In her response to Amanda Hoi’s love letter to Malaysia, Cass Shan talks about the ways Malaysia has failed her — and us.
In response to Amanda Hoi’s article on how Malaysia has not failed her, I beg to differ.
As Amanda quoted, “I choose to say that Malaysia has not failed me. The leaders have. The system has”.
The fact that its leadership has implemented laws that are against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights itself shows that the country has, technically, failed us – and or at least it has failed me.
I was born a Chindian but was refused the right to identify my Chinese roots due to the country’s rule of paternity back then.Even now, mixed-race children have to pick one race over the other for use in identification cards. Essentially, my country failed to recognise my heritage from the moment I was born.
Then, the education system failed me. Rote learning was the way to go and I watched with glazed eyes as students good at memorizing went on to win recognition and scholarships. The private sector rescued me where the local education system failed me, providing me with a scholarship to pursue a course of my choice.
The overwhelming requirements for degrees and academic qualifications failed me and people I knew. Before the quality of local degree holders made national headlines, I watched as lesser candidates scored jobs while people I cared for, with obvious greater skill and talent, were denied employment – simply for not being able to afford tertiary education.
The unhealthy admiration for our exaggerated As affected me again when I taught at a local language centre and was forced to break the news to students that their level of English was unbefitting of their earned As. I toiled over their standards to bring them up to mark as the local education system had varnished the truth with reducing standards for As.
The quality of graduates, local or overseas regardless, disappointed me once again when I was tasked with training an executive in my role as a manager. Armed with a degree, fresh graduates lack simple basic communicative skills in the written word. I cringed as the executives struggled to finish simple assignments, watching them being forced to redo their work on countless occasions before having to step in and do it myself to save time.
The over-protectionism employed by state economic strategies meant I had to pay more for an over -valued local car. I was denied the chance of owning a higher quality imported car due to excessive taxes charged. The Malaysian government admits to earning billions from automobile taxes.
Malaysia then goes on to deny me the opportunity for free education – in part due to the ruling party’s machinery. While we advocate and champion an era of knowledge, Malaysians at the top refuse to grant the rest the vehicle that will drive us towards this vision.
The fact that the country is rich in natural resources is only mentioned in school textbooks, but we have citizens never quite understanding the meaning of this as the price of oil recently hiked – again.
Our voting rights were trampled on as ‘phantom voters’ emerged in droves and mysterious ballot boxes had starring roles at the last election. The police was allegedly complicit. Where is my right to determine the future and governance of this country? I voted – and so did 50.87% of the population – but who cares? The minority still dictates.
In a technical sense of the word: Malaysia has failed me.
What has kept me going, though, is that the Spirit of Malaysia has not let me down.
The Spirit of Malaysia which existed since our founding fathers lay down the rule, as reported by the Reid Commission, that Tunku Abdul Rahman and the Malay Rulers had asked that “in an independent Malaya all nationals should be accorded equal rights, privileges and opportunities and there must not be discrimination on grounds of race and creed.”
The Spirit of Malaysia echoed through the people when they volunteered to be PACABA and joined arms in unity to prevent those mysterious ballot boxes from coming into the counting centre during the 2013 elections.
It is this spirit that has awakened among the mostly urban Malays who opted for needs-based policy rather than race-based policy, despite being the most to gain from the latter.
It is the same breath of fire which sent Malaysians to the streets and to social media in protest – unafraid of the national status quo.
The Malaysian spirit never left us, for even those who left the country for better opportunities overseas came back to make their voices heard and cast their vote.
Malaysians and their inner fire shout out loud in cyberspace on various comments sections and opinion pieces, declaring their love for our country and their demand for justice – demonstrating just how much Malaysian policies have hurt us but won’t stop us from fighting for a better Malaysia. We feel the pain of bad governance, but we will strive to give our best for our country.
Malaysia, in all technicality, has failed me. But Malaysians will rise and give birth to a better Malaysia away from the manipulative hands of the corrupt.
They may take our bodies, but they cannot take our soul!
Featured image by Eric Teoh on flickr.