Let No White Wo(man) Fight Our Battles

What does backpacking around Asia have to do with the upcoming Sarawak elections?


If you’re like me, a poor backpacking traveler, then you would have found yourselves exploring the ‘banana pancake’ trail. Throughout your travels, I’m certain that you would have seen the wonders of White supremacy in Bangkok’s Khao San road, or Laos’s Luang Prabang or even Vietnam’s charming Hoi An.

These places are magically transformed to welcome the influx of White students, turning them into a make-shift European settlement. The only thing that is still Asian about those places would be the fact that the receptionist managing the cheap motels are Asians.

Which brings me of course to wonder, do Asians have the same kind of magnetic pull to transform European towns the same way the Whites do? Forgive me for my ignorance, but I’m highly doubtful that any French or Spanish coastal towns have environments catering specifically to Asian backpackers.

(I’d have to shoot down your argument if you’re going to throw in Chinatowns or Little Indias around the world simply because those enclaves are made of permanent residence, not temporary tourists)

An easy argument, one may point out is by quoting economic prowess.

“Of course it happens in Asia. Do you know how valuable the Euro is?”

Perhaps that may be true but one is usually quick to judge, as when one sees a-not-so-attractive-looking bloke with an insanely beautiful woman.

“Bah, sure-lah. He’s rich.”

But is there another reason? Could it be possible that it is because the Whites have developed a higher sense of understanding and awareness? A mentality that encourages them to traverse the world, absorb cultures and be personally interested in the development of countries outside their place of birth?

A prime example would be the European Union. It is hard for me to imagine how the Germans and the British, sworn enemies barely 50 years ago,  with their language miles apart, are now apart of a border-less union.

What makes them more globally aware? Is it their open ended education system? Or perhaps their rich history as colonial masters is a contributing factor? Or maybe it is something as simple as needing a second home to escape their harsh winters?

Okay, right about now you’re probably thinking; dude, what’s your point? Well, now that Sarawak is going to the polls, I would just like to pay tribute to this particular White woman. Her name is Clare Rewcastle Brown. You may know her as the founder of Free Radio Sarawak.

I find Clare to be an extremely fascinating woman. Her selfless energy confuses me in so many ways. Why would she, of all people in the world, care about a state in a country, oceans away from where her comfortable life is?

Even Liu Xiaobo, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Note the part where it says, contribution to CHINA. Don’t get me wrong. I am not undermining Liu’s efforts. He was after all, incarcerated for his beliefs just like fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi. But you see, with them I can understand the motivation. They are fighting for the country of their birth.

Clare, however, is on a different playing field altogether. Granted, she was born in Sarawak and lived there till the age of 8, but she never returned to Sarawak until 38 years later. It would be extremely easy for her to lose herself in the comfort of her life as a Londoner and the publicity that comes with her stature as the sister in law of Gordon Brown.

And yet here she is, sacrificing time and money to operate a radio that disseminates information to the great people of Sarawak, empowering them to make change. This is not her country. What could possibly drive her to dedicate her life in fighting a cause that does not reward her materially in any way?

I don’t know and that lack of understanding transforms to admiration. Shouldn’t her story inspire us as Malaysians to get our act together? We don’t have to be as selfless as she is. There is no need to quit our day jobs or withdraw our life savings to make a change. We can do it small.

If you have a friend who is not yet a registered voter, encourage him or her. If you see something unfair happening, voice out and speak your mind. If you believe in a cause, spare a little time to show up for a gathering on it. If you see someone having car trouble, offer a little help.

This is our country after all. Let no one else fight our battles, even if their skin is a lovely shade of cream.

Vern is embarrassed that a White woman cares more about his land than he does.  He vows to cut his sleeping time by 40 minutes and use the time saved to change that. He believes the world will be a happier place if everyone listens to Damien Rice when they get soul-broken.

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Posted on 24 March 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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