Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kuala Lumpur in the eyes of a famous first time visitor

Saya sentiasa percaya bahawa untuk menilai sesuatu peristiwa, atau tempat, atau apapun, pendapat orang luar yang tidak ada sangkut paut dengan peristiwa atau tempat tersebut amat bernilai. Ini kerana hanya dari pandangan orang luar sahajalah orang yang di dalam, yang terlibat sepenuhnya dengan 'subject matter' dapat menilai 'subject matter' dengan lebih baik, lalu membaiki kesalahan atau kelemahan yang ada.

Maka itulah juga, apabila membaca tentang bandaraya kita Kuala Lumpur, saya lebih terjua utk membaca pendapat orang asing. Dan saya masih ingat antara tulisan yang paling memberi kesan kepada saya ialah dari antara penulis web yang paling saya ikuti - Justin Raimondo yang menulis di Antiwar.com.


Berikut saya sertakan kembali tulisan beliau - semoga ia dapat memberi manfaat kepada pembaca. Terimakasih.

Christmas in Malaysia
by Justin Raimondo, December 24, 2005

To say that Malaysia is not what I imagined would be an understatement of epic proportions. Situated just south of Thailand, north of Indonesia, and quite close to the equator, the country describes itself as officially “Islamic,” and this, at least in the minds of most Americans, means a stultifying uniformity, a monolithic apparatus of cultural and all too often political repression. It means women in burqas, gay people in hiding, and a society generally groaning under the weight of an enormous repression. Therefore, when I was invited to attend the Perdana Global Peace Forum as a speaker, I was somewhat hesitant, to say the least: did I really want to venture forth into such a forbidding landscape? So my initial answer was “no.” But after doing a little research, and in response to the urgings of Antiwar.com’s webmaster, Eric Garris, I reconsidered. What, I reasoned, could possibly happen to me? After all, I had lived in that most dangerous and forbidding realm, the New York City of pre-Giuliani days, where you were just as likely to be mugged as anything else, and in broad daylight, too. Yet I had lived to tell the tale. So, I thought, what the heck – why not?

I am now well into my second week of staying in Kuala Lumpur, at the fabulous Crowne Plaza Hotel, and it is clearer than ever that my prejudices were not only mistaken – they were and are the exact opposite of the truth. Malaysia is the virtual incarnation of religious and ethnic diversity, a veritable melting pot of racial and devotional groups that somehow manage to live in relative harmony far beyond anything I have seen even in that paradigmatic paragon of multiculturalism, California. Malays, Chinese, Indians, Arabs, and a generous smattering of Anglo expats swarm the streets of Kuala Lumpur, the biggest city in the country: yes, there is a Muslim majority, but non-Muslims are not subject to sharia law. Malay Muslims coexist with Chinese Catholics, and Buddhist priests roam the Bukhit Bintang plaza, begging, amidst crowds shopping for the latest fashions and punk rockers with pink hair stroll fearlessly down the street.

You never saw such diversity. And that’s just during the daytime. At night…

I’m getting ahead of myself. Of course, I didn’t come here for the nightlife: I came for the Perdana Peace Forum, which was favored with an impressive array of speakers: former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke, British MP George Galloway, former UN assistant secretary-general Denis Halliday, Pakistan-born Britain-based writer and filmmaker Tariq Ali, former UN assistant secretary-general Hans von Sponeck, Daniel Ellsberg, and anti-nuclear-arms activist and writer Helen Caldicott. Representing the Malaysians were former prime minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

I had some concerns about former Prime Minister Mahathir, but then I read this Paul Krugman column and my fears were somewhat allayed. Upon meeting Dr. Mahathir, whatever reservations remained were put completely to rest: the man seems to emanate benevolence and great gentleness, almost an aura of serenity, like some sort of Buddhist guru.

Another concern was the appearance of any connection to a government entity: Antiwar.com does not accept money from any governmental source, nor do we affiliate ourselves with the activities of any government. Only after receiving assurances that not a penny of Malaysian government money was going into the conference did we agree to attend. The conference was, indeed, a model of private enterprise in action, with corporate contributions from Ambank Group, Berjaya Corporation Bhd, Country Heights Holdings Bhd, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd, Malayan Banking Bhd, Multi-Purpose Holdings Bhd, Sri Inderajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd, the Sunway Group, and the Sapura Group of Companies. Nestle and Dell Computers were also among the corporate sponsors.

