image credits: link
When I was in Australia, I got the chance to observe the workings of what a developed, functional society was like, and maybe even dreamt a little for my own. I saw many things, and experienced many, but if anything made an impression on me, its these two, simple points:
In a developed country, we can afford to abide by the rules instead of trying to bend them. It seemed to me, that Australians knew the total depth of their actions, and possessed the understanding that even small-end, petty crimes, acts of vandalism, pick-pocketing or simply taking-what-isn’t-yours comes with its consequences.
In Malaysia, its more the case that we’re constantly testing how much you could get away with. We inch forward when we think people aren’t looking, and cut into their lines, we throw our cigarette butts off buildings, spit everywhere, and try to get away with paying the bare minimum for everything. Take the way we bribe our police officers, “Hey, its economical.” Why pay RM 200 and go all the way to governmental offices, wasting our time and energies for a fine, when we could pay RM 20 upfront, and avoid all that hassle?
To do any less than that is to be deemed really ‘stupid’.
Of course, every country has its unlawful, uncouth citizens, and uncivilized individuals, even Australia (Note: Bogans*). But the difference is, developed countries have a higher number of developed minds in the general public. Think thinking people like you and I, times more, and you have a developed country. Its a culture that has dealt with each citizen a certain measure of trust- trusting that they know what to do with it, and they don’t betray that rust.
(*Bogans: Like Rempits/ la-las)
You have these nifty self-pay systems at your regular grocer’s that allows the autonomy to self-weigh your own apples. You are to choose the proper price allotted for the type of apple you’re getting- and there were many in varying prices. I used to ask myself, what’s to stop people from picking the cheapest priced apple for the lot? Honestly, no one looks to see if you’re dishonest. Once I even almost wanted to leave without paying for this packet of nectarines, because honestly there was no regulator hawking over the ‘teet teet’ machines. But eventually conscience took over, and I melded into the culture of honesty. In my entire semester there, even with my paltry student’s income, I can most assuredly say I have paid the full price for every single thing I ever bought there, and instead of feeling pride, still somewhere deep in my brain, the Malaysian in me went “stupid girl”.
One of the other more pivotal differences I took away from Melbourne was that they seemed to treat every working man with the same level of respect, devoid of their occupation. The prevailing message was – What your career is does not define who you are.
A teacher, a garbage collector and a sales clerk would share their human-ship over pints of beer without so much as batting an eyelid. In fact there even seems to be a sense of mutual camaraderie of the working class pitted against the ‘man’ and bourgeois. The more regular and mundane you were, the more you are liked and accepted as a ‘bro’.
Last night while I was watching football (Malaysia versus Taipei), my little (not so little) brother asked me of our Malaysian team, “Why is everyone Malay or Indian?”
I said, “Cause the Chinese all want to be businessman”.
Malaysian/ Asian society has taught us, if we weren’t business people in the corporate world climbing the career ladder, we aren’t worth much. Playing football all day in the sun isn’t going to amount to much in the future. Its not going to get you a decent standard of living, you will have a hard life. You will suffer in the world without anything to eat.
From the start, we were groomed to be in the sciences, to be future lawyers, doctors, engineers, businessmen and women, and we were taught that anything less than that was not worth pursuing. To be anything less would be met with loss respects.
When I think about, I do understand why there’s this distinction of ‘statuses’ and the push for these professions. Because even if you were a garbage collector in Australia, you still earn a decent standard of living, and whatever you don’t earn, the government supports you. We can’t say the same for Malaysia can we?
We human beings operate on a basis of ‘lack’, our motives and actions stem from this. When we grapple ahead, when we wish to cut corners and get ahead of the que, its all because when we don’t, ultimately we feel like we lose out. We’re already losing at the losing end. Can we really be blamed for these behaviors?
In wishing for a better future, a viable income, a decent standard of living, we resort to aiming for professions that could get us there in this society. We resort to actions that are savage at times, we don’t say our please and thank you’s, we don’t look people in the eye, because really, half of our country has greater things to worry about, mouths to feed, individual battles to fight. So really, I understand why our country is this way, I know why our parents want these futures for us.
So what do we do now Malaysia?
What do we do now Government?
Hint: Hard work.
(Insert: Cheesy Taglines, but all too true) image credits: link
We have all the answers in the world, we just need all the action in the world to get there.
What do you think?