For the past four weeks, I have been in Singapore, interning in a law firm. It officially ended last Friday and of course, my intern mates and I headed out for a celebratory dinner. At the end, we all parted ways according to our various modes of transport (cab, MRT, etc).

Walking along Boat Quay with three friends, I admired the lights and the river and the streets. I turned to my friends and asked, “Do y’all love your country?” The answers were:

Friend A: *Pause* No. I mean, yeah… yeah.

Friend B: It’s OK.

Friend C: Not really. It’s a good place to live in but – the moment it’s not, my loyalty will be somewhere else.

Then they asked me back, and my answer was the complete opposite. It made me think of how I felt about Malaysia and what prompted my immediate, passionate, unflinching answer.

On the MRT ride back, I was trying to remember all these thoughts so that I could write them down, which is the way I express myself the best. I felt like what I was thinking was something important, that I had to put into words, to remember, to keep, to share. Perhaps these thoughts were naïve or simple or foolish. But I had to tell them, whether or not anyone listened or read.

Despite the dissatisfaction and racism and injustice that occur in our country, we love it nonetheless. Although the arguments and issues that are focused on are petty and insignificant, we love it nonetheless. And that’s true love, isn’t it?

Even if Malaysia lets us down, even if it disappoints us, even if it falls short of everything it could possibly be, we still love it. Because what makes Malaysia is its people – not its leaders, not its policies.

Having lived and worked in the UK for the past two years and after working in Singapore, I’ve realised that Malaysians are different.

As my friend pointed out in our conversation, “Malaysians have more of an identity than us.” It’s true. We’re unique. We’re special. There is something distinct in the word, “Malaysian-ness”. It means something. It means friendliness, warmth, passion. We are supportive and we are united. No matter where Malaysians roam, no matter how far they are from home, that Malaysian-ness doesn’t go away.

I remember saying before I left, “You can take the girl out of Klang, but you can’t take Klang out of the girl.” Replace Klang with Malaysia, and that’s equally true.

So as Malaysia turns another year older, I ponder on my home country and my fellow citizens, and think of the many examples where we’ve shown our love for our homeland.

We are always so passionate for our country. We fight so hard for it. We care deeply. We love fiercely. When things go wrong, when things go right. We get mad. We get sad. We get angry. We protest. We cry. We rejoice. We laugh. We smile. We celebrate. Together. We do all of this together.

21 years on as a proud citizen, I choose to say that Malaysia has not failed me. The leaders have. The system has.

But Malaysia, which is its people, has not failed me.

It has given me much. It is a big part of who I am. And that is why I love my country. I love you, Malaysia. I absolutely love you. Selamat Hari Merdeka, and Happy Malaysia Day, you beautiful, beautiful land.

Amanda currently reads law at the University of Manchester. She's also a music reviewer and a part-time waitress in Manchester. Her greatest loves are literature, indie electronic music, food, travelling...

8 replies on “Malaysia Has Not Failed Me”

  1. Good post! Ignore the cynics… too long in the haze. Your last paragraph resonated with me. Malaysia drives me crazy, but I absolutely love her, warts and all. Wear your Malaysian goupie badge with pride, I say! Happy Malaysia Day!

  2. This seems to me it is written to make yourself feel better. Why do stints in UK and Spore if Msia had not failed you. Just work straightaway in KL. Msia has failed us. Which is why there is a sad brain drain out to places like Spore. I am such a one. A bumiputra no less, working in Spore. Sad.

  3. Stop living in a dream Miss. Malaysia is just a bunch of lines on map. Good people and bad people can be found in every part of this world. Think realistically for a minute, were you to have been born in Singapore or UK, you wouldn't have wasted 30 minutes of your life writing this essentially pointless and mind-numbingly boring "article".

  4. I agree with the author's assertion that you can separate a people from their country and judge them as distinct entities. However, I question how the conclusion "Malaysia, which is its people, has not failed me" was drawn.
    In particular, I'd like to know why such a vague yardstick ("Malaysian-ness") was chosen to assess success or failure of the people. If one does not feel one or more of those listed emotions, does it make them failures as Malaysians?

  5. The country, Malaysia, did/does not failed us. It's us, as the occupants of this land, who has failed her. All of US!

    It's the rural votes that kept BN /umno in power.

    It's also the siege mentality cultivated by the successive BTN boot camps + perhaps, the trace of fear of unknown, which everyone processed intrinsically, for the race, that forced their hand to choose the evil they claimed to know best!

    Many look for near-sighted comforts due to their religious/environmental influences. Some exploit the situation to make personal gain, & in the persuade of further opulent, strengthen the current imbalance so as to prolong the timeline of piracy on some spurious just ground. Others has limited stomach for drastic changes, thinking that progress COULD be achieved via peaceful means.

    So for Malaysia to progress to the next level, how do we 'force match' these group of people out of their self-contained comfort zone, despite their dilapidated sopo surroundings?

    What would be the final outcome, as it would be easy to predict the hard resistance for change initially.

    But change we MUST. Otherwise we would be irrelevant in the scheme of nationhood progress, for we would be stacked at the sopo-economical bottom. & then the cry of sufferance would only be a figure in the world statistic of failed nationhood.

    Meanwhile all over the history there is clear indications that true progress CAN only arise like phoenix – self destruct then a new reborn. Self-destruct is painfully necessary so that a new possibility could arise. & it MUST be a fuuly completed creative-destructive process.

    Granted that new possibility could turn out to be equally hateful & difficult – just like the current flame of Arab Spring as many would attested to. But, in deeper analysis, one would come to the conclusion that the current aftermaths of the Arab Spring is bcoz the self-destruction is incomplete, with many lingering old traces, taking advantages of the new situation to clench for power & forcing old ideology down the throats of the opponents!

    I also apologise in advance if this rant is unstructured/incoherent. A mere littering of my thoughts.

  6. I imagine from a cultural consciousness perspective, we both have very similar outlooks. I too have spent all of my adult life living and working in an WASP dominated culture (Australia). It seems to me that arguments such as the one you have made are a dime a dozen but no one has really explained what it means to "love" a nation.

    You seem to make the argument that what you truly love is "the people" as alluded to in this line, "But Malaysia, which is its people, has not failed me."

    At risk of broad brush sweeps, is it not the people who for 50 years (1957-2007) returned majority UMNO-BN governments? Despite the corrosive impact that was having on not only the soul and character of the nation but their actions in fundamentally undermining society? Is it not a failure on the populace that they failed to show moral rectitude for so long and allowed themselves to be played for mugs?

    When society itself creates an environment where racists, bigots, misogynists and h8ers (pardon the urbanism) not only survive but flourish with electoral support and wide ranging popularity, surely its not a long bow to draw to say that the very society you profess to love has failed you?

    Far be it from me to suggest that I do not care, I do. However do I care more than I care about the poor and downtrodden in other parts of the world? I don't know. My perspective is that the society I came from was a limitation on my ability to think clearly and consider matters at a level beyond the domestic rancour. Cut out for a career in politics I am not!

    I am not saying we should give up, wash our hands and walk away. We do however need to be realistic and not view the past or the present behind some rose tinted glasses. We need to accept a bit of nihilism so that at the very least we don't get emotionally invested to the extent that we lose perspective on the reality surrounding us.

    I apologise in advance if this rant is unstructured/incoherent. A mere littering of my thoughts.

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