What is Malaysia?

A colleague of mine asked me a while ago, how could I possibly love Malaysia? In return I asked my colleague what is the definition of Malaysia and therein lay the difference between us. To me, Malaysia is not a country but a nation. While it is very difficult to fall in love with a country, it is very easy to fall in love with a nation.

Our nation is not bound by Thailand to the north, Singapore to the south and Indonesia to our west and east. Our nation is not 330 square kilometers. Our nation does not consist of 28 million people, which are made up of 54% Malay, 25% Chinese, 7.5% Indian, 11.8% other Bumiputra and 0.7% of dan lain-lain. All these things make up our country, Malaysia, and even I would find it hard-pressed to love these things.

However, our nation is another matter altogether. Actually, anyone can fall in love with a nation. A nation is bound by a common language. A nation is constructed around a common history. A nation possesses a shared culture. A nation has its own set of ideals and ideals are extremely easy to love. I think that this difference in definition sometimes catches us. People can mean many different things when they use the word “Malaysia”.

Alright, I am not crazy. Some people may think that I am an idealist or a romantic. I am probably guilty of both. However, let us just be clear that when I claim to love Malaysia, I mean the nation and not the country.

Published by

Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered/Professional Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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