I have heard so many people talk and cite so many problems as to why Malaysia is still struggling to fulfill its potential as a nation. There’s always been some big promise somewhere; but end of the day it becomes half-baked, with its leftovers doing as much damage as it does good for the country.
Of course, we can go on an endless rant what is actually missing in this nation. All sorts of political statements can be dished out. Something about the system. Something about the people. Something, something…but what is it? We try our level best to set things right; we believe telling the truth would make a difference, some of us believe being non-prejudicial would make a world of difference. I was looking for this missing puzzle, like I believe many of us were as well; in short, we were soul-searching. There is a Malaysian essence, and we know it. An essence of Malaysia as a whole. There is a spirit there, an embodiment, an identity. But we don’t seem to be able to quite put our fingers on it; or maybe we are just clueless as to how we will go about to bring that essence out and make everyone feel it.
But lest we always seem to forget an important fact- it all starts with a little reflection. The answers lies within the image you see in the mirror every day. At least I realized that. What is this country missing? Forget the politicians, the corruptions, the so-called racisms, the you-don’t-talk-shits, and everything else associated with it. Because I look in the mirror and I know, for a fact, I have something to offer. I do matter. As a citizen of this ‘visionary’ country, I have something to offer. I have a potential. Me as a person and my abilities. But I’m missing.
You look into the history of so-called great countries, and you find embedded in them, a persona of art, someone who dared lift stories from a daily baking oven to the pages of a book, or with the weave of a brush on a canvas, an ink feather on a citrus paper, a hand strumming a guitar, a picture captured through a wonderful lens. My Malaysia is not made up of people who do not know where and when to make a statement, or a lawyer who strongly believes a person can commit self-strangulation. It is made up of things such as that small hawker stall, a warm smile on a hot day, a breeze of wind in early morning, a descending mist on your car window as dawn approaches- the things that actually matter.
Art is no small matter. For those who have it will know the velocity of having something so mystic brewing inside you but not being able to express it out. Am I the first person in this country to have this eye, an eye for depth, an eye for invisible connections? Definitely not. There are many who have preceded me, for sure. But lights die out when nobody takes enough care to let the fire burning. You let the wind blow it off, and the light fades. There have been many who have faded before me. And this country keeps losing the every grain of chance it has to finally find some soul. People don’t listen to you when you look back one day and say this is the land of the great KLCC or Pavilion or billion-dollar investments. Heads will turn back when you say this is the land which produced human beings of exceptional qualities rather than buildings of exceptional qualities. Art is an universal language. All heads will turn upon you when you manage to ruffle a peacock’s feather and find the beauty of it. I am a dreamer, but I am ignored.
A sense of belonging gets deprived somewhere along the way as these chain of events continue. When a lifelong Malaysian comes back to his country one day and says he couldn’t care less anymore about the so-called progress the country is aping to capture; that he misses being in Vietnam rather than being in the mighty Kuala Lumpur, that is already a big slap on any Tom, Dick and Harry who thinks they know how to make this country progress.
Does Hanoi have more developments than this country? In our obsession to race heading to the goal posts of economy, we are losing our souls. People like me, like him, like many others, can form the Malaysian soul. But when the country has very little regard for these souls; we are better appreciated in other lands.
And I sit and think again: Why of all places, Malaysia? Why did YOU choose me to be born in this country?
And my question is someone else’s big failure. Or maybe we all should take collective responsibility for my questions.
For we have been busy thinking legends are made anywhere else but in Malaysia.
This country’s biggest sinking ship is not its submarines or billions of ringgits, but rather this soul. You’d be forgiven for thinking I have given up. No, I have not. The lamp is still burning, hope is still there. But I have to say this; this lamp will burn somewhere else one day if not here.
The last thing I’ll do is let my lamp be blown by the wind in this country. But till then, I’ll still fight.