Saturday, June 23, 2012

The "Unfriendliness" of ethnic Chinese: Result of Experiences or Mentality?

Having a quick chat with my Iranian landlord regarding the tripartite racial divisions here in Malaysia, he remarked that the Malays and Indians here are much more welcoming of foreigners and all around more open, warm, and friendly than the ethnic Chinese here.  Two weeks into my life here at Kuala Lumpur, and despite being ethnic Chinese myself, I am becoming more and more inclined to agree with him (and many other foreign expats I come across at work) that this notion is indeed true.  The Chinese here really are less friendly than the other two races.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Divisive Dilemma of a Western Company in a Developing Country

"So, do you get paid in Ringgits or Euros?" a coworker casually asked over a quick lunch at the local hawker stand outside the office building.  The nonchalant air he tried to project as he suddenly blurted out the question betray a damning curiosity that is nothing but nonchalant.  Indirectly, he just spoke volumes about the internal division within the company: the difference between foreigners and locals working in the German company here in the remote corner of Kuala Lumpur is not simply a matter of skin color and national origin, it is a matter of financial status that could have deep ramifications.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Multiculturalism in Malaysia: Physical Superficiality or Permanent Tension?

"Multicultural Asia," for someone who has never been outside East Asia, is largely an oxymoron and impossibility.  Even the most cultural diverse in the region, China, has no real diversity to speak off.  Minorities languish in the political, economic, and obviously demographic dominance of the Han Chinese, who has made assimilation an ultimate goal in creating a stable society.  And then, an East Asian who shows up to Malaysia is simply dazzled, amazed by how the Malays, the Chinese, and the Indians have together carved out a truly multiethnic country where no one is more foreign than the other.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Remembering Tiananmen Square: What Does June 4, 1989 Mean in the 21st Century?

While the overseas Chinese sites and commentators have been abuzz with videos, pictures, and stories remembering that fateful day 23 years ago, there was an eerie silence on the Chinese blogosphere, punctuated by short bursts of coded messages with indirect references.  Most of them disappear from cyberspace in matter of minutes, thanks to extra-diligent monitoring by relevant personnel at the various mainland-based social networking sites, but the few that avoid their meticulous reviews of new contents then go on to ignite a viral round of coded reply before the whole thread disappears.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Queen Elizabeth II at 60 Years of Reign: What is the Meaning of a Modern Constitutional Monarchy?

"Queen Elizabeth II, 1952-2012," various signs across Her Majesty's great capital city proclaims.  Patriotism, so uncommonly seen physically here on the British Isles, seems to be at an all-time high on this weekend, with British flags and other related goods sold in shops across the city, just in time for people to celebrate Her Majesty's 60 years of reign by attending a boat parade on the Thames River this Sunday (i.e. tomorrow).  The uninhibited adoration that the Crown receive from both the British and foreign residents, at least here in London, seems unanimous.