We celebrate 51 years of independence today. 50 years ago on this very day, our Father of Independence, Tunku Abdul Rahman proclaimed the words Merdeka! (Independence) and we have been celebrating the day each year with enthusiasm ever since. However, this post is not about the history of our independence (because it's too heavy and I need to do some studying to get the facts right) but instead it's about the things that make Malaysians, well Malaysians as observed from my point of view :)
1. The excessive usage of the suffix 'lah'
When you speak to Malaysians, be prepared to hear 'lah' at the end of every possible sentence. "it's far away, lah..."they will say. I'm not exactly sure how this suffix got into our sentences but it surely has made it's presence felt in spoken language be it Malay, English, Tamil or Mandarin.
The most amazing thing about being in Malaysia is the wonderful array of food you have in front of you thanks to the diverse cultures that exist here, and the best part of all is food is available 24 hours. Hungry at 3 a.m? No worries... just head on down to the local 'mamak' (Indian muslim stall) Another thing is, if you visit a Malaysian home, they will definitely ask you if you have eaten, and even if you insist that you are filled to the brim thanks to the large helping of Western food you just had with your friends, they will insist that you have something... maybe some Milo or iced tea?
3. Terrible road users
All Malaysians know that almost every other Malaysian has the capability of being a monster on the road. They have no patience, and will purposely move faster on the main road so that you will be stuck at the side with your signal light blinking when you want to turn. Here is also where gargantuan lorries will bully small 850 cc cars into submission, and where the 850 cc cars will squeeze into 2 lane roads to make the illegal 3rd lane!
4. Fire crackers
It's funny how fire crackers are actually banned and yet at the stroke of midnight of any festival, you will hear people ushering in the festival with those noisy fire crackers... makes you think how they got hold of it in the first place.
5. The elders
Most children here will call any older person aunty or uncle even if the person is a complete stranger. (This is quite age dependent - if their age gap is not that wide, then the older person may be referred to as big bro/sis) Personally I think it's polite and quite sweet, but can get quite annoying.
6. Moronic censorship
Only in Malaysia you will find scenes brutally snipped off movies despite the fact that the movie has been labelled 18+. Even tv shows are not spared, but when people are shouting "Assxxxx" and you can see their lips form the word, even with the word bleeped, you know what they're saying!
Strange mannerisms aside, the recent situation seems to have taken a turn for the worst. One would think that after fighting alongside in the past, small differences do not matter. Nevertheless, the division among the people seems to be getting larger due to some some people being petty and incredibly stupid that it's beyond comprehension! I'm sure when they fought for independence over 50 years ago, none of our fore-fathers would have imagined the scenario as it today. I bet they're turning over in their graves as we speak.
Independence can also be transalated into freedom, but the most recent 'banning' of an alternative news website has saddened me immensely. What does it show us? Where will it lead us?
There is no gusto in the celebrations this time around. I have not heard any Merdeka songs on the tv or even on the radio (I know I don't watch much tv or listen to the radio that often either, but still!) Neither do I see flags being hung outside commercial buildings or houses.
I really do hope that there are better times ahead!
Note: I realised that the beginning and the ending part of this post seems to have moved across a hidden gap in terms of mood. Truthfully, it has. I actually drafted the beginning part of the post last year, but towards the day itself, something of this sort cropped up, and I made it into a draft. I imagined things would be better this year, but apparently it isn't so!