At any rate, the conference was… amazing. Literally thousands of ordinary Malaysians heard the speakers and then divided into discussion groups. Around a third to a half were young people, and their questions and comments provided an illuminating glimpse into the minds of non-Americans, who look on America with great affection and respect and yet object to the actions of the American government.

Eric Garris has gone into the incident involving Zimbabwe’s dictator Robert Mugabe, who suddenly showed up uninvited, so I won’t go into too many of the details. Suffice to say that I made a point of working a denunciation of Mugabe’s thuggery into my speech, an event that seemed to catalyze general opposition to his presence. An event at which Mugabe was supposed to speak was canceled, and, in answer to inquiries about Mugabe’s presence, Dr. Mahathir remarked: “Everybody can attend. If he wants to say how good it is to be a dictator, he can.”

I have to say that there was none of the crude anti-Americanism at the conference that one has – sadly – come to expect at gatherings of antiwar activists. Eric and I made a point of linking the cause of peace to the cause of free markets at every opportunity, a viewpoint that was especially appreciated by the conference organizers.

I have to say that I am… astonished by Malaysia. Here is an “Islamic” country where a gigantic Christmas tree sits in the lobby of the hotel I’m staying at, and the cafĂ© waiters in the plaza a few blocks away are dressed like Santa’s elves. Here is a city where the nightlife puts San Francisco’s to shame. Where the city’s oldest gay bar, the Blue Boy, makes Baghdad-by-the-Bay seem like a dive in Podunk, Idaho; where people party well into the morning light, and you can have a good time for a few ringgits (the Malay currency: around 30 cents). The food is fabulous: Malay (spicy, somewhat Thai-like), Arab (there’s a great place right off Bukhit Bintang), Chinese (you haven’t lived until you’ve sampled the pleasures of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown), and too many more to go into here. The place is a gastrointestinal paradise!

Modernity is juxtaposed next to traditionalism: on the one hand you have the soaring heights of the Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest buildings in the world, lit up like a vision of futurity against the night sky, and on the other hand you have women in traditional dress – colorful costumes of bright color and the requisite head covering – traversing its corridors. Two, three, many worlds coexisting: the past and the future converging into a new synthesis of creativity and entrepreneurial energy. The impression one gets is of a tremendous vitality, a restless yet directed life-force that seems to spring right out of the earth.

A final note: nowhere have I experienced more genuine warmth and such a feeling of welcome. When you come to Kuala Lumpur, you are made to feel very special. The gentleness and politeness of these people is a phenomenon that doesn’t exist, to my knowledge, anywhere in the U.S. Malays are generally puzzled by the actions of the U.S. government abroad, and do not support the war in Iraq: but they love America, the country, and show great admiration and respect for the American people. And that is the kind of “anti-Americanism” that I can live with.

2 comments:


  1. Saya ingin berbagi cerita kepada anda bahwa saya ini IBU PUSPITA seorang TKI dari malaysia dan secara tidak sengaja saya buka internet dan saya melihat komentar ibu hayati yg dari honkong tentan MBAH KABOIREN yg telah membantu dia menjadi sukses dan akhirnya juga saya mencoba menghubungi beliau dan alhamdulillah beliau mau membantu saya untuk memberikan nomor toto 6D dan alhamdulillah itu betul-betul terbukti tembus,kini saya sangat berterimakasih banyak kepada MBAH KABOIRENG dan jika anda ingin seperti saya silahkan hubungi MBAH KABOIRENG di 085-260-482-111,saya juga tidak lupa mengucap syukur kepada ALLAH karna melalui MBAH KABOIRENG saya juga sudah bisa sesukses ini dan jangan mudah percaya kepada MBAH yg lain selain MBAH KABOIRENG karna saya juga pernah mengalami yg namanya dibohongin sama para normal yg lain,ini bukan rekayasa dari saya melainkan ini kisah nyata dari seorang TKI,jangan ada percaya klau ada yg memakai pesan ini klau bukan atas nama saya krna itu cuma bohan dan ini resmi saya yg menulis.Untuk yg punya rum erimakasih atas tumpangannya. KLIK _ GHOB _ 2D 3D _ 4D _ 6D _ DISINI












