A Malaysian Spring? Not!
|Zan Azlee is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, New Media practitioner and lecturer. He runs Fat Bidin Media www.fatbidin.com|
JUNE 1 — It’s annoying to me when I meet people who say that we should be thankful to be living in a country like Malaysia and that there are so many countries worse off than us.
“Look at Somalia. They’re all hungry there.”
“Do you want us to be like Syria where people are being killed?”
“Thank god we aren’t Palestine!”
“The poor in India live a terrible life!”
“Look at the poor Iraqis and Afghans!”
“At least we’re not in a situation like the Malays in Southern Thailand!”
I don’t deny that Malaysia isn’t a bad country and I do have a very decent quality of life. I have work and can provide for my family. My family and I are very happy and there is no doubt it is because we’re living in Malaysia, and I am definitely thankful for that.
But that does not mean we do not need to improve. And to improve, we need to have a benchmark.
When I was in primary school, I was always Number Two in class after every exam. Ryan Tan Tsu Kit was always Number One. I knew I was better, exam-wise, than the other 30 students in my class but I also knew that Ryan was better than me! And I had to find out how I could beat him.
Of course, there was no hostility between us. Ryan was my best friend at that time and our parents would drive us to each other’s houses to play during the weekends. But I knew, for the sake of improvement, I needed to compare myself with Ryan and see what my weaknesses were. There was simply no point comparing myself with the others.
That’s called benchmarking and trying to improve yourself. And it definitely does not mean that I wasn’t happy and thankful that I was better than the other 30 students. (And when I say “better” than the others, I’m only basing it on exam marks. I don’t mean I’m a better human being than them... so don’t start!)
That is why it annoys me when I hear people saying that the rakyat who participated in Bersih 3.0 (or previous Bersih rallies) need to stop as they are disrupting lives. These are the people who say that the Bersih participants are causing havoc in a peaceful country like Malaysia and that we need to be thankful for what we have.
Yes. Malaysia isn’t as bad as Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. And because of that Bersih 3.0 has very few, if any, similarities with the Arab Spring. But there are lots that need to be improved in Malaysia. Having a clean and fair electoral process is one. Corruption on a high level is another. I can state more.
Our country is good, but not perfect. And there is nothing wrong with trying to improve and be better. Don’t just remain at the status quo. What is wrong with looking at all the countries that are better off than us, and then trying to see how we can be like them, or even better?
As a rakyat of Malaysia, I constantly want the country to improve. I want it to be a better place for myself, but most of all, I want it to be a better place for my daughter. So I will definitely support any member of the Malaysian rakyat who is striving for change and betterment of the country.
Many of the critics like to say that street rallies are not part of Malaysian culture. And I have to agree and say that they are definitely right. It really takes a lot to actually make Malaysians want to take to the streets. So doesn’t it say something when tens of thousands gather in the middle of KL at the same time?
So why compare ourselves with countries that are worse off just so we can feel good about ourselves? Look above and ahead. Actually, the point isn’t even about being better than any other country. To me, it is really about wanting to be better than ourselves. I love Malaysia and because of this, I feel I owe it to the country to make it better.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.