July 02, 2005

Malaysia 101

Excerpt from The Star 2nd July 2005

Eye-opening trip to US

WASHINGTON: Three Malaysian teenagers, who spent six months in small American towns, now have a kinder perception of the United States but blame the media for their negative portrayal of Muslim countries and America.

The three are among 30 Malaysian students who were selected to live and study in the US from January to June.

Guruparan Dharmalingam from Kuala Lumpur said media from both sides were to blame for the negative coverage, which had created hatred and fear.

Guruparan said he was shocked at the ignorance of Americans he met in Hueytown, Alabama.

“They don't know where Malaysia is, they have not heard about Islam, and they thought that I was an Iraqi.”

His classmates were impressed when he showed them pictures of Malaysia as “they thought we live in mud huts or on trees!”

For the benefit of any international viewers of this blog (especially Americans), here's a quick concise guide to what is MALAYSIA.

Location of Malaysia. Note that Malaysia is NOWHERE near Africa. Not to be confused with the country Mauritius or Malawi either.

View of Kuala Lumpur's (Malaysia's capital city) skyline at night.

OK..so the thing about us Malaysian living in mud huts and tress aren't entirely untrue. There are people here who lives at such places namely the Orang Asli (aboriginal people). Just as the Red Indians of North America, some Orang Asli retains the lifestyle of their forefathers. Put it this way, if us Malaysians are ignorant enough, we would have believed that Red Indians lives in some oversized ice cream cones. The Orang Asli here in Malaysia are colourful and unique, making them and the places where they stay a major tourist attraction.

It's understandable that not all Americans are ignorant of the facts of other countries around the world. After all, no one expects someone from Hueytown, Alabama to know such facts when there is no need to. Just as one wouldn't expect someone from say Grik (a town in Malaysia) to know about Burkina Faso (an actual country in Africa). The USA is a major power in the world; Malaysia is but a small player in the international scene and it's alright if someone from Alabama doesn't know about our existence. We shouldn't make a fuss about this apparent innocent ignorance but at the same time, both side would benefit from closer co-operation and more education. Here's my small part in helping to foster that.

Further Reads

1. Visit Malaysia
2. World Map & Facts
3. Malaysian Almanac


Dusty said...

I just stumbled on your post, through a link to it, on my blog - thanks to Links2Blogs. I feel as strongly about India as you do of Malaysia. On my blog you will also find a few travel stories on India.

Jim Beam said...

But in your case, India is very well known. Malaysia have had to struggle to gain even some slight recognition. It's harder for us although things improved under the leadership of our previous outspoken Prime Minister. Will check out your blog. :)

Zeppellina said...

Hi there,

I am from Scotland, UK, and we definately know where Malaysia is!
We have had the good fortune, for many years now, to have Malaysian students study at our Universities and Colleges.
I, myself, still stay in touch with Malaysian friends. I have, unfortunately never been there, but have seen so many photographs and slides of your beautiful country.
And it is a pretty high-tech country!!!
Also, most Scots have a love of India too, many still choosing India as a place they most want to travel to!
Don`t forget that a lot of Americans never leave their country to travel, and there is a percentage who are unaware of the geography of their own country, never mind anyone elses!!
Nice blog, good luck.

Jim Beam said...

Hi zep!

Nice of you to drop by. Malaysia should be quite well known in UK. Afterall, we were once a part of Britain's mighty empire. Hope you will have the chance to visit Malaysia soon.