• Jessica Quek

Malaysia - Through A Different Lens

Being born and brought up in Malaysia, sometimes it’s easy for us to overlook certain privileges that we have. Things as simple as being able to leave our houses without much concern, job security, and the luxury of Wifi. Back in 1963, our ancestors spared no expense celebrating Malaysia Day. The deep rooted desire of having a united nation was in the hearts of all Malaysians at that point in time. As it is today.

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Malaysia Day this year is a tad of an emotional one. In fact, 2020 as a whole has been a roller coaster so far. It has come to the point where we each define ourselves by which political spectrum we stand with, the social classes we belong in, or as much as we hate to say it, what race we are. The overload of information that we feed ourselves daily has clouded our minds with fear and anxiety of what’s to come.

With all that has happened this year, we understand that it may be hard to keep a positive outlook on what will happen within the next few months, especially with Malaysia Day approaching. Therefore, we wanted to keep it simple by looking at Malaysia through a different lens. The reason behind why we in Nuffnang decided to explore this angle is because it’s easy for Malaysians to look at the bad instead of the good, criticizing whether or not we have done enough as citizens of Malaysia. Similar to individual experiences, it is almost automatic for us to over analyse our decisions and sometimes we need people on the outside to look in and point out what we have done right. Hence why, we gathered a few refugees residing in Malaysia, to voice out their genuine thoughts about this country. Here’s what they had to say:

Refugee in Malaysia - Asma, Iraq, 16 years old

“Malaysia is my second home. I've been here for 7 years and everyone has been so nice. We feel safe here. Some people understand what it is like to be a refugee while some people don't. Despite that, I've never been told to go back to my own country or any of that. I'm just so happy to be a refugee in Malaysia. As refugees we really appreciate everything they are doing for us by just letting us in this country is something so nice and we are thankful for that. We are refugees, yes, but that doesn't mean we only take from people. We also give, and we love helping others. Thank you Malaysia so much for everything!! Happy Malaysia Day to my second home!⁦❤️⁩⁦❤️⁩”

Refugee in Malaysia - Fatma, Somali, 15 years old

Malaysia provides a sweet feeling. You feel safe. Malaysia means a lot to me. In Malaysia, I found love around me and I wish this country goodness always and forever. Happy Malaysia Day to all 🇲🇾🇲🇾”

Refugee in Malaysia - Mohammad Sultani, Afghanistan, 20 years old

"I came to Malaysia 6 years ago, when I was 14 years old.

As time passed, I grew up and so did my obstacles as a refugee living in this country. Despite all the challenges that exist to refugees, I am in love with Malaysia's green nature, diverse culture, and delicious foods."

Adeeb, Syria, 27 years old

"Malaysia became my first home. It’s rich in culture and has amazing weather. It is the culture of unity and friendliness, people from so many backgrounds coming to live together as one. It took me some time to adapt to the local mamak food and now I don’t know how I can live without it."

Mohamad, Syria, 33 years old

"To me, Malaysia is my second home. There are a lot of great things here. The people are very nice and nature here is beautiful. I love meeting the nice people of Malaysia and learning new cultures and ideas at the same time."

As we read their excerpts, it is so easy to see that the Malaysia we know now is no longer the Malaysia that our grandparents knew. It is so important to keep an open mind and evaluate the changes happening in our society. Being “Malaysian” goes beyond just race. Our culture, our lifestyle and our passion for people is what makes us Malaysian. Malaysia is no longer made up of Malaysians alone. We have brothers and sisters from various other countries who have assimilated into our Malaysian culture and together help us become a more accepting and loving society. To them, Malaysia is a place of solace, full of interesting culture, good food and, good people.

So, we’ll ask you the same question we did to our star guests and we hope you will look at it through a different lens this time. What is Malaysia to you?

*Each quote from the individuals has been edited slightly for better understanding


This article was made possible with the help from refugees under the Al-Hasan Volunteer Network. Founded in 2016, Al-Hasan Volunteer Network is a non-profit organization who aims to inspire the youth to volunteer and spread kindness through social projects and events that supports the livelihoods, education and health care of the underprivileged communities in Malaysia. For more information regarding the organization, do contact them at