Self Deprecating Malays

I am one of them, mind you.

I read local tabloid magazines with a hint of disgust. I scrutinise local celebrities' use of 'Hanya Allah yang tahu' when confronted with embarrassing stories about them. I think most Malaysian artistes are well-honed hypocrites.

I read western tabloid magazines with a hint of fascination. I try to understand Hollywood celebrities' justifications when confronted with embarrassing stories about them. I think most Hollywood artistes are personifications of a desirable lifestyle.

This Hujan Batu di negeri sendiri Hujan Emas di negeri orang lain attitude is very common in developing countries. This seemingly self-destructing behavior actually fuels people's drive to attain success in an international accord.

South Korean artistes fashioned themselves to mimic Hollywood way of life until they reach a milestone that made the Korean Wave possible. Now, they are leading the way in popular music, fashion and film. The same can be said to their athletes, businesses and cultures.

The difference between them (south koreans) and us is that we channel our self deprecation differently. They aspire to better and we aspire to be worse. They make no excuse of their failures and we justify our excuses as palpable evidence of something that is certain and unchangeable.

In a nutshell; when a korean pop star lost in a singing competition, he/she will say:

My performance wasn't good enough. My dance routine could be better and my voice lacked personality. I will do better next time.

And when a Malaysian pop star lost:

Mungkin hari ni rezeki dia. Saya dah buat yang terbaik tapi kalau itu yang peminat dan hakim mahukan, saya tidak boleh buat apa-apa. Saya hanya lakukan yang terbaik.

It is fascinating how Malaysia and Korea started developing around the same time. Korean and Malaysian national football team were bitter rivals. Now they are in the FIFA finals and our national team is the 152nd in the world's ranking.

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