Once there was only Malaya, North Borneo, and Sarawak. But then on 16 September 1963, Malaya, North Borneo (which was then renamed as Sabah), and Sarawak were joined together to establish the Malaysian federation, which is the beautiful country that we have now.
Prior to 2010, Malaysia Day (16 September) was only observed as a state public holiday in Sabah and Sarawak, but since 2010, Malaysia Day has been declared a nationwide public holiday.
For 60 years, Malaysia has been under the rule of one dominant party – UMNO. And after the revolutionary general election that changed Malaysian history forever on 9th May 2018, the people’s voices were heard, once again proving the statement ‘united we stand, divided we fall’. Thus, a new Malaysia was born.
We all live under one sky, we all grow up on one land (two if you want to be accurate), and this September, let us all come together to celebrate the one country that brought us all together.
In conjunction with Malaysia Day, IRL interviewed 6 different people from different backgrounds about what it feels like to be Malaysian in the new government. They shared with us about their hopes for a new Malaysia and how do they feel about living under the new government so far.
Anonymous (Kuala Lumpur) – Thought that things would improve but it seems like nothing much has changed.
“I am not really aware with the current political and economic situation, but I do wish for the government to be more involved with solving social cases. I know it seems as if social cases are a small branch while trying to run a country, but I still think that it’s an important matter.
“As with the recent uproar regarding child marriages, I was disappointed to see that there were some politicians who publicly supported it. Yet no actions were taken to reprimand these people. Regardless of how the Syariah law allows children under the age of 16 to be married with parental consent, I still think that it’s unfair to the child.
“There were lawyers and other politicians who were upset about it, yet, not a lot of politicians talk about these issues. I only saw a couple of articles and news reports about it. And a month later, the issue has been forgotten.
“The intersection between the Syariah law and the laws of this country shouldn’t be put as a reason to make child marriages okay.
“Not only that, I do hope the government could focus more on the environment as well. With global warming rising and developments in Malaysia increasing, I hope that the government could put in more effort to protect nature and make more nature-friendly spaces.
“Instead of urging more housing and shopping malls being built, the government could maybe focus on improving the environment instead of building more developments.
“In addition, instead of the new car project, I do hope that the PM could focus on something for the environment rather than another automotive project.”
Adzlynn (Family from Sabah but grew up in Perak) – Unrealistic to comment on the progress of the new party after only a few months in
“I always believed that a change was needed for this country to prosper and develop properly.
“I’m not sure if taking down a ruling party of over 50+ years was the change that we needed, but this country will remain stagnant and robbed of its potential if we were to sit still.
“I have yet to see or feel a drastic difference in the result of the election on an economic basis. The impact I experienced was not from the result but the election itself. I saw people flying from all over the world back to their motherland to vote, I saw people posting on Facebook asking strangers who were stranded at the airport if they needed a ride, disregarding gender, race, and religion.
“I felt united with the nation, for once. It felt liberating.
“As for the newly founded government, it has only been a couple of months so criticising their progress, or the lack thereof, is a bit unrealistic.
“Stability is the route to go. Many of the citizens, myself included, are anxious thinking about the future. Therefore, a little stability would reassure us and calm our worries.
“I am not sure of what particular steps the new government should take as I’m not well-versed in economics or politics. As for the newly implemented SST, to many of us citizen who are not educated in economics, it is basically similar to GST.
“Different procedure, same result.
“I was informed that GST was good for the economics in the long-run but I am not sure of about SST. I am fortunate enough that the SST charge won’t drastically change my lifestyle in an economical sense, but there are a lot of people who are burdened by it which stresses their anxious mind.”
Eunice (Kelantan) – Happy with the change, but would need to see further how things goes
“I personally found that the results are not surprising, since most people were unhappy. Change was long due, over issues like 1MDB and more.
“Also because of DAP combined with Keadilan, AMANAH, and PPBM, they could effectively attract votes. Moreover, Mahathir was also part of the reason they won in the recent election. As he was the past prime minister and had gained a certain reputation among the bumiputera community.
“Personally, there are a few issues the government would need to fix. Firstly, clearing out the UEC (Unified Examination Certificate) issues, most Muslims have many misunderstandings regarding UEC, and if they are trying to keep their promise, they will have to put in effort to put out accurate information regarding UEC.
