Frustration looms and hovers long every time I land in the discussion pertaining to my role as a Malaysian.
There is so much talk going on about change and wanting to see change happen. After a while, one wonders if we are saying all these niceties because it is the cool Christian thing to say. Or even, the cool Gen-Y thing to say.
Some days, I chicken out from chanting the gungho - "I want to see change!" - phrase. That little man sitting on my left shoulder throws discouragement my way time and time again - "Change, ay? What are YOU doing about change, Ms Gungho?" *smirk*
I roll back into my hideout, reflecting on whether or not my lifestyle reflects the change I want to see. And I wonder - When is that epic change going to happen?! Am I ever going to be a part of anything significant in this place?!
One wise man once threw us this thought. If he had one wish, he would wish to be younger again, starting off where we are right now.
No, it wasn't so that he could be a part of our very sophisticated, gadget-filled, no-time-for-anything else culture.. but so that he could start bringing on friend to Christ, and disciple him for one whole year. If that works out, he and his new brother could go out and each bring one more to Christ - spending another year in the discipleship process.
And in the following year, all 4 of them would go out and reach another 4.
In the wonderful world of math, it will then, take only 33 years.. that's right, 33 years - to reach the WORLD.
That's right, not just our tiny country. But, the world. And it starts from a mere ONE in ONE year.
I suppose, I don't have to be a superhero anymore. I never was one, anyway.
All I need to do is to be a friend. To one, two, three.. And start being a part of something epic - within a span of 33 years.
Imagine if we all reached one every year.
Note: I've not checked the veracity of the exponential calculation, you could do it if you want to :)
It's tough, but it's OKAY.
The Why's of Homecoming
Frustration looms and hovers long every time I land in the discussion pertaining to my role as a Malaysian.
I believe this is no coincidence - on the day that I wanted to write about homecoming, I read Deuteronomy 15:7-11.
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 (New International Version)
7 If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. 8 Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. 9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: "The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near," so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.
Was I really all about that? Coming home to serve the poor and needy? Nope, I came back because it was just the most natural thing to do - to return home. Yet today as I write this, I realise that God has been teaching me to slowly take ownership of my identity as a Malaysian. God has been teaching me that there is a reason I was born a Malaysian.
I remember very clearly on the day I took off for Melbourne. I remember saying my goodbyes calmly and even happily to my family. But in the plane, when the reality of leaving home hit me, I started to cry like a baby, yes, I was literally sobbing on my journey to Australia.
I think it took me a few months to settle in and enjoy the great things Melbourne and university life had to offer. There were many things I missed about home. I missed my comfy room, the conversations with my family, and the company of my best friends. I missed the familiarity of my surroundings. I missed the good food. I missed the environment that I grew up in. I missed the predictable, humid weather. I missed knowing where to go for things. I missed home.
Don’t get me wrong, after that few months, I settled in great. I enjoyed my university life thoroughly. I enjoyed the freedom and the ‘human value proposition’ that Australia offered. The public transport was terrific! What’s not to love about Melbourne? Having said that, in all honesty, I always knew that being in Melbourne was just to further my studies. I always had a return ticket home.
Being back home is not without its challenges. Work is demanding. Traffic is demanding. Everything from cars to your roti canai seems to be financially demanding. But we overcome. We remember that we are stewards of God who live purposeful lives. And our purpose is more than living comfortably. Heck, there is no purpose in living comfortably here on earth. We are called to store up treasures in heaven, right? Also, as Deuteronomy 15:7-11 rightly says, we need to be openhanded/generous to the poor and needy in our land. Where is this land that God has given to me? MALAYSIA. My land and my plight are here. And if you search and see beyond the greener pastures, it may be yours too.
It has been a good 6 years since I returned home. I still suffer from the ‘I-wish-I-was-back-in-Melbourne’ syndrome. But it’s that carefree and phase of life that I really miss rather than the country itself. Although I could not pin point a particular reason for coming home then, I am learning to see how God is using the simple fact that I am back for His purposes.
In these past six years, I have been given the chance and opportunity to do more things than I could have done had I remained in Melbourne. I was given the chance to reach out and help tutor poor and underprivileged children, I played a part in the March 2008 elections by organizing a group of polling and counting agents for the Subang Jaya constituency, I help out in doing the accounts for a state assemblyman’s office, I got hitched to one of the most inspiring and passionate man in the country (couldn’t have found him in Australia), I work in a large MNC and was able to openly share Christ with my colleagues (one of them even told me that she and her family has accepted Christ lately!), and the opportunities are still coming in!
