Conversations

Two Chinese-Malaysian brothers, Melaka

Melaka closes Jonkers street to traffic three nights a week. On those nights the souvenirs slingers, food hawkers and beer sellers set up shop out on the pavement and one night, while Julie and I were playing cards, two Chinese men born and raised in Melaka, took an interest and soon began giving us their unsolicited pointers on how to play Gin, the policies of George Bush Jr. and how to live life in general. We were up talking long after everyone else went home and we thought we'd get their views on a couple of other burning questions down in print. Though the brothers contradict themselves at times, their views are all the more interesting for it.


Younger brother

1. What is the best thing about Malaysia?

The racial harmony we could have. On the whole we enjoy racial freedom in Malaysia and our president has done a lot to help in this matter. It has some way to go, but for the most part we (Chinese, Malay and Indian) get along.

2. What is the worst thing about Malaysia?

Racial discrimination in disguise. By this I mean that it is not like America where you just shoot your blacks. Here it is more complicated. In former times, under the British, we Chinese were on top because we were the economy. Today we feel like second class citizens because of all the policies of the government that favor the Bumiputra, the native Malay's. Sometimes I feel like the Chinese in Malaysia are in the same position as the Jews were in Europe at the beginning of the century, we have alot of economic power but are discriminated against politically. At least the Jews have been able to move to America where they now call the shots. That is why America can't bomb Israel, because the Jews call the shots.

3. What is the best thing about America?

(Thinks for a little while) Free immigration. Everyone can go there, and if you go there, if you work hard, keep your head down and don't cause any trouble, you can become a multimillionaire. If you cause trouble, then you really get the shit, but otherwise it is very free there.

4. What is the worst thing about America?

Of late I have been having a lot of anti-American views. The ugly Americans who want to be tops, who want to be number one, who want to be the police of the world no matter what. It is arrogance. They are very forceful in that they want to win no matter what. Then again, if it were not for the Americans the world today would be half Japanese and half German (he laughs).
You know, I feel I can talk to Americans but the American government is too arrogant. I think this arrogance comes from ignorance, ignorance of the countries it lords over, ignorance of the way things are done in the East.
For example, the IMF gives a loan and then tells us exactly what we have to do with it. In the East, problems are taken care of by the residents of a community, Here, a bank will give money and the community will do what's needed to be done. I think this is a big reason why the western system doesn't understand the East.


Older Brother

1. What is the best thing about Malaysia?

Malaysia is a very cosmopolitan country. We have tolerance of the races, of religions. It is safe, there is little crime. What the world has, we have the best of - various cultures, freedom of newspapers, good weather without harsh seasons, typhoons or earthquakes.

2. What is the worst thing about Malaysia?

(he has to think about this for a while) 20 years ago we had racial problems, quite a bit of violence, but now it is better. The government helps the Malay people but we (Chinese) are smarter, we have kept quiet and gone on in business. Now things are quiet because we keep the fire under the ground and things on the whole are good between the races. Malaysia is a good place today.

3. What is the best thing about America?

That's simple - freedom! Even if you are a baby, if you know you are right you can fight against the someone older. I think that America took it's British heritage and combined it with the frontier spirit to create a new tradition that was the best of both worlds. Look at Lincoln. While Europe had no sympathy for the Negro, he fought and lost many white lives for their freedom. America has a good sense of justice. It has righteousness.

4. What is the worst thing about America?

Too much freedom. The government has no way to control the people and they are becoming wild. Parents are no longer able to teach their children right from wrong because the children can take their parents to court. It's crazy! In the same way the US government cannot be a parent to it's children.

~ Nigel
04.15.02

   

 

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