A New Malaysia

Assalamualaikum wbt.

malaysia

“In this lifetime I’ve been blessed enough to witness: North and South Korea’s leaders shaking hands, America’s first black president, and the longest ruling government in the world slowly being overcome by sheer power of the people. What a time to be alive.” — Twitter user @jean_heng

Perasaan bangga di hati saya tidak dapat diungkapkan dengan kata-kata. Dari gerakan #PulangMengundi sehinggalah melihat kenalan yang menetap di luar negara gigih berusaha untuk mengundi walaupun banyak halangan. Rakyat Malaysia bersungguh-sungguh untuk merealisasikan perubahan bersama tak kira agama dan bangsa.


After the elections, I was amazed by the professionalism shown by both YB Khairy Jamaluddin and Syed Saddiq who, despite their differences, both voiced out their intentions to work together to rebuild a better Malaysia, which is what we ALL should do.


May Allah bless Malaysia and may we prosper from all aspects! Democracy is ALIVE and WELL in this country. We have proven that the rakyat has a very loud, clear voice, echoing all over the world! 🌎 Alhamdulillah Ya Rabb. We have witnessed HISTORY before our very eyes.

Regarding the old ruling government, I genuinely wish nothing but the best for them. May they realize their mistakes and make a comeback, stronger and better. Weed out the bad things. Rebrand everything. Become a well-respected opposition party in their own right. Thank you for your 61 years of service, and all the good that came with it.

If you told me two years ago that Tun Dr. Mahathir would be seventh prime minister of Malaysia, I would have thought you barking mad. I am excited and thrilled to see what the new ruling government has to offer. So much potential! Hoping to see fresh and progressive changes in the nation. It’s only been two days, and things seem to be going well so far. And if they don’t perform, well… they should be afraid of the rakyat, then.

The Stigma Towards Mental Illnesses in Malaysia

Assalamualaikum wbt.

This was written for a university assignment. Thought I’d post it here.

Other than physical and visible illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, there is a group of people who suffer from illnesses that are not so obvious to the naked eye. Examples of mental illnesses are bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety and multiple identity disorder. Unfortunately, in Malaysia, there is a strong stigma against mental disorders – people associate them with craziness and Tanjung Rambutan hospital. This unfortunate taboo is preventing many of these Malaysians from seeking the help and treatment they may need.

There has been a slight improvement in terms of awareness and education of mental ilnnesesses in Malaysia, but mostly we are still weak at identifying symptoms and knowing how to help. Trained psychologist Dr. Chua Sook Ning stated, “I got people who found out about their peers’ mental illness. People say ‘you are possessed by jinns, you are faking it, you are lazy, you are not reading the Quran enough, you are trying to avoid work’”.

According to the Health Ministry’s 2015 National Health Morbidity Survey (NHMS), up to 4.2 million Malaysians over 16 years old – around 30 percent of the segment – experience some form of mental illness. In 2006, it was just 11.2 per cent. This is extremely alarming as there is not enough awareness on mental illnesses. Nathaniel Branden once said, “The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is action.”

According to the Health Ministry’s Plan of Action 2016-2020 report, only 10 per cent of mental illness patients find employment after undergoing the government’s Individual Placement & Support – Supported Employment (IPS-SE). Dr. Chua said this was due to the government not addressing the issue directly and not providing adequate solutions. There are various emergency medical care options for childbirth, heart attacks, but not many for psychotic breakdowns.

In 2016, Arlina Banana, a social media influencer suffering from bipolar disorder, threatened to commit suicide publicly on her Twitter account because she could not stand the amount of hate she got. While some netizens did offer her emotional support, many others decided to tweet her insulting things such as “Guess you will end up in hell for killing yourself!” and “Does this idiot have no religion?”. Clearly, Malaysians have a lack of sympathy for those who are suicidal.

People cannot just ‘snap out’ of a heart attack, so why are those suffering from psychological disorders told to ‘toughen up’? Like a physiological illness, a mental disorder requires treatment and sometimes medication. Someone suffering from a mental illness should not be treated with disgust but should be showered with love and acceptance to improve their health.

Many mentally ill people in Malaysia are not aware of OKU cards for mental illnesses. In Malaysia, there are a few criteria that makes you qualified to apply for an OKU card for your mental illness. Firstly, Clients must have undergone at least two years of psychiatric treatment, and secondly, psychiatrists will determine the level of social functioning, cognitive and behavioral control significantly affecting the patient,before s/he be considered for the purpose of OKU. Some benefits of the card are financial assistance, education facilities, income tax exemption, and discounts on public transport.

gila

The film ‘Redha’ was shown in Malaysian cinemas in 2016 to spread awareness and acceptance about autism. Not a mental illness, but a neurodevelopmental disorder, this was still a huge step for the Malaysian film industry. The film received good feedback from critics and viewers. Also in 2016, Hanna Alkaf published a book titled Gila: A Journey Through Moods and Madness, a compilation of personal stories from those suffering from mental illnesses in Malaysia. There are also mental health awareness campaigns such as #ImNotAshamed and movements such as Minda. The Befrienders 24-hour hotline also exists for anyone who needs a listening ear.

Anyone suffering from mental health issues should not suffer in silence or feel ashamed to admit that they have a mental illness. They should seek professional help. After all, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943), it was stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others. Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behaviour. Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us. ‘Safety’ is at the second level of the pyramid, which includes health. If mentally ill people cannot even reach the second stage, they will struggle to achieve love, esteem, or self-actualization.

References

Maslow, A.H. (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-96.

