There was a time when Unspun was proud to call Malaysia home. Unspun loved Taiping, the town he grew up in, the rainforests that surrounded it, the hikes up Maxwell’s hills, swims at Burmese and Austin Pools, romancing Convent girls
on bicycles at Lake Gardens, lepaking at Wai Sek Kai, trying to catch a glimpse of the prostitutes and their clients in the Taiping Hotel just across the road from Unspun‘s school (but never succeeding)…those were innocent, halcyon days where a kid could do just what kids were meant to do without being in fear of pedophiles, snatch thieves, kidnappers and rampaging Mat Rempits.
In 1980s Unspun left Malaysia after Operasi Lallang and never went back to work in Malaysia. But for many years it occupied a special place in Unspun‘s heart — and stomach (until today Unspun thinks that Malaysian food is the best). Malaysia was like an estranged lover. Unspun could not live with her but still missed her.
Over the past few years, this began to change. After being in Indonesia for 10 years Unspun began to feel more comfortable and at home with Indonesians rather than Malaysians. The worst was a few weeks ago during a buka puasa function with Malaysians. Apart from one or two people there Unspun just could not relate to the crowd. They had such different priorities, these expatriate Malaysians who are still very much rooted to Malaysia.
Then comes news of close friends migrating out of Malaysia because of how, they feel, it has deteriorated. One couple whose husband I have known since kindergarten days migrated to Singapore, mainly for two reasons. The first was security. They told me stories of how they feared letting their children walk home from school. There had been cases of kidnappings and rapes nearby their house, which was located in a civilized part of PJ.
Then there was the education. Education standards, they tol me, were going to hell in a handbasket and really fast. Teachers who could not string two sentences together and had difficulty distinguishing their elbows from their assholes were teaching their kids. The last straw came when their children were taught Malaysian history where they were told the reason why the British colonized Malaysia was because they envied Malaysia’s prosperity and success.
They are now in Singapore, it is not the most exciting place on earth and the food sucks but their children can go out by themselves, use public transport, come back at night without triggering a security panic.
Lately, I was told that another friend who worked for a Malaysian company fo the past 15 years or so and who had a very established family and social life was uprooting himself and his family to move to Hong Kong. I do not know him that well but through friends they say that his decision is part of a pattern. The pattern is that many Malaysians are giving up on the country and moving elsewhere because things have become so bad.
My friend, by way of illustrating this deterioration, told me of how a another friend’s elder sister was now in a coma in hospital fighting for her life. She was hospitalized because a snatch thief struck her head with a hammer while trying to rob her. Incidents like these have become commonplace in Malaysia, they tell me.
What sort of a society has Malaysia become?