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Malaysia Boleh......(tak boleh)? Print E-mail
Not Always Boleh  (by Marina Mahathir)

AS we reach our 46th birthday and cries of "Malaysia Boleh" ring out, we  should really reflect on this a bit. I am one of those who always find  these constant shouts of "Malaysia Boleh" a bit tiresome. Not to be a  spoilsport or anything, it's just that sometimes our focus on what we  boleh (can) seems rather shallow.

I have great admiration for Malaysians who can sail solo around the  world, climb Everest, explore Antarctica and brave the English Channel.  These are truly great feats and the glory achieved by them reflects on  us, and motivates others to try and do similar things. What I have some  problem with are the types of Malaysia Boleh feats that have to do with  creating the longest popiah, the most number of teh tarik pulls, the  most number of sticks of satay eaten, etc. No doubt everyone wants their  15 minutes of fame, but after that, what?
Will the person who ate the most number of durians ever be featured in  Hari Ini dalam Sejarah?

As we all scramble to get into some book of records for things we boleh do, I wonder if we ever reflect on the things we tak boleh (cannot) do? Here is a partial list, in no particular order:

We  tak boleh talk about many things because they  are deemed too sensitive for some unknown people's ears. Thus, there are so many things swept under the carpet now that we can hardly walk without tripping.

We tak boleh complain about how some people in authority behave.

We tak boleh show affection to our loved ones in public because some  people think it's obscene.

The women among us tak boleh feel safe in public because if something happens to us, it's always our fault.

We tak boleh be trusted to decide for ourselves whether a movie is good or bad.

We women tak boleh look at pictures of women's bodies in women's magazines; they have to be blacked out.
Young people tak boleh be given information about the many bad things that could happen to them even though this could save their lives.

Universities tak boleh be left with more women students because this may lead to a very empowered population of women. And what's more they may start demanding that women be given vice-chancellor posts!

We tak boleh ask why the authorities have some ruling or other because  then they may actually have to think of a good reason for them.

We tak boleh, tak boleh, tak boleh talk about religion even though  sometimes the implementation of religious rulings can make our lives miserable.

We tak boleh complain when cars are triple parked on Fridays because, hey, what is a human law when they're breaking it to commune with God?

We tak boleh be sure anything we do will be judged on its own merits; we must get some VIP to help us.

We tak boleh excel in many things, including sports, because someone will tell us why

we tak boleh do it (too difficult, not nice, not feminine, too much work, no money in it, etc).
 
We tak boleh point out the contradictions in our society because it's, well, embarrassing (like, how come we're so religious and so  superstitious at the same time?).

We tak boleh teach our kids to think because then they may ask us too many questions.

We tak boleh act as if we would like to think about things too, and then give our opinion.

We tak boleh trust our young people even though one day, whether we like it or not, they will take over the country (unless we turn them into clones of us of course).

We tak boleh deny the fact that Siti Nurhaliza is a lot more influential than most politicians (who else can sell out a lipstick by just mentioning it?). But then Siti tak boleh make our lives miserable.

We tak boleh talk back, unless we couch it in polite terms. Never mind that the person we want to talk back to has been very rude.

Every day it seems we are encouraged to do things to prove we are the best, biggest, brightest. But rarely are we ever encouraged to be thinking and compassionate human beings with opinions of our own, especially if those opinions are different from the norm. Are we to show Malaysia Boleh only in harmless non-threatening ways even though these often have no long-term benefit? Or should we really be challenging ourselves in our minds and hearts?


The Star (August 20, 2003
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