31 August 2005

Merdeka - What if it didn't happen?

For a first post, this is a little grumpy...

I spent last night and the wee hours of the morning in a pub in PJ, celebrating Merdeka. Of course, 'celebrating' is probably the wrong word - i was just sitting mostly by myself, drinking whisky and Coke. Yes, I'm boring.

It's been 48 years since Malaysia gained independence and sometimes, I can't help but wonder what it would've been like had we remained under British rule. Would it have been better? Probably. Here's what Malaysia could've been today:

1. For starters, we'd still be called Malaya, which is better since it means that people would confuse us with Indonesia less often.

2. There would've been more proper pubs, which meant that a pint of beer would've been far more accessible today. Some places like Souled Out in Hartamas serve Guinness in a little glass (about the size of a small beer mug) and have the audacity to put a little marker near the top with the words "The perfect pint". That's rubbish! We even argued with the waiter, and he insisted that it was a pint - after all, it said so on the glass. And on the drinks menu, i think. A pint is a unit of measurement, not some advertising gimmick.

Oh, and fewer places would've sold watered down beer at RM20 a jug or something...

3. We would've been driving better cars. Some dude wrote to the New Straits Times today and pointed out that we're paying about RM140,000 (can't remember the exact figure) for Korean-made Hyundai Sonatas while the Koreans get them for for about RM50,000. Plus, their average income is higher than ours.

Now, if Proton made excellent cars, I wouldn't be as grumpy. After all a Gen-2 can be had for about RM50,000 so it's affordable. But Proton builds their cars down to a price rather than up to a standard, and the general consensus is that they make cheap, crummy cars. While they're cheaper than everything else in the market, they're still far too expensive for what you get. Thank God for Perodua... (Unlike Proton, at least they don't need ads to convince people that they have quality control procedures).

4. The standard of English may have been better. It has come to a point where some journalists at local English newspapers can't even get their basic grammar right. I can't think of any examples off the top of my head, but The Star has become an excellent tool for English teachers - they can get students to spot and correct mistakes as an exercise

5. At least everyone would have equal rights. I wholeheartedly support our founding fathers' decisions to award privileges to Malays back in 1957 to help them catch up with the rest of the country. But it's been 48 years, and they still practising 'positive discrimination'. Along the way, these privileges have somehow turned into rights, which everybody has been told "not to question".

Anyway, enough about politics. For more of that (and with far greater detail), you're better off at www.jeffooi.com. Personally, I'm not really affected by all this since I've got a decent job. But I wish that the government would strive to offer welfare, scholarships and opportunities to Malaysians who need it, regardless of their race.

I'm not patriotic. At all. But I love this country.

6. Decent sandwiches would've been more commonplace. It's a really sad fact, but it's really hard to get a decent sandwich in Malaysia. And one that doesn't cost more than 10 ringgit. Seriously, there are times I wish I could just hop into a local shop for lunch and pack a BLT or something with mustard mayo and cheese in it.

7. We would actually appreciate tea. Not teh tarik or teh ice (with about 50% sweetened condensed milk in it) but proper tea that actually doesn't taste like milk, sugar and sawdust.

8. More people would have a sense of humour. Actually, maybe not. Hong Kong was under British rule until about 8 years ago and they are the most unfunny people on earth. Just look at their 'comedies' on TV and in the movies, with their slapstick humour, lame jokes and predictable punchlines. At least more people would've heard of Monty Python...

Ok... I'll stop now. Here are some pics from the festivities: The venue...

Thomas (whom I haven't seen in 2 years), me and Aloy

Yee Yin making an entrance...

Farah and Aloy getting some fresh air