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“Malaysia Boleh” bankruptcy

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The recent statement of a Royal Malaysian armed forces guardsman, now stationed at Windsor Castle in the United Kingdom, was the biggest surprise a sovereign state could spring on itself, observes a surprised Angeline Loh.

Television coverage of our Royal Malaysian Guardsmen taking up their post at Windsor Castle, a residence of the Queen of England, was broadcast with all pomp and pride. Interviewed by the media on 30 April, the guardsman announced that he was proud to be one amongst the first group of our Royal Malay Guardsmen to serve in the guard of the Queen of England.

To the common Malaysian citizen, this is certainly an odd statement. It seems to hark back to pre-Independence and colonial government. Why should a member of the Malaysian armed forces take so much pride in serving a foreign monarch instead of our own?

With respect to the guardsman, perhaps he was better salaried, being posted overseas in a developed country and paid in British Pound Sterling by that government. Yet, if our government deems it necessary to outsource our own army personnel for the security of a foreign monarch, merely as a foreign currency earner, the level of our national pride and loyalty must be near rock bottom.

The irony of this situation is that Malaysia, a widely known receiving country for foreign labour, is now exporting its local labour instead of retaining it to lessen the need for foreign labour. In short, the Federal government is creating an artificial labour shortage. On the other hand, will Malaysia, in the near future reciprocate the generosity of the English monarchy and take on military personnel from the UK and give them better pay than they get in Britian? I think that’s unlikely.

Has the clarion call of “Malaysia Boleh” led us to this bankruptcy in national pride? We have gone back to becoming dependants of our ex-colonial master. It makes one wonder whether we had ever achieved “merdeka” in August 1957 or if all that ceremony and hype then made any difference to the system we have lived under for half a century.

Despite the slight difference in our constitutional set up, we could be back in the ‘bad old’ days of being a British colony. Even the laws haven’t changed. There appears to be a constant state of emergency in the country where fundamental freedoms and human rights must be curtailed or restricted.

As the colonial authorities did not trust the inhabitants of their colonies, so the BN government does not trust Malaysians and needs to keep a near authoritarian watch on the populace. But the tradition of ‘milking the colony’ appears to have continued with the forces of capitalism and privatisation fully unleashed on the citizenry.

The deception of “Malaysia Boleh” has doped us wholesale since it was invented by Dr. M. There was a huge “WOW” shouted out by the mainstream media when we sent up our first satellite for TV reception into space. BUT it was not sent up anywhere in our country, it was sent up by some French experts from a remote location in one of the French dependencies. Was that our work? Malaysia only paid for it with taxpayers’ contributions.

Then the cry of “Malaysia Boleh” again reverberated when we paid to send an astronaut into space on someone else’s space programme. The Russians no doubt were glad to be the recipients of our taxpayers’ contributions, this time.

Who built the Petronas Twin Towers? Migrant labour.

Who were the initial manufacturers of the Proton Saga, our Malaysian car? The Japanese carmaker, Mitsubishi.

Who built the Penang Bridge? The Koreans.

Regrettably, we cannot claim all the credit for these and other prestige projects that we are so proud to call our own; they were never entirely constructed by our own efforts. Foreign labour, from the expert to the construction worker, made these possible; our leaders paid them to do so with our tax contributions.

The illusion of Malaysia Boleh has not made us evolve as a nation by acquiring better skills or creative abilities to be independent and contribute anything original and genuinely Malaysian to our country and the world. It has made us perpetual apprentices and virtual parasites on the fame and achievements of other countries. Not to mention the amount of foreign labour and expertise to make our government’s ‘dreams’ come true.

The apparent low-esteem and lack of national pride in ourselves as Malaysians should not come as a surprise. Still, we have more often lived in haughty illusions of being a renowned country – but renowned for the wrong reasons. Being a wealthier developing country widely known for its maltreatment of foreign nationals and preservation of repressive and draconian legislation is nothing to be proud of. It is the glorification of idiocy.

Malaysia Boleh” has given us metaphorical “buffalo pride” as the Malay proverb goes, “Lembu punya susu, sapi punya nama.


The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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