I am neither proud nor ashamed to be Malaysian. I believe that while there are many things that can be improved, I find this country adequate.
I have pushed the envelop of my industry, and others' far enough to know that things can be done, are being done or will be done soon.
When I was younger, my dream was to go to the States. I wanted to get that Petronas scholarship, use whatever means necessary and available to me, and leave the country forever.
That moment came. I was 16. Out of 12 candidates in my round of group interviews, I had their attention. It was Petronas or Telekom. I think it was Telekom. So, in front of a board of Telekom interviewers, I was there, sensing that this could change the course of my life.
Merely sensing, because I had no information I could use. There was hardly any briefing - just that some people from a big company wanted to see a bunch of us. They sat there, looking over our academic records. I knew mine wasn't spotless. I excelled in the languages and maths, but my chemistry scores sucked. So were my test results for physics and additional maths.
Long story short, everyone spoke in BM. I knew that if I wanted to impress these people, I needed to bring out my English and American accent, which I have gleaned from watching years of TV.
But everyone else spoke BM. And so I did too.
Yes, I did not get the scholarship I wanted, didn't leave the country - in fact, I have never left South East Asia. But if I did, I do not think I would be here right now. And I don't think I would have preferred another life. Not really.
It was 2003 and the system I built for a year was chosen for an IT convention in Portugal. I went to my lecturer's room to tell her that I was not going.
"What are you going to do?" she asked.
"I'm going to be a writer," I told her.
She shook her head, almost imperceptibly, and sent me on my way.
I worked as a cashier in a pharmacy for a few months, pissing off my boss because I spoke to Japanese customers in Japanese, and that I read books when there was nothing to be done.
I ate rice and fried eggs for six months, a downgrade from my halcyon days as a student when I ate roti canai.
Meanwhile, some of the smarter friends studied mechanical engineering in Germany or chemical engineering in the States. And fucking foreign chicks.
I was still here. I am still here.
I do not hate this country. I learned more about people and communication because the country is uniquely so. I have also worked with people from outside the region. White people, black people, and I have come to the conclusion that people are simply people. They are the same everywhere, with the same fuck-ups and fears.
People talk a great deal about systems. How America has the best system and values in the world. So much so, that when banks got the police to chase people out of their homes in the States, they are still the greatest country on earth.
Some people say Malaysians are stupid. I say Malaysians are stupid. But so are everyone in the world.
It is not the values or the systems that make a country. It is the people. Laws are just rules people decide to obey. Money is an honour system we choose to obey. Without our obedience, without following whatever system we ourselves put in place, there is no country. There are no countries. No borders. No rules. No order.
I subscribe to anarchy, which only means without leaders, not without order. I distrust any individual who wants to lead. Leading is an immense responsibility and no true leader wants that responsibility. Because it is always your fault.