Malaysia today and the Malaysia that should be

Malaysia should be about unity, with people from diverse backgrounds working together for the greater good of all.


malaysian-the-better-beer-festival-kl-1By Angeline Lesslar

As I reflect on the events that took place last week, I feel sad that after 60 years of independence, the Malaysia we have today is far from what was envisioned.

We assured our colonial masters that we could be trusted to be independent and live as one big family in peace and harmony. Have we lived up to our dream and kept our promises? I wonder.

Our week began with the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) banning the staging of a two-day beer festival based on flimsy, unfounded excuses.

This one-time exhibition of 43 worldwide breweries educating us on 250 craft beers would have been a source of good general knowledge on the sight and taste of international brews without having to travel. We would have had the world at our doorstep. Or maybe we are content to remain “katak di bawah tempurung”.

One would not have to drink the beer to be educated and exposed. Wouldn’t we as a country be walking the talk in professing to be a moderate Muslim nation by hosting such a festival here? The irony is that such festivals and many more are being staged in Palestine and Indonesia. This speaks volumes about the truth. The demonstrations after Friday prayers in town also demonstrated how shallow and narrow-minded we really are. Actions speak louder than words. Where is our self-control?

The week continued with a public laundry not accepting clothes from non-Muslims, and the Sekinchan hotel and restaurant not allowing Chinese patrons to dine there. To top off everything, we had a self-appointed vigilante in Flora Damansara issuing warnings and deadlines prohibiting a laundry list of issues.

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Why are we professing to be “holier than thou” when as someone pointed out, our backyards, as shown in the statistics of Kelantan, are dirty? Don’t we need to clean up our act before we can point fingers at anyone else? Where is the love, harmony, friendship and tolerance in our actions?

I did find some light at the end of the tunnel in a one-day seminar between Lutherans and Catholics in dialogue on Friday. This was attended by over 200 Christians trying to understand each other’s beliefs better and, in the process, build bridges. Maybe baby steps, but in the right direction.

At Sunday mass, my hope was further restored as we celebrated Migrant Sunday. It was so beautiful to see the congregation in their national dress, and witness the participation of Africans, Indians, Myanmarese, Kadazans and Ibans in the liturgy using their own language.

To me, this is what Malaysia is all about. All of us are migrants to this country. We want the same good things for ourselves and our children.

I pray for Malaysia, that we individually can have clarity of vision in working selflessly towards the greater good of the whole. Only then can we be true to what our fight for independence was all about.

Angeline Lesslar is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

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Sektor pelancongan Malaysia merupakan salah satu sektor yang penting dalam ekonomi Malaysia. Sehingga saat ini, sektor pelancongan merupakan sektor kelima terbesar negara selepas sektor perkhidmatan kewangan, kelapa sawit, borong dan runcit, gas dan tenaga, dan petroleum dengan memberikan sebanyak RM36.9 bilion kepada Keluaran Negara Kasar (KNK).

Pun begitu pada peringkat awal selepas pasca kemerdekaan Malaysia, kerajaan tidak memberi penekanan terhadap sektor pelancongan. Kerajaan pada ketika itu lebih memberi tumpuan kepada pembangunan infrastruktur negara dan melawan ancaman komunis. Selain itu, faktor ancaman dari luar seperti konfrantasi dengan Indonesia turut menjejaskan rencana kerajaan pada ketika itu. Ia sekaligus melambatkan pekembangan sektor pelancongan di Malaysia.

Pada era masa 60-an, sektor pelancongan masih belum mewujudkan peranan yang utama terhadap perkembangan ekonomi negara. Kerajaan pada ketika itu memberi tumpuan kepada sektor hasil bumi seperti bijih timah dan getah. Sektor hasil bumi tersebut telah memberikan sebanyak 45% kepada keluaran Negara kasar (KNK) pada tahun 1970.