Monday, July 4, 2011

The Malaysian Dilemma

Malaysia is among the few countries in the world where different cultures can coexist along well with its long history since the founding days of Malaysia. A country I called home in 1989. Those were the days when the economic progress of Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore were still at par with us.

Jimmy Choo's shoes which were once slipped on the heels of queens and celebrities. Michelle Yeoh who proves that Asians and not only Malaysians can shine on the entertainment world. The mighty football team of Malaysia that once shook the ground of stadiums and strikes fear to the very heart of Korean footballers.

Where are all this now? Malaysia day by day bleeds great talents to abroad. Instead of looking forward and reverse the brain drain, we left it alone. The exodus of highly talented Malaysian - The Malaysian Dilemma.

Talent? It comes from ancient times where "talent" was a measurement for mass of precious metals in a huge casing. A gold "talent" (a quantity, a measurement) can feed an entire family all their lifetime and with plenty more left. This was how much it worth.

Unfortunately, talent in terms of ability cannot be quantified. Malaysia had lost over 1 million (Source: World Bank) highly educated citizens in a country with less than 28 million. Talented engineers, scientists, doctors and inventors. All gone.

"Malaysia’s brain drain... One out of ten Malaysians with a tertiary degree migrated in 2000 to an OECD country—this is twice the world average and including Singapore would make this two out of ten..."

(Source : Page 12 of World Bank Report - Malaysia Economic Monitor)

The crux is that something is going wrong somewhere. Malaysia these day is more engrossed in politics and scandals than getting the work done. Some are fighting to maintain the status quo of natives even when they are already constitute the majority. Lets not even talk about what a true Malaysian is really about. A Malaysian of Indian ethnicity, Chinese ethnicity born and breed in the same country - are they less Malaysian than a Malaysian of Malay ethnicity? Bidayuh? or a former Indonesian citizen that coverts to a Malay Malaysian?

The problem is still on our own divisive economic policy and special rights that bring discontentment because they are not based on meritocracy. In this article, I will write as fair as possible but sometimes fairness cannot always be deemed fair because "fair" is a perceptions and perceptions may differ from one another.

"Rights? What rights? Do you mean right or wrong?"

There is no point fighting for rights. Everyone is equal. I have a pair of eyes (double eyelids for your info), 2 legs, 2 arms and I need air to breath. Everyone has that but what differentiates me and you? Well, if you are a woman and I am a man, then I guess you'll know what is the difference. At the very end, I have 6 packs and maybe good looking (Ahem), I think there are the small little things that differentiate me and other men. :) Just kidding.

Humans need air to breath, a shelter, water and food to survive. There is no such thing as special advantages to a certain group of people. A particular advantage given directly is like a crutch. A person addicted to using crutch will continue to use it and never learn to walk unless it is taken away. Special economic preferences for a particular group will lead to discontentment to the deprived and short term satisfaction to the selected ones.

Why short term? Malaysia is a trading nation. Country is actually very difficult to be managed, if a country that relies only on import, the country will be eventually bankrupted. In a globalized world, good quality but cheap products are preferred. Special economic preferences to certain race may leads to self satisfaction and no competitions means no innovation and pricing will still remain uncompetitive.

Then, the problem comes. Customers wanting for better goods will shun the local products and opt for better products abroad. Country loses. Economy declined. Workers will go elsewhere to find better jobs.

Protectionist policy will bring the economy to jeopardy and brings resentments among the others. This will lead to the other races in the country to be more aware of the problems among their own ethnicity and the well-to-do will place a barrier to ethnic group deemed to be given special advantages. It is as they perceive that special advantages will make a person more dependent even though it is not true. Such suspicions will bring polarization among races. The meaning of being born in this country does not matter anymore to those few.

Malay, Chinese, and Indians. Humans. Humans are all creatures of emotions. When something is not right, some will weather it, some will wither. Talents are the same, some can continue living with the disadvantages but in the long run, deep down, a growing dissatisfaction. There are those who lived with the special advantages but excelled without the help of it, at some point, some want to be treated as an equal and not as the one perceived of receiving special advantages.

I believe special rights and advantages were handicaps and are for the weak only in a short term. Poor people regardless of ethnicity, needy ones are the only people that should be given rights. Not the rich tycoon of an ethnic group. And neither shall there be recruitment ads with certain language proficiency needed unless the profession deals with work that requires that language ability.

"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity..."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is never a time in the world's history where the best decisions were always the easiest to be made. Slavery in the States was only abolished after a devastating civil war between the Union and Confederates. The Nuclear war would have started if not for the Soviets that compromised by withdrawing its nukes from Cuba and the United States from the Europe in 1962 (Source: Cuban Missile Crisis).

Equality is the best way to liberate everyone from suspicions, prejudice and jealousy we have on each other. When each of us are treated fairly, as time passes, we will slowly accept each other not just as friends but as brothers and sisters. With peaceful, fair and conducive environment, investments will flow in. Talented and skilled Malaysians from abroad too will one day come back.

End the special rights and start protecting the rights of the poor, needy and disabled regardless of the color of our skins. When the fight for equality is still unfinished, there's still a hope for a change. I wish one day we will call ourselves as true Malaysians. Not only a Malay, a Chinese or an Indian. Why quarrel for special rights but risk losing sleep because the economy and the people are not doing good. I wish Malaysia best.

17 June 2011

(I like to write long post and articles. I think not many people would have the time to read this all because it's too long. This post is about the true concept of nationhood and my country, Malaysia. This post might bring uneasiness to a few but I hope some people will read it with open heart. Special rights are never a must, it's only a choice. If this is removed, the barrier between races will slowly dissipates. Again like any of my personal views, I sincerely apologized if it does "hurt" anyone.)

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"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning" ~Winston Churchill~