Thursday, May 17, 2012


I work in radio. In Malaysia, all broadcasting medias comply to a certain rule made up by The Communication & Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia. Every now and then, we'd have to attend the compliance training held by them.

You see, the broadcasting rules in Malaysia are different from other countries. We have to meet certain standards in broadcasting our content taking into consideration all religions and races and make sure that we avoid certain things or not to step on anyone's toes in the process.

The reason for this is, of course, because of racial and religious issues, mainly. It is a well known fact that Malaysia consists of 3 main races, Malays, Chinese and Indians thus there are different religions that come with the different races too, not to mention the other minor races and religions, although the official religion is Islam.

I know that you can always say that all the different religions exist in other countries too but they don't really have strict guidelines as we do. The western countries have different races and beliefs too but they don't have stricter rules as to how they want to broadcast their content.

This brings back to our history and culture.

The Asians, are well known for being courteous, polite and respectful towards the elders, other people, other races and religions. Any Asian countries you go to, this you will find to be true.

The famous courteous and polite culture or 'budaya sopan santun' as we all know it is the most important thing and has been the most important thing since our great grandfathers and the people before them. We treat people with respect. You do not talk to the elders the same way you talk to your friends. You do not interrupt while other people, especially the older ones are talking. You do not raise your voice to someone older or when you talk to people. You even respect your older siblings hence the title 'abang' for older brother or 'kakak' for older sister, used before their names.

You also do not ask for things for free. You do not ask for more than what's been given to you as presents. You do not demand for things to be given to you just because it's your so-called rights to have them. You do not talk about sensitive matters of religions openly. You bend down a little when passing in front of people. You invite guests into your house even if it's for a short while. You consider your choice of words so they are not harsh or abrasive. To say it simply, the word 'rude' is never meant to be in the Asian dictionary.

Or at least, that was how I was brought up. Of course, with a few slips every now and then, here and there but I still grew up in that environment...

The common scenario in our everyday life is for example when someone offers us or our kids something, Malaysians usually reply with 'no-lah, it's ok. Tak payah susah-susah'. Or when we visit friends at their homes and they get up to make us tea, we'll tell them not to as we don't want to trouble them. But when they insist, after a while you let them anyway so they don't feel 'kecil hati' or what they're offering is unworthy of us and our time. It takes quite an experience to know when to give in so you don't look too eager to take what they're offering but at the same time to make sure you take care of their feelings.

Yes, it's THAT complicated.

But that's the Asian way. Not the western's.

Nowadays, the Asian ways can be perceived by some as being timid or scared thus not getting what you want or what you deserve, especially in the working world, I guess. I do admit that I don't feel comfortable in asking for a raise or increment and listing every single thing that I've done to show why I deserve what I want. It's also part of the 'jangan berkira' or don't be too calculative attitude I've been brought up with. You have to be sincere in whatever you do. My dear husband keeps telling me 'you have to demand, let them know what you're worth!' Well, I still find it hard to do that. I always believe in rezeki. If I get them, it is because God thinks I deserve them. If I don't, then I must be doing something wrong somewhere, you know...

Somehow, the more Asians grow, the more they travel, the higher they study, they become more 'clever'. The younger generations especially the 'well-exposed' ones are starting to become more and more opened, broad-minded and loud. They don't keep what they feel or think inside anymore. They let it all out. No more room for guessing.

There is such thing as 'cakap berlapik' or simply means choose your words when you talk. This is so you don't offend other people in expressing your opinions. You may say whatever you want to your siblings and close friends but always choose your words and be more polite when talking to other people especially those who are not your family members. The other reason for all these is so people won't talk bad about our parents and the way they raised their children. When we see rude kids, we most of the time, if not always say 'didn't their parents tell them not to do thator 'mak bapak tak ajar ke?'. This is also why you often hear parents say 'I didn't teach you or raise you up to do that' whenever you see kids being mischievous.

Now, apparently it's alright to shout and demand for what you want. It's alright to complain about every little thing that has not been going well in life. Those days parents will just say that you don't have all that because it's just not meant to be or in Islam, 'bukan rezeki kita'. It's apparently alright too to cause a bit of a stir and even instil some violence to get what you want nowadays.

I try as much as I can to bring my kids up the way my parents brought me up. It IS a bit of a challenge with the extra outside influences we get from medias and other 'open-minded' people around us.

I went to see Russell Peters, the stand-up comedian when he came over to Malaysia the other day. No, I'm not saying that he's a role model for me and definitely not for my kids with all the profanities he uses but there was a story he told about him growing up as an Indian in the Western community that is so true. It was about the way Western kids talk to their parents compared to Asian kids talk to their parents. It is completely different. The Westerners and some 'open-minded' Asian parents call it treating your kids like adults while the others, like me call it as plain rudeness. I mean, they have all the time in the world to be adults later in life, right? So if we don't teach them how to be a good one when they're a kid, how are they suppose to be a good adult in the future?

I know I'm deviating away far from my topic but I have to talk about this so my topic makes sense. From the latest compliance training I had attended, so many changes have been made to accomodate the current way of life and thinking. What used to be forbidden then is allowed now. What used to be taboo then is considered normal now.

So, that got me thinking, how long is it now for us to change from being truly Asian and have our way of life and cultures intact to this so-called modern way of life, that is actually come to think of it, just the Western's way of life?

Do we really want our next generation to go there? The next time I attend another compliance training, I wonder what do I have to be compliant with - the Western culture, perhaps.

1 comment:

  1. Thumbs up Nia, a good thought! Hopefully u r up to the challenge in raising ur kids the most humble way ;)