DO ANY of you remember the Dutch singer Anneke Grönloh?
When I was growing up, I remember watching the film clip of her singing a beautiful song called Oh Malaysia on television several times.
What made it more wonderful was the visuals of our beautiful beaches and scenes of great Malaysian hospitality.
I felt proud watching it then, and regardless of what is going on now, I still feel proud hearing and watching it today, especially when she sings the words “Oh, Malaysia – Land of Glory”.
But lately, I am not sure if many Malaysians would use the word “proud” when describing our Malaysia. Let’s be honest, we have had our fair share of dramas and challenges lately. This might have fuelled many people’s desire to migrate.
Many Malaysians are going overseas. Even though some may not meet the requirements to migrate, they think about it. Some people believe it’s only non-Malays who want to migrate, but many of my Malay friends want to go overseas as well.
According to the latest World Bank report, there are at least 311,000 Malaysians working overseas. I am surprised this figure is not higher because I am constantly attending farewell parties of friends who are migrating. These friends tell me via Facebook and WhatsApp, that they miss home but our country is generally not safe or progressing as it should. They also say they are fed up with the constant politicking.
Will Vision 2020 become a reality? We will soon find out, but at this stage, it’s looking bleak.
A fortnight ago, I attended an event where a journalist asked me why I love Malaysia. Some of my colleagues there yawned theatrically and said sarcastically, “No love at the moment”. But I chose to be positive and said, “In Malaysia, anything is possible. If you have a creative idea, then it can be implemented.”
This was something I found quite challenging when I studied overseas. My sarcastic colleagues then turned around and said, “That is a fair comment”, so I told them off in a jesting way for being so negative.
But then another colleague said, “Well, Ben – I am getting married soon and my husband-to-be is from the United States. I can’t wait to migrate because, apart from my family, there is nothing here for me”.
Unfortunately, the last part of her sentence is something that I frequently hear from friends and colleagues.
So whose fault is it, you may ask? Well, it’s easy to blame the politicians. But we are all at fault. If we choose not to signal and to drive like a madman, whose fault is that? If we choose not to put rubbish in the bin when walking on the street, whose fault is that? If a clean public toilet suddenly becomes messy, whose fault is that?
Even if we are not guilty of the above, they are the things we can do. We can tell people off politely and run campaigns so people get the message, but it is not something that can be fixed overnight.
I hope we can eventually figure it out and make it work. Malaysia is a wonderful place. I believe that and, as I always say to anybody who criticises Malaysia, “No country is perfect”.
We Malaysians don’t ask for much; we just want two things – progress and fair play.
Ben Ibrahim is a TV presenter, emcee, writer, corporate trainer, educator and a proud Malaysian. He can be contacted on his email, twitter @benibrahim, and instagram @benibrahim_