It is only three days to go for the very last day of August 2011. In case you are wondering what I mean, coming 31 August 2011 is fifty-four years of independence for a country called Malaysia. However, I will be asking the one question after having spoken to many Malaysians, in person and online. The one common question they have: “Are we truly Merdeka?” The word Merdeka means free or independence in Malay language. Therefore, I am blogging to point out some things Malaysians really want to point out what is really wrong back home. Secondly, what I am listing out according to what Malaysians have told me would have left the late Tunku Abdul Rahman (the first prime minister of Malaysia) rolling in his grave if he knew how badly the country has turned out. Afraid to say they are right. Darn right.

  • Corruption

Time and again, I have been reading from alternative news reports (Thank goodness for BBC, alternative media, blogs and the like so I say the mainstream Malaysian media is an epic FAIL) that touch on the issue of corruption in Malaysia. How ironic for a country with its first class infrastructure and its tallest building yet corruption is still big in Malaysia. Corruption is ugly where politicians line their pockets with Malaysian citizens’ hard-earned taxes for their personal selfish gains. Truth is, some parts of Malaysia still have rural people living in squalor without any running water, proper sewage or even electricity (and it’s a real fact). So those Lonely Planet books and beautiful postcards are just there to sugarcoat.

  • Racial quota in Malaysian state universities

Having spoken to many Malaysians who have a bone to pick about tertiary education in Malaysia, I have heard and known about the use of racial quota in state universities. Honestly, racial quotas are not doing any good to both education and society. Why should a potential university applicant be chosen according to ethnic origin, race and religion? No wonder so many Malaysians of non-Malay descent end up having to fork out more money to send their children to private colleges or universities in Malaysia or send them overseas. Have those state universities in Malaysia heard of meritocracy, that is choosing a person according to talent and ability NOT based on race, religion and ethnic origin? Tertiary education should be open to any Malaysian regardless of colour, religion and ethnic origin.

  • Double standard discounts for buying properties in Malaysia

Someone (Name suppressed for privacy reasons) who spent a couple of years living and working in Malaysia told me about the issue of double standards in buying houses in Malaysia. This is what this person told me: Malaysians of Bumiputera status (check out this link to find out what Bumiputera means) are eligible in getting 5% discount when they purchase a house whilst non-Bumiputera Malaysians (e.g. Chinese, Indian, etc) do not get a discount. There is no such double standard discount like this in countries like America, United Kingdom or even Singapore. If we have this sort of thing, that is not just discriminatory but also it would earn a community or a country a laughing stock status from the eyes of the international world who believe in equality.

  • The falling (and continuous falling) standard of English language in Malaysia

Once under British colonial rule, Malaysia was the cream of Southeast Asia where many Malaysians could speak and write perfect English all because in those days, according to Malaysian Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and Silent Generation (1925-1945), learning English was seen as a gateway to better chances in education and employment (especially in trade and civil services). Then came along, an education reform (or should I say ‘reform’) that began phasing out English-medium schools in 1970 and replacing them with Malay-medium schools by 1982. This ‘reform’ places a greater emphasis on learning the Malay language to the point of neglecting the teaching of English language to those born in the early 1970s and onwards. The outcome? Not a very good outcome from what I am told because many  of the younger Malaysian generation, Generation X(1965-1981) and Generation Y (1982-1995), cannot string a few words in proper English, orally or on paper (if you count in a badly written job application letter or an essay). Because of this, they are called the ‘lost’ generation who are deprived the joys of being able to speak and write proper English like their Baby Boomer and Silent Generation counterparts. Another thing I want to point out is how those dumb, corrupted politicians have the gall to say in the Malaysian media that learning English would turn a Malaysian into a Westerner and cause a rot to Malaysia culture. Excuse me, a rot to Malaysian culture or turning a Malaysian into a ‘white’ person? What a ridiculous statement. A Malaysian who speaks and writes perfect English, does not make him or her any less Malaysian. Lastly, those people need to face the fact that English is a lingua franca so why should they deny the young the right to learn English. Why should they not allow an English-medium school to be built for Malaysians who have the right to send their kids to one? Get real, English is used everything from media and sciences to computing and trade. Last but not least this post from Lim Kit Siang’s blog has hit the nail on the head about the importance of mastering English to enable Malaysians, especially the young ones, to compete at global level.

  •  Lack of freedom of speech and expression

Time and again, Malaysia has been labelled as a democratic country in most history and geographical books. However, I have to disagree from what I hear from Malaysians. Do you know that working as a journalist in Malaysia is a dangerous job where one can end up going to prison without a trial for just reporting the truth to the public? Absurd! How can a country be called democratic when it denies people the right to freedom of speech and expression as well as media freedom?

  • Biased government policies

Need to say more? Well that would explain why many Malaysians I come across are moving out overseas for better lives.  Who wants to live in a country that have stupid and biased policies anyway?

These are all I can list about the issues that some Malaysians have the defined their question, “Are we truly Merdeka?”. What says you about this issue? What else do you think are other issues that touch about what they want change for their country, Malaysia? Do you know a Malaysia or Malaysians who tell you exactly what is ‘wrong’ with their country? Opinions are welcome! (But no profanity please)