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Monday, 18 February 2008

Malaysia 2007. Year of the Tourism

I have started this blog, writing about our two trips to Malaysia. When we visited Kuala Lumpur, it felt as if whole Malaysia was a new country, young and dynamic, not the country of old Malay states of 19th century, governed from England, controlled by foreign beurocrats, ruled by rajahs and sultans, occupied by colonial masters. Malay of rubber plantations, the plantation owners sweltering in tropical heat, some unhappy, many alcoholic and brutal. Malay of Dayak tribe the head hunters, Murdu pirates, native gangs working on plantations and building roads, punished by their colonial masters for any slight lapses and mistakes. To their enormous credit, malaysians have emerged intact from the yoke of colonial rule of their country. They are neither arrogant nor servile. They are shy in front of strangers but shyness becomes people who are polite, good mannered.

If you have read W.S. Maugham's Outstation, you will know the snobbery and arrogance with which the English ruled in Malay and everywhere else. They ill-treated the natives, tolerated the chinese, considering them a necessary evil since they filled the coffers of treasury.The Malays and Dyaks were poor, they worked little and their needs were little. Later, when the chinese grew in numbers and their hold on the economy grew, British were unable to control their power. Today Malaysians resent the Chinese, whose ecomic power in the country is enormous.
Malaysians are eager to point out their tolerance and harmony with the country's indiginous population of Chinese and Indians. However, the recent events of protests and demonstrations by the indians, and their strong and valid complaints, shows that the present Islamic government does not care much about social integration or giving equal rights and opportunities to minorities living in the country for centuries. The Chinese have always formed a state within a state, with their own places of worship and their own codes of law. And they are rich and rich are always powerful.

Our tour guide in Penang was complaining about the hesitation of european tourists to visit his country, who in his view were biased, who wrongly believe that Malaysia is a muslim country, with men in long gowns and with shaggy beards and women covered head to food in burkas. That Malaysias are extremists who are not tolerant of other communities.
However, it is not so and I am sure that westerners like Malaysia and Malaysians.

We found Malaysians graceful, well dressed, helpful and hospitable. The country is clean, well connected with roads and highways. New and modern buildings and commercial centres. The economy is booming. Hotels rates are reasonable, transport is regular and cheap. So are restaurants, with friendly staff, and delicious food. Beautiful islands and wonderful beaches. What more would a tourist or a visitor want? Thank you Malaysia for being a tourist friendly country. May more and more western visitors choose your country for their holidays.
Posted by Island Hopper at 06:31

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