, a man went to the microphone and posed the question: How many of you plan to return to Malaysia?
Shifting glances followed, the floor seemingly more attractive to them in a sudden. Nonetheless, quite a number, perhaps 7 or 8 raised their hands. This man went on: How many of you would like to serve our country?
Perplexed reactions in its more purest form was exhibited in everyone’s face, sardonic grins lazing on the more courageous, amused by such a thought. I couldn’t quite remember what followed, but a girl, reading Philosophy and Economics in Oxford quipped that she didn’t think there was workspace in Malaysia for Philosophy graduates. Albeit, for someone who’s eventually going to come out as an Oxford graduate, she didn’t think Malaysia will ever need her, as a Philosophy and Economics graduate, as much as other countries would.
Why should we stay here anyways? ‘Tis not as if we belong here.
Lots of people, me included, felt as if the country never needed us. Half of us dream of days when we finally escape the clutches of ludicrous norms and conventions that are etched in our legal system. The few leverages the country has held for these many years have been family, food, culture and the eccentricities of being Malaysian.
Perhaps when a man is older, there could be a few other things added to the list such as lower and gullible taxes, cheaper cost of living and not being able to tolerate some factor or the other overseas. Here, I’d like to underline the fact that many, as Malaysians, have never felt like part of the country, but a prosthetic extension, lodged and due to leave at any moment.
Our journeys start from school, where as students in public schools, we’re kept as far away from anything remotely political, threatened with suspension if we dared open our mouths or show our faces supporting a particular (or rather, the Other) political party. The little we’re taught in politics, involves persevering through long hours of History classes, where we’re sped through a syllabus held out of importance because it is another subject to grace our PMR and SPM slips with an ‘A’ or ‘A+’. Even if one tried to look in the textbook for concrete and substantial knowledge in History, there would be nothing of great importance there. Everything (or so it seemed) was ‘perfected’ by the great politicians of the past and is being continued. In a nutshell, we have a strong political structure and as long as things are going the way they are, there’s little (or nothing) to worry about.
The fact is, one sloughs through their school life with little to no involvement in politics. We’re numb to it, the ‘tidak apa tidak kisah’ attitude ingrained deep into our heads, figuring that someone else will clear this mess someday or if all fails, there’s always another country to run off to. 4 years after leaving secondary school, we are considered adult enough to vote, finally given the long-standing power to choose our future leader. One is expected to jump from a lifetime of passive involvement to an active participant in our country’s governance within a short span.
Reality check: Not many bother making the jump
Perhaps some could make the jump, but for those who spend hours and hours involved in everything but politics and the law, there is no logic when things on the outside aren’t as fine as the mainstream news claim them to be – especially when one breaks free from their nest and finds the grass on the other side greener, both welcoming and appreciating them while things at home feels too confusing, too troubled and too magnified in their undefined states. The entire country is cast in a grey form of morbidity, exuding the aura of something far too much a goner … well, you get the idea.
The concerned parent or friend at this point would offer his or her own words of wisdom: ‘You could always come home for a holiday’.
And hence, they answer the aforementioned questions, in haste and ignorance.
Clearly there’re no wrong answers, but some answers could be better than others. If one expects another to make the better choice of the many, then he or she needs to be included and educated about the system, in a most open manner. The fear of the unknown that grips the nation is far more terrifying and lethal than any mess we’ve faced with and are facing. To liberate ourselves from this fear, one requires transparency and knowledge, the freedom to speak out and be heard, and eventually to feel accepted by this system.
#IdolaDemokrasi allows many an insight to the crises our country is facing. Within the GameShop, the stark fact that there’s work to be done, things to be said, matters to be broached and most importantly, a country to be governed, gives one a sense of being gung-ho, reminding us that we are not just people who are children of taxpayers … we are Malaysians, and we can be responsible for what is about to happen in this country, whether good or otherwise.
The message is trickling out slowly, methodically and in a restricted manner, both a good thing and a bad. I’d say screw the idea of governing a nation being only the job of a lawyer and politician but open the doors to people of every field, from the fiesty farmers to the cold-blooded medical students. If we expect democracy, we need to speak – every one of us despite our varying degrees of understanding regarding the more technical side of things. We’ve had our tongues tied for too long, our brains wired to avoid ‘sensitive issues’ and our ears tired of contradictory news.
UndiMsia! and many underground NGO’s are playing their part, but now that most of us (at least I’m supposing, most that end up reading this) do have that insight, search for more, share, unite, think and act. For those who don’t quite get it, try saving yourself a spot at this GameShop.
Albeit being (finally!) faced with all the screw-ups a country could offer, this less-than-perfect picture of a place feels more like home at long last. There’s work to be done and this country needs its people back, every one of them intellectuals who presume they are better off in other places.
I daren’t speak for all but nothing beats home, when it comes to belonging and being the best you can be. And Malaysia is home, no?
Find your answers.