Palansamay, Y. (2017). TodayOnline.com. #ImNotAshamed: Malaysian psychologist out to beat mental illness stigma. Link: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/imnotashamed-malaysian-psychologist-out-to-beat-mental-illness-stigma

Navaratnam, S. (2016). Review: Gila: A Journey Through Moods and Madness. Link: http://www.star2.com/culture/books/book-reviews/2016/09/04/review-gila-a-journey-through-moods-madness/

Minda. (2017). A Twitter thread on OKU cards for mentally ill Malaysians. Link: https://twitter.com/mindakami/status/838625855664357377

Ease the journey for those learning English

ease

Assalamualaikum wbt.

DEPUTY Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) was ridiculed badly by Malaysian netizens because his English was not exactly up to par.

However, I hugely agree with the article “The importance of taking the harder option” (The Star, Sept 29) that it was brave of him to try. He could have spoken in Bahasa Malaysia, played the nationalistic card while proudly claiming to be the first Malaysian leader to use the national language on the international stage at the UN, but he did not.

I honestly believe that one of the biggest reasons Malaysians are afraid to speak in English is because of the crippling fear of being mocked. We point and jeer at them for making small mistakes when they are still undergoing the learning process. Let’s face it, not all of us come from the city or went to elite schools where talking in English is completely normal.

H. Jackson Brown Jr., the American author best known for his inspirational bookLife’s Little Instruction Book, once said, “Never make fun of someone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language.”

Learning a language, like learning any other skill, requires patience, perseverance and the courage to fail again and again. We criticise the citizens of our own country for their poor command of English but at the same time we do not allow them room to grow.

There are even social media accounts dedicated to making fun of “WeChat kids” who make silly mistakes when attempting to post updates in English. While some of the screenshots are quite hilarious, making them viral will demotivate the users even further.

It will make them not attempt to speak English at all in the future. They might think there’s no point in trying if they are going to do badly anyway.

Personally, I love the Twitter account @EnglishJer because it helps Malaysians to learn English in a fun and constructive way. They also constantly compare the usage of Bahasa Malaysia and English which eases the journey of learning for native Malay speakers.

Overall, Malaysia is not as incompetent in English as we think it is when compared to other countries that do not use English as their national language. Malaysia is ranked 14th out of 70 countries with high English proficiency in a survey by the EF English Proficiency Index, emerging as among the top two Asian countries with high English proficiency.

Recently, I read a story about how a Malaysian working overseas apologised to his British boss for his lack of command of English, where the boss replied, “It’s okay, because we don’t know how to speak your language at all!”

If you know someone whose English skills need improving, point them to some online classes or buy them a novel. Do not screenshot their status updates and subject them to ridicule.

ARIFAH HUSNA BADLISHAH

Subang Jaya

(The Star, 22 Oct)

P.S. I submitted this to The Star as part of an task/assignment for something. Please pray I make it to the next round!

bucket list.

Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

For some reason I am feeling super-ambitious this week. I decided to compile myself a bucket list, career-wise.

a) Attend international forums, and as the years go by, speak at international forums.

b) Do an internship or get an actual job at a major company in the creative industry. Adobe? 

c) Make my Grandma’s original keropok bawang a national delicacy.

d) Become fluent in Arabic.

e) Do humanitarian work.

f) Indulge in the arts. Design. Advertising. Film. Poetry. Spoken word poetry.Etc. Integrate Islamic values in my work.

g) Get a Master’s degree or a PhD and become a lecturer at a national university.

h) Start a publishing company concentrating on contemporary Islamic fiction.

Deep down inside, I am sure that Malaysians are worth much more than novels beginning with ‘Suamiku ………….’.

Please, guys. I really want to believe that, in the near future, there will be novels about:

  • Detectives and thrillers. How about ‘Misteri di Makkah’?
  • Science fiction — how about someone accidentally using a time machine to travel to the years before the end of the world?
  • How an orang Asli discovered Islam and convinced his whole family to revert.
  • The memoir of a Malaysian Muslim who lived in New York during 9/11 and had to deal with the aftermath of it.
  • Young adult literature. Like a coming-of-age story about a girl who decides to wear hijab.
  • Someone who lives a conflicted double-life as a student of religious knowledge and a prostitute.
  • DECENT romance novels. Have you ever read anything by Hlovate?

i) Launch a Malaysia-based Islamic multi-author blog with articles exclusively in English (think ProductiveMuslim, MuslimMatters, etc!).

I have known two types of Muslim youth in this country, Type A and Type B.

Traits of a typical type A: lives in an urban area, has experience living overseas, isn’t fluent in Malay, sees Bahasa Melayu and Pendidikan Islam as weak subjects in school, speaks English at home, is scared of religious authorities, has negative opinions of people wearing tudung labuh, often comes from wealthy background, sees Islamic rulings as petty and irrelevant, sees nothing wrong with touching/holding/hugging opposite sex, has very liberal opinions, looks down on Type B, etc.

Traits of a typical type B: lives in non-urban area, is scared and/or hesitant to speak English, the words ‘amboi’, ‘omputeh’, ‘kafir’, and ‘bajet’ comes to mind when thinking of English-speaking Malays, thinks all Christians and Jews are out to get Muslims, believes that studying in Western countries will corrupt Muslim minds, is horrified by thick English reading materials, tends to be unambitious, has very conservative opinions, looks down on Type A, etc.

I want to launch this blog in order to help Type A, Type B, and everyone in between. In the hope that Type A will become more interested in Islam and see how beautiful it is. So that Type B will not see English as an evil, demonic language and open more doors for them to see the world.

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Well, I might die tomorrow. I may not ever achieve any of these goals – especially the huge, huge dreams. I’m just putting it out there in the hope that somebody will. But before that, I will make sure that I have the intention to achieve them, and that I will work hard.