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Living in Malaysia

Over the past three weeks, I have been reflecting on what the future holds for the family. It's probably a phase many parents went through and I am no exception. This is the phase, during quiet moments when the baby was asleep, snoring peacefully, that each parent thought about what kind of life this baby will lead in the future. And I thought about what I can do to provide. And as I go through all the areas, which I will probably discuss in detail later, I become helpless. The future doesn't look that good. At least in Malaysia. And then I realize why we have so many friends/people leaving the country.

First and foremost is education. Most parents would enrolled their children in Chinese school. I think there is no doubt in that. The state of our Kebangsaan school is in a shambles. I could attest to it as I reflect all the 'buat kerja sendiri' periods we had. And the blank faces of our teachers when we asked them questions that are out of the norm. And that was at a time when our teacher and education quality was higher. I cannot imagine what it is now, what with the English in Science and Maths subject and then not anymore and then yes again. And I also heard that the government is even rewriting history - Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat is not in the history books anymore! If this is the state of the education in Malaysia, how well would our children be equipped in the future? Do we really need to resort to 'tuition centers' to be the source of education?

And even if the children manage to pass and score reasonably well in the exams (notice I said reasonably well as I am not a proponent of the "always must be number one in class" type of parent), what happens then? Do you think they will get a place in the local Uni? I don't think so. While the government claims that there is meritocracy in placement, this is not happening. If a top student could be by-pass in the selection, what will happen to a reasonably well scored student? We are competiting, not on merits, but on birth rights and it is a losing battle. I have lost when I was in Form 6. My children will too. And so will theirs.

So what do we end up doing? We send our children overseas. And this comes with great cost, monetary as well as opportunity cost to us as parents. As parents, we definitely will do everything we can to create this opportunity for our children. But what if we can't? What if we lost our job or we are not able to save enough to send the children to an oversea education due to the rising inflation? And remember that our currency is weakened by the day. The exchange rate is already not favourable to you now. What makes me think they will be 20 years later when little sen is ready for overseas education. Did we then leave it to fate? Did we just destroy that chance?

Secondly, inflation - seriously - at the rate things are going, our children will not be able to afford an apartment when they leave school and come out to work. I once remember reading Tony Pua's blog and he said that the so called condensed milk that we buy from Jusco is not even milk. They are called sweetened creamer. That means, they are not produced from the tits of the cows. Why is this so? Because dairy products are control products and the government had a price cap on it. So the manufacturers are not able to sustain it and as such, they created sweetened creamer as a substitute. And our government then accepted that as a dairy product. If we are serious about controlled produce, we should not even accept the creamer as a substitute, So it is all a farce - sure it's a small matter you say, but think about the implications. I am just using condensed milk as example of our serious our inflation is undermining our quality of life. The condensed milk example was something that happened 10 years ago. These days, we have petrol losing subsidy, price of cooking oil and sugar rising, our teh ais is now RM2/glass, an almost 100% increased in the last 10 years. Food is getting expensive. And what do we end up with? Cheaper alternatives.

We are getting better jobs and better pay than our father. But the quality of our lives doesn't improve as much. It negates the better pay that we were getting. In fact, I dare say that the better pay is also a farce - we are not getting a better life at all. If anything, we are stagnant, not improving.

Just like the quality of life is a psychological veil to mask the reality, traffic is also getting worse. We have better roads than our forefathers. Our roads are wider. But yet, we are stuck longer in traffic trying to get to work. Our productivity did not improve. Our quality of life did not improve. We missed meetings and appointments due to traffic. We have LRT, KTM and monorail but they are not effective. We have BMW and Mercedes but they are crawling instead of zooming at their top speed. And just like the better pay thus better life being a farce, our better roads and better cars are an illusion that we have progress, when indeed we are not. We are still stuck in Ice Age in our traffic management. And you know what's funny? The funny thing is, we pay for a better highway (via toll), we get trapped in jam and we all just sucked it down and accept it as a way of life. So 39 years of my life and traffic has not improved. What does the future hold for the children? Ice Age 2?

Let's not even venture into politics and stability. I have stopped reading our newspapers. I hid myself under my own political ignorance. I want to base my children future on what I experienced in life, not something I read and participate over teh tarik. So, I am not even going to talk about politics. When my friends speak of politics, I will change subject. Because there is just no point in this. I don't even want to know how our government flaunt our hard earned money on unnecessary projects that doesn't improve the quality of life of the citizens - all they do is improve the size of the politicians' pocket.

Point number 4, is public safety. Who feels safe living in KL/PJ? Who lives in fear daily? Just last week, a member of my Buddhist society, a 80 year old grandma, was a victim of snatch thief in Tesco Mutiara Damansara. Fortunately, she wasn't hurt. Just think about it. This incident happened to someone I know in a place 5km from where I live and work. Goodness, I wonder why are we accepting this and why is there no public outcry to our government to do something about it. When our government, under Badawi, did do something which he publicly talks about - he sent high tech gadgets and build more police stations but didn't increase the number of police officers. Did you notice that are many so called police stations mushrooming in shop lots around PJ area? It's really a joke. We have better gadgets and empty stations but no body to use them. Why do we do build it then? Of course, it's an infrastructure projects and that also means more money to the politicians. I will have two daughters and a wife. Honestly I worry for their safety every day. If I don't do anything, I will continue to worry for the rest of my life.

So what do people normally do? They moved to gated community and further hid themselves in the illusion that they are safe. Is this the trend? Are we giving and building illusion for our children in the next 20, 30, 40 years?

It's getting  ridiculous! We have to fend ourselves by hiring our own security house to guard the Taman we live in. We have to pay for our children's overseas education. We pay high price for low quality products especially food. We have to waste our precious time going places. And the most ridiculous of all - we still have to pay 27% income tax to a governement who spent them mindlessly - not for the betterment of the society but for the betterment of their own personal lives.

There's so much more to say. I just want to stop lying to myself. I don't want to live in an illusion. I want to belief but things around me as well as what our governements are doing are not helping me in my beliefs. In fact, they are going all out to show me that there is no point in this fight, that it is a losing battle.

I will speak more in future posts.


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