I am a young Malaysian woman currently studying for my undergraduate degree in the US. I have come down for the holidays to celebrate Christmas and New Year's with family and friends, and to get reacquainted with Malaysian food. Oh, I have missed the delicious kuih-muih and various delights that make this country a culinary paradise! And the food has not disappointed. But the politics of this country has.
Words cannot adequately describe my horror and dismay at reading of the recently passed amendments to the Islamic Family Law as well as the shameful way army commander and national hero M. Moorthy's family was treated.
It was not two years since I left. Abdullah Ahamd Badawi was still a fresh PM and many of us believed that he would take the country forward and put into practice his repeated assurances of a liberal, transparent, and fair-minded government and public sector. Pak Lah, what has happened? Not just does it seem that all your promises were for nothing, but also, coming back, I find that my country in some very important ways has regressed.
2020 comes up in 14 years; we are not moving in the right direction towards achieving a developed nation status. Being developed is not just about efficient public transportation (though that would be nice) and sophisticated infrastructure. It is not about health and education. These are basic rights that should already be in place.
It is certainly not about ensuring that well-off KLites are kept fat and happy. If our women and non-Muslim citizens continue to be treated like pariahs, then we may as well give up. Developed nation status is not for us. Let's get the United Nations to administer us; we are obviously a nation in turmoil. Even our courts turn a blind eye to the sufferings of its citizens!
Malaysia is a country of many strengths and much beauty. We are quite unique in our pluralism. We are blessed in natural and human resources. Yet our politicians are ruining our country and we, the rakyat, are sitting back and letting them do so. We can continue to listen to our politicians' empty promises. We can continue to be grateful for what small mercies and respites they allow us.
But unless we say 'Enough!' and unless we demand more and refuse to take less, then Malaysia will lose all that is best about it. Those citizens it treats as pariahs will leave, finally too frustrated to do much more.
See, the kuih-muih only goes so far. I would rather miss my hawker and mamak food than my human rights. Let it be known, however, that should I and others leave this country, we do so reluctantly.