“Secondly is regarding the new taxes. I found many voters were hoping for the removal of GST and not needing to pay taxes anymore. Voters lack the insight on the different types and purposes of taxes. More information regarding the importance of taxes, and the purposes of the taxes will need to be put out to educate the people.
“SST will definitely cause some deflation at the start, but we will have to look at the bigger picture. The main problem, in my opinion, is not on the taxes, but on how the government will be utilising the taxes to improve the country and invest in the right things to put the funds into the maximum effect.
“Lastly, the government needs to stop relying on imported goods and start to find our own source of stable income besides relying on petroleum and so on as it is highly replaceable. And without any new incomes and changes, we will very easily be outdated in the future.
“Personally, I am happy with the change, but I would need to see further how things goes. It’s actually choosing between two sides, which both have their own flaws, but it is amazing to have a change after more than 60 years.”
Anonymous (Johor) – Happy with the results
“I’m quite happy with the results!
“Before the election, I went to Taiwan, and my tour guide told me that if the people in our country are united, then Pakatan Harapan (PH) will win.
“And people in Malaysia had proven that, because we united to get our voices heard.
“In these four months, PH have worked hard to solve the problems created by the previous government. So, I hope that the people can understand how difficult it is for PH and try not to blame them and saying that PH did not do what they promised.
“Give our new government some time!”
Lisa (Sabah) – Turned over a new leaf or a villain in disguise?
“It is great that the country is not ruled by the previous dominant party anymore, but after three months under the new party, it seems like the prime minister is merely doing things to please the people and satisfy himself instead of looking at a bigger picture to better the country. There are bigger issues than having a new line of Proton cars and so on.
“Seems like everything that has been done so far is because the current PM is trying to repent for what he did before.
“True, the previous prime minister should pay for what he has done, whether he is innocent or not, under the rule of law, anyone is innocent until proven guilty.
“True, all the people involved in the 1MDB scandal should pay for what they have done, but is that the main thing that we should be focusing on right now?
“True, GST was ruining lives, but how is SST any better? I am not good with economics but I feel like prima facie, GST and SST are basically the same thing, therefore I will not make any more comments on this issue.
“As for the condition in where I live, Sabah, it is still the same basically. I know it is still early, with only 3 months in, but with so much changes seen in the West, maybe it is time they do something here. I saw that in the manifesto that there will be improvements for the condition of Sabah, and I will wait and see.
“Never forget that the problem with illegal immigrants in Sabah is done by our current prime minister. I would love to see how he intends to turn that around.”
Terence (Sarawak) – There is no new Malaysia if the voters’ mentality remains the same
“Asking about one’s views on the new Malaysia is like asking someone why USA is the greatest country in the world (refer to “The Newsroom”).
“USA is not the greatest country, there is no new Malaysia.
“The cabinet may be new, but at the end of the day, its quality is dictated by the quality of the voters.
“The cabinet changed overnight, but did the voters change?
“There is too much optimism around, it is good until the people are disappointed. To be honest, I feel nothing about living under the new government so far. In this short a time frame, any experience we have should only be attributed to idiosyncrasies on an individual level.
“With the change in regime, I really hope that people can engage in political discussions in a civil manner. Character assassination can only sustain passion for so long.
“As a working adult, I have been blessed with a white-collar job that rewards well. I know I cannot say the same for every single Malaysian, not even all my peers. The power dynamics between the employers and employees must change.
“Fresh graduates are brainwashed that they are not worth anything. Truth is, they generate much more value than RM 3000 per month, yet a clear majority of them are paid way less. Do employers not factor in the rising costs of living?
“Go read an economics textbook and understand the supply side of labour. Speaking of economics, it would really benefit everyone to have the regions outside of KL/ Selangor to be developed.
“Lastly, from my personal experience, much can be improved in terms of the empathy of the people. Been walking around with a knee and a back injury, people do not seem to care.
“This is disheartening.
“In conclusion, Malaysians would like to see more changes towards the country with this new ruling party. However, it is still early to decide whether the current Malaysia is a ‘new one’ or is ‘still the same one’ but with a different leader.”
For more articles on Malaysia, read 5 Things We Need to Do to Make a Better Malaysia, and 4 Merdeka Facts We Wish Our History Teacher Had Taught Us.