I AM writing to remind myself, all readers and leaders of this wonderful nation, whether political, governmental, community, NGOs, even bosses, directors and school principals, that Malaysia is still a beautiful country to live in.
The word “still” powerfully reminds us to stop, pause and be “still” at this very moment of our lives, at this very special juncture of the nation’s history, to look back, ponder and look ahead.
Malaysia is about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its formation – on Sept 16, 1963.
Over the centuries, our homeland survived under the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Japanese, followed by a brief confrontation with our neighbour, Indonesia, and a prolonged subversive warfare with the communists, the latter stretching a dozen years.
Barely a dozen years after Merdeka, we were transiently rocked by racial riots in 1969. The infamous riots, however, involved only a limited number of states.
While Johor experienced some tension, no significant incidents happened then, thanks to the strong and effective intervention of the royal office, urging Johoreans “not to stir trouble nor disrupt harmony in the state”.
It is a fact that Malaysia is a beautiful country to live in. And this is not only a personal statement and belief, or the biased opinion of local Malaysians.
If you Google “Best Place to Retire”, you will find Malaysia consistently among the top 10 in the world, not just in Asia.
Factors being considered in the polls and reviews include infrastructure, access to good health facilities, safety and crime, political stability, cost of living, and the people, spoken language, access to religious places of worship, culture and recreation.
Yes, Malaysia comes out tops, and is among the best places in the world to retire in. In case you do not know, or have not noticed, thousands of elderly, silver-haired couples have settled in this beautiful country, making Malaysia their second home.
These folks have come from faraway places like Japan, America and Europe to live here and to enjoy the beauty of our nation.
In my work as a doctor, I meet hundreds of such MM2H fellow “Malaysians”, as well as hundreds of expatriates from all over the world.
Then there are students from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Each time I encounter any of these people, I will invariably ask them about their stay here and the answer is almost unanimously, “It is wonderful to stay in Malaysia. I love Malaysia!”
As we are turning 50 this year, let us celebrate and enjoy this beautiful and truly amazingly wonderful nation of ours.
Firstly, the people. Malaysians, comprising Malays, Chinese, Indians, (including Punjabis, Ceylonese, Gujeratis, Bengalis, Sindis), Eurasians, Dayaks (Ibans and Bidayuh), Kadazans, Muruts, Orang Ulu, Orang Asli and many others), are a wonderful mix of people, with a myriad of cultures, practising all the known major faiths in the world.
Secondly, the infrastructure and homes, with some limitations, are affordable and superb.
Thirdly, healthcare is accessible, and still affordable to all.
Fourthly, the country’s natural beauty, including the forests, beaches and parks, makes living during the retirement years perfect for outdoor living.
Fifthly, sporting facilities and recreational amenities literally cover nearly all sports from the basic to the esoteric.
Many of these sports are not easily accessible or affordable, even in their original country.
Sixth is the cuisine and food available, especially in the bigger cities. Restaurants sprout out in every corner, boasting of original Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, French, Arabic, Turkish, and Italian cuisines, among others.
Seventh, apart from the wide use of English, the easy-to-learn Malay language makes communication and movement in the cities smooth and easy.
Eighth, the cost of living is still much lower than that in the West.
Ninth is access to good schools and universities.
Many Asians, Africans and Middle Eastern citizens flock here for affordable tertiary education.
Tenth, for martial art practitioners, and special sports, Malaysia has a whole range of schools with some of the best teachers in these arts.
You can learn aikido, yoga, pilates, judo, jujitsu, kung fu, taekwondo, karate, kick-boxing, silat, kendo, fencing, and more, at very affordable rates.
Eleventh, Malaysia is a shopping heaven, with an amazing selection of shopping centres, that are always packed and full on weekends.
The list goes on for why Malaysia is a beautiful country, but the word “still” is worrisome.
It implies that the adjective “beautiful” may not be permanent, and that the beauty of this country is being eroded, threatened or diminishing.
The beauty of this country is indeed being threatened by rising street crime, rising cost of living, some degree of political and social unrest, and rising incidents of rudeness and rage on the streets.
Also, a lot of noise is generated by extreme views over small matters, making mountains out of molehills.
Sadly, everything these days seems to be politicised and categorised under race or religion. Malaysians have become oversensitive and intolerant, and this “sickness” is raging across the nation from top to bottom. It should stop.
A strong voice from the leaders of the nation, from government, society and community leaders, from directors, bosses, and even school principals, can steer us back towards the right path of social integration and harmony.
Let us be still again, and allow sensibility and sensitivity to sink back into our culture and nature as Malaysians.
Indeed, Malaysia is still a beautiful country to live in.
DR KH SNG
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