Anyone closely following the lead up to the US presidential election will realise that this campaign is centred less on truth and more about ratings.
I’m not exactly sure when the viewing public signed up to what seems more of a 6-month reality TV show about larger than life personalities, though I do sense it represents a clear indication of the state of play when it comes to media portrayal of important events that play on the psychology of mass audience.
This observation is as much directed at the key protagonists Trump (king of shock tactics) and Clinton (who no doubt relishes her role as voice of reason) as it is the media platforms themselves, who will clearly capitalise enormously on the staggering traffic levels their viewing platforms will generate.
So why am I stating the obvious?
Bringing this situation to bear on home turf, I am nothing short of perplexed as to the way in which Malaysia’s outlook seems to be dogged by some of the more negative developments of the past 5 years. As a reader of UK papers, I can share this is not simply based on journalistic coverage here – it seems to be a wider issue in terms of the way this country is reported on. I am confident that, again, this can be quite simply explained – the viewing public are more susceptible to shockingly bad news (see Trump), than the rosier picture that, in my humble view, is the reality of the state of play in this country.
How can I put this more clearly – Malaysia is quite simply, a fantastic country. Coming up to my third year here as an ex-pat, I do feel qualified to make this kind of assertion and I feel strongly that it’s an important one. Malaysia has an exceptional combination of factors that make this place uniquely brilliant from a cultural and economic perspective and at the moment, the reality massively outstrips perception. So the fundamental factors are in place for a very bright future for Malaysia, but what we could all do with is an adjustment of the lens through which this country seems to be observed.
After all, whilst reality and perception are often different, they are certainly not mutually exclusive.
This may be more the preserve of the Malaysia Tourist Board, but let me share with you what I feel are the most stand out qualities for me above this country – factors I might add remained muffled by the white noise of negativity:
Let’s start with some socio-cultural factors:
- Malaysia is a triumph of cultural cohesion – see Muslim, Chinese and Indian national holidays – where in the world do we see that?
- Kuala Lumpur is the 11th most international city in the world by population – this means KL has a larger ex-pat population by proportion than Brussels and LA.
What about Malaysia as a place to live:
- Malaysia manages to preserve its cultural heritage, yet is extremely accommodating to ex-pats as a gateway to the East – English is the main business language;
- Outstanding quality and range of accommodation and reasonably priced – some beautiful enclaves depending on whatever your personal tastes might be
- Malaysia boasts outstanding medical services and a range of some of the best education institutions available
And what about economic outlook?
- Malaysia is one of the fast growing economies in Asia and the most consistent – 4% annual GDP is the run rate
- Malaysia is also one of the fastest growing job markets in Asia with massive growth across infrastructure & engineering, finance, technology & digital and financial services.
- Rather than slowing down, more international businesses are looking to come here based on favourable regulatory and economic factors, cost and depth of talent
- Malaysia is opening up – the Trans Pacific Agreement which means Malaysia no longer seeks to inhibit foreign companies competing here will continue to drive competition positively
- I expect the KL-Singapore train line will have a very positive impact here – finally we achieve a breakthrough on this…
Malaysia is stunning:
- Have you seen KL from the top of one of the skyscrapers here? Do so!
- Whether you like mountain tops, jungle with phenomenal bio-diversity or tropical beaches flanked with coral and shoals of fish of all colours, you don’t need to leave Malaysia for holiday. It’s all here.
I’ll leave it there for now. I expect to receive responses to this blog that I’m not presenting things in their full context and that there are many issues that are more pressing in this country of a darker kind. To that extent, I almost feel self-conscious writing such a ‘jingoist’ article about why this country should be so proud and optimistic.
But why is that? Since when did it become shameful and gushy to express positive things about something so important? My honest view is that this has alot to do with the way our impulses are programmed to seek out the negative and base our actions on this. There’s probably something self-protecting in this in terms of being prepared for the worst should the tides change against us and of course, given many calamitous events over the last decade across the world, there is merit to this.
That said, surely it’s important to also know when you are carrying a winning hand and make the most of it and dare I say, celebrate it to some extent.
by Sam Baxendale