Friday, February 08, 2008

Malaysia-Singapore Similarities

DISCLAIMER: This is a personal comment. If you may feel offended by this, please do not read further. You have been forewarned.

I was asked by a friend to write a few lines of comment, on what I feel about our little island neighbour across the causeway. She wanted a few ideas to help with her article. But what started as a few lines of text, eventually led to this short blog. So, here you go.

Regardless of the political rhetoric and all the sandiwara that we get to witness, our two countries are more similar than we dare to think. Regardless of what Singaporean history believes, Sir Stamford Raffles did not discover Singapore. Temasek, as it was then known, was part of the empire of Srivijaya and subsequently, part of the Johor Sultanate. With a common beginning, it doesn't come as a surprise why we actually share more similarities than both sides care to acknowledge.

Although there's less tropical rainforests left on the island than the size of a small farm in Malaysia, we both get a tropical rainforest climate with no distinctive seasons. With most of Malaysia covered by virgin rainforests, we have enough of it to make enough of this climate for the both of us. This has led some people to believe that Malaysians still live on trees.

Many Singaporeans are shocked with the fact that we both share the same national language, Malay, which is the reason why the above coat-of-arms says Majulah Singapura and all children learn to sing their national anthem in a language that few ever understand. I find it comical that Malaysians can understand their national anthem better than them. Then, as members of the Commonwealth, we speak English and as our people are ethnically similar, we end up with the same few vernacular tongues spoken too.

Privileged Class
Many Singaporeans like to laugh at the fact that in Malaysia, our government practises policies that effectively make one class of citizens, the bumiputera, a privileged class and every other race an underclass. They don't realise that Singapore practices the very same thing, that effectively makes one class of citizens, the intellectually gifted, a privileged class. In both cases, the government lays out all kinds of incentives that give the privileged class better opportunities in life. A regular Joe who isn't born intelligent in Singapore, will really struggle to fight against the system just like someone who isn't born a bumiputera in Malaysia.

Democratic Freedoms
We both enjoy the similar levels of democracy. In both cases, our elections are heavily rigged to the advantage of the ruling party. All our mainstream media conglomerates are directly linked to the ruling government, which ensures that only correct news and views get published to keep the people misinformed. Our opposition parties have been so hopelessly weakened that the ruling party continues to enjoy power, unfettered. Our governments are so fearful of political unrest that they use the police as their political dogs and will set them upon any protest, regardless of cause.

Political Corruption
We both suffer from dynastic tendencies of our politicians, with sons automagically in line to inherit the former position of their fathers. Politicians join politics in order to gain ministerial power, after which, they end up earning obscene amounts of money. Well, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, or so the saying goes. In both cases, any allegation of corrupt practises get a white washing and are made free and clear.

Okay, we're definitely different on this. The hidden truth is that food in Malaysia is far superior to anything that you can find in Singapore. Malaysia is a glutton's paradise.

Right, I think that this should be more than enough for now unless of course she asks me to write down more.

1 comment:

Dan said...
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