Malaysia, despite being known globally is typically still referred to or remembered as a place where people live on trees or that is poor in the west. Well they aren’t wrong on the 2nd bit. Despite gaining independence more than half a century ago, the country still fails to perform well to bring itself to global standards. Although one would point to Brunei and Singapore to being better, they are different cases that gave them a good head start but Singapore did crack down hard on the problems that plagued Malaysian minds to this day.
One of the shows I enjoyed watching in the past was western sci fi like star trek which unlike any of the recent ones strongly questioned society and morality while showing the constant strive to improve. Sadly we don’t live in such a society where wealth isn’t a measure of status, success or is of any importance. Such TV shows aren’t liked in Malaysia and is one of the factors that helped guide the younger generation in The west of the time.
I have the unfortunate ability to predict the future. Having the opportunity to go to a decent university but also knowing it won’t make a difference. I mean where am I at? A minimum wage job coding and making websites unable to make ends meet and afford the most basic necessities to continue advancing my career. I tried to warn my family long before that this would be the result but they claimed numbers and various other factors are better here. For instance, you might think the pre covid average wage to show strong performance, but the less than half median wage tells the true story. Now i am stuck in a low wage job unable to exit without the time or tools to better myself in a work place that’s against building up their employees. I don’t think I’d even be able to afford to keep my website up another year.
Our stand in prime minister however noted the lack of IT/technology as being the reason behind poor performance that’s not really the case. We get technology from innovation, which is lacking here. The mindset and culture of Malaysians prevent innovation and forward thinking, while the law doesn’t even help.
Many countries aren’t like the US, which can make blunder after blunder and still be ahead because of their corruption, but Malaysia loves to copy the US even the bad, from the lack of acknowledgement that others exist and are equal to law which has also bitten Malaysia back (incident involving US banning good quality gloves because its an industrial threat caused the factory to shut down here and jobs lost).
Like Americans, many Malaysians think little of others but with a lot less independent thinking. With a lotnof conservatism on the past and culture comes a huge culture of abuse and let abuse where free thinking and action is punished inhibiting innovation and efficiency improvements to happen which like Japan was able to grow fast despite the huge setback it suffered after the war. With a lack of consideration of others, abuse is considered the norm in Malaysia. Even common courtesy like indicating on the road, respecting the right of way, cutting queues, not queuing properly and so on isn’t practiced leading to many accidents. Loss of life and injury mean a loss of manpower.
To take the recent actions for covid, even nations that have pubs as culture are fine locking down with curfews and adapting to the business needs to survive at the time of pandemic while pubs in Malaysia complain if having to close during their normal hours of after midnight operations. Working from home is avoided over here because businesses do not want to try and change the way they work just so more people can survive without a drop in the economy. Premium hospitals charge you 5x for simple things like tissue and can’t even give you appointments within your time of convenience. The problem with culture in Malaysia is so strong that not even death can change it. Even if said culture is harmful including perception and judgement of others when its not your place to judge, happens so much and is the difference between getting hired or not, a good life or not even opportunities where looks apparently matter more than substance.
To give an example of just how bad it is, I spotted an item I recognise well on the shelf of a regular grocery store. Of the items were jam, from US, UK and Malaysia. Jam from US cost double from Malaysian jam and packed with processed sugar. Malaysian jam however sells for half the american jam but is packed with chemicals and artificial ingredients. Jam from UK is priced the same as Malaysia while having only the minimal ingredients needed with very little to no artificial ingredients or chemicals. The fact that a product from an expensive first world is priced the same as a local product despite the salaries being take the £ and replace with RM, for a basic product to be 5x more locally packed with unnecessary ingredients shows just how bad the problem is. Its not like the employees of said brand get paid a lot more either but are paid way less.
The problem of greed and corruption at the expense of others, very low morality and a culture that expects you to fall in line then speak for mind prohibit the country from doing better and entering a high income state as the lack of IT and innovation is the result of poor mindset, not the lack of IT that causes the productivity and efficiency to be low as in order to utilise any tool effectively one must know the work that tool is used for. We’ve had advanced infrastructure and IT in Malaysia for decades, but we lack the willingness, mind and direction to be able to use the tool to its potential. As an example, I got muted by the local developer community for pointing out how the use of software frameworks are more harmful than good, due to encouraging bad developer practices of ignorance and taking the easy way rather than the proper way. This is where the west differs in approach where work must be done properly and up to standards. The construction industry in Malaysia is a big example of this problematic mindset. Instead of meaningful construction projects, decent salaries and worker treatments, buildings are erected with the highest price and profit possible using the cheapest materials, methods and labour that the buildings start to fail after 2 years but decide to cost more than a house in the UK.
Recently in the news the lack of local councils to maintain infrastructure has claimed lives on the road. Even though motorcyclists in Malaysia tend to drive horribly, but its also the duty of authorities to perform the duties they are paid for from taxes by ensuring things like roads are free from holes and debris, ISPs freely allowed to lay cable without having to line someone’s pocket first, or citizens having to use own money to perform said duties when they already are paying taxes for it.
In summary the lack of allowed independent thought and actions, consideration of others as equal to ones self breeds greed and corruption on so many levels of society, with the median vs average telling a lot even comparing to Singapore, US and UK revealing just how uneven wealth is, with the middle income being very poor in a world where prices are global. Just imagine living on $500 a month, or £400 a month in the US or UK respectively, that’s just how bad it is. Even in times of pandemic with the freedom to operate but with guidelines, no one follows them showing a lack of care for others. No changes are done to improve and adapt to prevent the spread. Malaysians do not think that if they catch the virus and spread it to a random stranger, and that stranger dies or goes bankrupt from treatment that it isn’t their responsibility. One secret I can tell from a religious perspective from how the supernatural decides if someone is guilty, if the 1% is the problem, and no one solves it be it corruption, poverty, etc, the other 99% are considered to be just as guilty and punished the same way. Consider this the next time you decide to use conservatism, culture or religion to dictate your action.