Sunday, 23 December 2007

What's with the Indonesians and Malaysians

There has been quite a bit of squabbling between the people of these two neighbours, not their governments, thankfully.

FIrst it's about a song. Did Indonesians originated that song or did a descendant of the Malay race write that song while living in a land which was neither Indonesia or Malaysia then?

Then there's this dance which was used by Malaysia in a an ad about the country. That was purportedly an Indonesian dance.

A blog surfaced recently with the hate for Indonesians as its theme, purportedly set up in Malaysia but written in perfect Bahasa Indonesian rather than Bahasa Melayu, the language used in Malaysia.

Why do Malaysia's government departments need to feature songs or dances which are not truly Malaysian, beyond all reasonable doubt? That country supposedly has a higher literacy rate than Indonesia's 220 million people; yet it seems to falter on basic research. Hasn't Malaysia or haven't Malaysians "originated" something truly Malaysian. Why use songs or dances which are or could become potentially contentious?

Since Malaysia won two tiny disputed islands off Borneo's coast at an international tribunal from Indonesia, the Malaysians seem emboldened. They're presently fighting with Singapore for another island between Johore and Singapore, based mainly on historical claims that one of their many sultanates owned that small piece of rock off their coast since time immemorial.

Both Malaysia and Indonesia are proud countries with proud people. Their people are supposed to have lived on their lands, not recent migrants like the majority of Singpoare's population is made up of. But the real indigenous people of their lands have been neglected too, not to the point of being marginalised like the aborigines in Australia appear to be.

But in fact there's still some doubt as to whether the Malays in Indonesia and Malaysia who now controls their economies and governments are actually natives of those countries. In Wikipedia, there is mention that some believe that they are actually "Austronesian people" who migrated there from southern Philippines. Whatever the theory, the people of Indonesia and Malaysia belong to the same race, separated by two national flags.

ASEAN member countries just signed a charter recently in Singapore for all of ASEAN to become integrated like the European union. Economically this made sense, and could be the only chance for survival in the face of competition from "billion people" economies like India and China. So why are ASEAN countries quarreling like they are now? Doesn't seem like they realized the virtues of unity for the common good. Do we really believe ASEAN can be one?

With young (relatively) nations like Malaysia and Indonesia whose politicians have no qualms about invoking nationalistic sentiments to drum up support or distract their populace from the real problems in their respective countries, do we think that a united and integrated ASEAN is really possible. Just look at what's happened to Singapore's Temasek's investments in Thailand and Indonesia and you'll understand.

Well whatever it is, we won't have to wait long. When we get closer to 2015, we should all be singing "I could see clearly now the rain has gone".

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