Tired of ‘1Malaysia’?

…you clearly have a problem.

I was out with a friend of mine the other day.

We first went to see his teacher/doctor/physical therapist who has an office down the road from my place. He is a doctor practicing traditional Chinese therapy and is also a martial arts instructor. I sat and watched the treatment, after which we were given moon cake!

Treating Some Back Pain

We then drove to get something to eat and passed by this fantastic billboard

Satu Malaysia Paints?

All ethnicities are represented… but I don’t know what the white boy represents. Expats?

At night, after passing through Chow Kit, we were fortunate enough (can you hear my sarcasm?) to see the UMNO tower:

Look how much money we can spend on the LED screens on each side of this tower! A tower belonging to our dearest UMNO!

With all of the heated debate surrounding the latest 1Malaysia t-shirts, I thought that it would be appropriate to talk about this philosophy. We all know that it is a contrived sentiment on behalf of the government and that it is a real and organic phenomenon on the streets. My friend calls his doctor “Uncle” because he values the lessons and the relationship that he has with this man. People generally don’t let race affect the kinds of interpersonal relationships that they have with other people. It’s the idiotic billboard, the flags with a 1Malaysia logo stamped on it, newspaper articles blindly supporting these policies, and all of the other government propaganda that makes this real phenomenon look fake.

My friend said, “If you have to create propaganda to tell all of us to be diverse, you clearly have a problem.”

And they clearly do!

You pass through Chow Kit, and whether or not you interact with people, you see certain elements of their life and you become witness to certain things that you wish did not occur. And then you turn the corner and you see the UMNO tower displaying “white people jumping into the water.” Not that I have anything against orang putih but I think that it is a perfect commentary on just how much the government has distanced itself from the ground. People are not their main concern, image is (and definitely that of Rosmah).

But again, that’s nothing new.

So what do we do? While Najib hands out 1Malaysia t-shirts for completing some ridiculous questionnaire, people are living on the streets. We should be participating more in civic society and social movements. Working with LoyarBurok, UndiMsia (totally making a plug here), and volunteering for a local “soup kitchen” (contact Michael Loo), are all relatively easy things to do. And our contributions really do make a difference.

We should also be more “politically active.” I understand that political activism is not for everyone but voting is. Voting is a very low risk and low level of political participation and if you can, you should register to vote and follow through on your promise by going to vote (whenever that may be)! We all have some vested interest in how our country turns out, whether or not we want to.

So besides planning some sort of a military coup, or hiring an assassin, let’s do these little things in the meantime.


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Annah Kim is a Korean adoptee from the United States. She received funding from her university to come to Kuala Lumpur to conduct independent research. Her research project focused on the reaction of citizens to censorship of the media. She’s also been involved in the political scene while in Kuala Lumpur. Back in the States, she’s pursuing a degree in the fluffy disciplines of International Relations and French. In 5-10 years, she sees herself living in a box, paying back student loans.

Posted on 28 August 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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5 Responses to Tired of ‘1Malaysia’?

  1. complete_nutrition

    Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin to all Muslims

  2. Sabahan

    for me, it's nothing wrong with the slogans. after all, they're trying to do something good here. uniting people with 1malaysia, is it wrong?
    not everything the government do must be rejected. the way of thinking that only our programs/ideas are good for the people instead of trying to work together with all parties including the government is the sort of things that i categorized as pet peeve.
    stop being big headed lauding own's work, just try to work things out together. i'm just tired of all the politickings of everything.

    • Kai

      Indeed there is nothing wrong with the slogan. But don't forget that's only the 'form'.

      We are questioning the substance. Why there is still 'race' column on forms? Why 'Malay first Malaysian second'(we all know who said this)?

  3. Annah Kim

    And we should continue to make noise about the electoral system – because of late, it seems that not everyone is so easily conned-

  4. charlie chan

    voters n malaysians are conned n fooled by 1 malaysia, con. we have millions of illegals on our land. how did millions walk in so easily. are malaysians not conned n be so naive/