    Saya ingin berbagi cerita kepada anda bahwa saya ini IBU PUSPITA seorang TKI dari malaysia dan secara tidak sengaja saya buka internet dan saya melihat komentar ibu hayati yg dari honkong tentan MBAH KABOIREN yg telah membantu dia menjadi sukses dan akhirnya juga saya mencoba menghubungi beliau dan alhamdulillah beliau mau membantu saya untuk memberikan nomor toto 6D dan alhamdulillah itu betul-betul terbukti tembus,kini saya sangat berterimakasih banyak kepada MBAH KABOIRENG dan jika anda ingin seperti saya silahkan hubungi MBAH KABOIRENG di 085-260-482-111,saya juga tidak lupa mengucap syukur kepada ALLAH karna melalui MBAH KABOIRENG saya juga sudah bisa sesukses ini dan jangan mudah percaya kepada MBAH yg lain selain MBAH KABOIRENG karna saya juga pernah mengalami yg namanya dibohongin sama para normal yg lain,ini bukan rekayasa dari saya melainkan ini kisah nyata dari seorang TKI,janan ada percaya klau ada yg memakai pesan ini klau bukan atas nama saya krna itu cuma bohon dan ini resmi saya yg menulis.Untuk yg punya rum erimakasih atas tumpangannya. KLIK _ GHOB _ 2D 3D _ 4D _ 6D _ DISINI

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  2. Ass...saya tidak menyanka kalau saya sudah bisa sesukses ini dan ini semua berkat bantuan MBAH RAWA GUMPALA,saya yang dulunya bukan siapa-siapa bahkan saya juga selalu dihina orang dan alhamdulillah kini sekaran saya sudah punya segalanya,itu semua atas bantuan beliau.Saya sangat berterimakasih banyak kepada MBAH RAWA GUMPALA atas bantuan nomor dan dana ghaibnya,alhamdulillah kini saya sudah bisa membuka usaha kembali yang dulunya pakum karna masalah faktor ekonomi dan kini kami sekeluarga sudah sangat serba berkecukupan dan tidak pernah lagi hutang sana sini,,bagi anda yang punya masalah keuangan jangan sungkan-sungkan untuk menhubungi MBAH RAWA GUMPALA karna insya allah beliau akan membantu semua masalah anda dan baru kali ini juga saya mendaptkan para normal yang sangat hebat dan benar-benar terbukti nyata,ini bukan hanya sekedar cerita tapi inilah kisah nyata yang benar-benar nyata dari saya dan bagi anda yg ingin seperti saya silahkan hubungi saja MBAH RAWA GUMPALA di 085==316==106==111




    (((( BUKA BLO DANA GHAIB DAN NOMOR GHAIB MBAH RAWA GUMPALA ))))







    Ass...saya tidak menyanka kalau saya sudah bisa sesukses ini dan ini semua berkat bantuan MBAH RAWA GUMPALA,saya yang dulunya bukan siapa-siapa bahkan saya juga selalu dihina orang dan alhamdulillah kini sekaran saya sudah punya segalanya,itu semua atas bantuan beliau.Saya sangat berterimakasih banyak kepada MBAH RAWA GUMPALA atas bantuan nomor dan dana ghaibnya,alhamdulillah kini saya sudah bisa membuka usaha kembali yang dulunya pakum karna masalah faktor ekonomi dan kini kami sekeluarga sudah sangat serba berkecukupan dan tidak pernah lagi hutang sana sini,,bagi anda yang punya masalah keuangan jangan sungkan-sungkan untuk menhubungi MBAH RAWA GUMPALA karna insya allah beliau akan membantu semua masalah anda dan baru kali ini juga saya mendaptkan para normal yang sangat hebat dan benar-benar terbukti nyata,ini bukan hanya sekedar cerita tapi inilah kisah nyata yang benar-benar nyata dari saya dan bagi anda yg ingin seperti saya silahkan hubungi saja MBAH RAWA GUMPALA di 085==316==106==111

    ReplyDelete