I say these in all sincerity with no desire whatsoever to boast. I just want to affirm you that even in a country where hope seems lost, God has greater plans and can use you to make that difference. Question is, are you willing to come home?
Carlton OCF (Melbourne) Alumni 2002-2004
I was supposed to write this months ago but was a bit (only a bit!) lazy to use my brains to arrange all the thoughts swirling in my head. Over the last few months though, life (well, my life at least) has changed so much, I think I'm on a speed train.
Like most of those who came back, IT WAS DEPRESSING. Some thought I was mad to come back, others thought I was just plain dumb. I agree with both. Life in Adelaide would have been much greener, nicer, (insert all good adjectives here)...... Still for some reason I felt that I should be in Malaysia, and so packed up and left Adelaide at the end of 2008.
I came back inspired to make a difference. To be the change. To save my city. But in reality, I missed Aussie. I missed the lifestyle, I missed the weather, I missed Gloria Jeans, I missed all my friends. Not all was dark and gloomy though, in 2010 I got hitched to the man of my dreams, and that was definitely something to be joyous about!
Life wasn't a bed of roses though. Fresh grads in Ipoh don't really earn much, and I felt constricted when i came to money. Most of my friends were in the same boat, and disillusionment set it. But over the last two months, I have come to realize something very important. Even though on paper we most probably can't afford to pay all the bills, we have managed. With God's faithfulness, and His providence, we have more than enough! There is enough every month, we are more than blessed! I am learning to praise and thank Him for his providence, and to shout Hallelujah! when there are problems. I am learning that each one of us can CHOOSE blessings (or curses). I am learning that obedience comes before blessings.
And exactly two months ago, the Lord has blessed us with a little someone who will be arriving in seven months time. Is life here tough? Maybe. But if we can't be thankful for all that we are already blessed with, then no matter how much we have, will still won't be satisfied. Sure, I probably can't afford having dinner at San Fransisco steak house every night, and I can't afford a BMW. But really, I am discovering that life is more than cars, and fancy restaurants. Sure, money is important, and I would be very happy to have more. But i know that I will never be in need. Instead, I should be giving and sowing, so that it can be given back unto me.
Perhaps all our perspectives need a little tweaking. Being thankful is easy when we have more than enough. But being thankful when we don't, that's when we allow God to pour out His blessings.
So is the grass greener on the other side? In some ways. But I would never have learnt all these if I didn't come back to Malaysia. Hallellujah!
Adelaide, Australia (2006-2008)
Malaysia is a beautiful country. No doubt about it.
One day I shall conquer Kinabalu.
And wade the beaches of Redang.
Hike through its rainforests......
Run through its paddy fields.....
Or navigate through its mangrove while watching fireflies at night.......
Yes. Malaysia is beautiful, diverse in its culture and heritage.
I was reminded recently that I was suppose to have a 2nd post. Well, this one will be more light hearted. Pictures are not mine, they were all plucked out from Google Images. So I sincerely hope that no one will sue me for this. Please don't sue me. The only reason I took them is because the pictures were great.
Anyways, I grew up in Petaling Jaya, a satelite city of Kuala Lumpur. Born in 1987, I remember cycling through the streets back in the days when there was no Ipod, Nintendo Wii and internet for that matter. I still remember running barefoot on the sands of the playground near my house almost everyday. Sands that have tasted both my sweat and blood, as they have always provided a landing when I fell. Sands that have sensed the excitement in my feet and the creativity of my hands. Tanah air.
My sweetest childhood memories were made in Malaysia. High school, college, were all middle class suburban of nature. All made in Malaysia. No matter where I go, home is still home. The feeling you get after returning home after a long period of absence is irreplacable. To sleep in your own bed....... the comfort, safety and familiarity.
When we were younger, we lived carelessly, blissful, ignorant to the basic things that gave us comfort, taking for granted (this is the view of a middle class suburban kid, fortunate enough to experience these luxuries). As we grew older, we realised that these were not free, our parents had to work hard to provide for us, and that now it is time to take responsibility and ownership of our lives, to provide for ourselves and for them.
I guess its the same with our country. Malaysia is truly an awesome place, made me who I am today. And I have become a working adult now. Time to take some sort of ownership eh.......
To be honest I am pretty ignorant to a lot of what is happening in the country, living in my own little bubble, not really taking time to walk in the shoes of others. So I decided to take a closer look at Malaysia. My tool: the internet.
Here are some stats on Malaysia, all plucked out from various sources from the internet. Please don't ask me on the validity of the information, I have no idea, and it would be great to get some input from others if its wrong. But I think it shouldn't be too far off from the truth........
26,160,256 (July 2010 est.)
Although I think our population in the country is probably more than that. Its probably about 28 million.
Population by Age Group:-
Source: Dept of Statistics of Msia
Muslim 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8% (2000 census)
Christianity by States:-
|State||Adherents||% of Population|
|Selangor (including Federal Territory of Putrajaya)||166,018||4.2%|
|Federal Territory||Adherents||% of Population|
Highest number of Christians are from Sabah & Sarawak.
Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai
More than 10 million Malaysians will not be able to read this post.
Population below poverty line:-
5.1% (2002 est.)
People living with HIV/AIDS:-
80,000 (2007 est.)
|Labour Force ('000)|| |
|Employed ('000)|| |
|Unemployed ('000)|| |
|Unemployment Rate |
(% of Labour Force)
|Labour Force Participation Rate (%) |
(% of working age population 15-64 years)
Source: Labour Force Survey, Department of Statistics, Malaysia
|Acquitted||4,265|| ||[21st of 30]|
|Bribe payers index||3.9|| ||[15th of 19]|
|Burglaries||32,913|| ||[21st of 38]|
|Burglaries (per capita)||1.37407 per 1,000 people|| ||[33rd of 54]|
|Car thefts||55,879|| ||[13th of 46]|
|Car thefts (per capita)||2.33286 per 1,000 people|| ||[16th of 55]|
|Convicted||51,433|| ||[32nd of 34]|
|Convicted (per capita)||2.14725 per 1,000 people|| ||[42nd of 56]|
|Drug offences||48.6 per 100,000 people|| ||[19th of 46]|
|Embezzlements||4,212|| ||[14th of 36]|
|Embezzlements (per capita)||0.175844 per 1,000 people|| ||[24th of 44]|
|Frauds||2,000|| ||[37th of 48]|
|Frauds (per capita)||0.0834968 per 1,000 people|| ||[51st of 61]|
| Illicit drugs |
drug trafficking prosecuted vigorously and carries severe penalties; heroin still primary drug of abuse, but synthetic drug demand remains strong; continued ecstasy and methamphetamine producer for domestic users and, to a lesser extent, the regional drug market
|Jails||26,294|| ||[1st of 80]|
|Jails (per capita)||1.09773 per 1,000 people|| ||[5th of 62]|
|Judges and Magistrates||357|| ||[31st of 35]|
|Judges and Magistrates (per capita)||0.0149042 per 1,000 people|| ||[43rd of 45]|
|Murders||551|| ||[24th of 49]|
|Murders (per capita)||0.0230034 per 1,000 people|| ||[34th of 62]|
|Police||82,383|| ||[14th of 47]|
|Police (per capita)||3.43936 per 1,000 people|| ||[13th of 48]|
|Prisoners||39,258 prisoners|| ||[33rd of 168]|
|Prisoners > Female||9%|| ||[8th of 134]|
|Prisoners > Foreign prisoners||39.6%|| ||[11th of 86]|
|Prisoners > Per capita||161 per 100,000 people|| ||[54th of 164]|
|Prisoners > Pre-trial detainees||30.7%|| ||[72nd of 143]|
|Prisoners > Share of prison capacity filled||122.5%|| ||[57th of 128]|
|Rapes||1,210|| ||[26th of 50]|
|Rapes (per capita)||0.0505156 per 1,000 people|| ||[38th of 65]|
|Robberies||14,696|| ||[22nd of 47]|
|Robberies (per capita)||0.613535 per 1,000 people|| ||[26th of 64]|
|Software piracy rate||59%|| ||[59th of 107]|
|Total crimes||167,173|| ||[32nd of 50]|
|Total crimes (per capita)||6.97921 per 1,000 people|| ||[50th of 60]|
|30||United Arab Emirates||6.5||5.9||5.7||6.2||6.2||6.1||5.2|
|31||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||6.4||6.5||6.1|
This post took a bit of time, but looking at the statistics, I guess I can't really say that my life is terrible. So many more people are less fortunate than myself. We were given the opportunity to study abroad, to learn and equip ourselves. Let us not put it to waste.
Poverty, education, crime, corruption........... to put a few issues.
There is so much to do here in our country. But if the brain drain continues, then it will be hard.
Some might think that there is no hope. But I believe God hasn't given up yet.
This is still home. Our home. Come back and take ownership of it.
Some of us might be like Moses, we might not be able to enter the promise land. But let fight for them.