Name : Mak Khar Loon
Title : Dream Fulfilled
Having different races and customs, Malaysia is a multiethnic and multicultural country filled with love and passion. Malaysia has almost everything and most importantly, Malaysia is the place where I call ‘home’. I wanted to stay in Malaysia forever. It was hard for me but in order to repay my beloved country and my dear family, I have chosen a different path, a path of leaving my hometown and to study in Japan. Just like we always say, `no pain no gain`. The education systems of Malaysia and the advancement of world’s technology have changed my life and affected my way of thinking towards my own future. It was not an easy path but with the help from the government and some Japan’s local organization, as well as supports from my family, I am lucky to get what I wished for. And now, studying in japan has widened my own knowledge by seeing things that I had never seen and experiencing lives that I had never experienced before. I am enjoying myself very much in Japan. This essay is mainly about the reason why I leaved Malaysia and the reason why I decided the study in Japan. Hope that this short story of my can affect more students to think hard for their own future before making any choices of their life.
Malaysia is a multiethnic and multicultural country that has been established since 1963. Situated in Southeast Asia, it consists of peninsular Malaysia in the east and Sabah, Sarawak in the west, separated by the South China Sea. Although it is a small country with only 33 thousand sq. km in area, Malaysia is perfectly formed and has become one of the most popular countries in the world with a variety of food, festivals, and traditions. We have many ethnic groups such as the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Ibans and others living together in this peaceful and harmonic land, which makes our country full of different religions, cultures and traditions. It is an amazing thing that we can actually live together even though we have different thoughts and different lifestyles. All thanks to Malaysia’s education system that teaches us to respect each other and never discriminate or offend others that are different from ourselves in any aspects. In fact, we even share our customs with other races and celebrate each other’s special days together such as Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Deepavali, etc. If you are dropping by, be sure not to miss Malaysia’s cuisine, especially the food from the famous Penang－the Pearl Of The Orient, as it reflects the multi-cultural aspects of Malaysia. Although every single ethnic group has their own dishes, many dishes in Malaysia are derived from multiple ethnic influences. For example, Char kway teow－a type of fried flat rice noodle, Nasi Lemak－a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and “pandan” leaf, Asam Laksa－a popular spicy noodle soup from a merge of Chinese and Malay elements and which was voted seventh out of 50 most delicious foods in the world by CNN and others. Food preparation differs from place to place, but spices, aromatic herbs and roots are the main ingredients used in Malaysian cuisine. Moreover, due to different religions, we also have buildings with unique architecture, such as mosques for Muslims, Chinese temples for Buddhists, Hindu temples for Indians, churches for Christians and more. Imagine how all these buildings can appear standing in a small land like Malaysia without any complaints, isn’t that wonderful?
All of this couldn’t have happened without our beloved Father of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Dato Sir Tan Cheng Lock, Tun V.T. Sambanthan and others who fought to obtain independence from the British on the 31st of August, 1957. Since then, Malaysia began to develop itself by introducing new systems and importing skills and technology from overseas countries. Starting with agriculture and once heavily dependent on primary products such as tin and rubber, Malaysia is now a middle-income country with a multi-sector economy based on services and manufacturing. Due to low labor costs and attractive plans such as the Tax Free Zone offered by the local government, Malaysia is able to attract a lot of foreign investments. As a result, Malaysia is now one of the world’s largest exporters of semiconductor devices, electrical items, and information and communication technology (ICT) products. Furthermore, situated near the equatorial line, Malaysia is a warm country with an average temperature of 28 degrees Celsius throughout the whole year, making it a suitable place for growing a large variety of tropical fruits and vegetables. The king of fruits－Durian, the queen－mangosteen, banana, mango, almost all the fruits that you can think of can be found in this piece of golden land. Nowadays, scientists are looking for a way to replace gasoline and diesel fuel that are going to finish soon. They have come up with the idea of using vegetables or animal fats to generate renewable biofuels. After years of research, scientists have set their eyes on palm oil. Palm oil comes from oil palm tree, with its fruit containing palm oil, and its seeds containing palm kernel oil. And because oil palm trees are the highest yielding oilseed crop and can be grown in a sunny tropical region, Malaysia has become one of the best choices for the palm tree plantation. Currently, the countries that produce the crudest palm oil are from Southeast Asia, mainly Malaysia and Indonesia. Malaysia is the single largest producer with more than 50 percent of the world’s production, and together with Indonesia, both countries produce about 80 percent of the world’s production. These are the reasons why I love Malaysia and I feel proud to be a Malaysian. Of course, Malaysia’s growth and connection with the world relies on modern technology.
A long time ago, we depended on birds to deliver our letters, animals to travel to other towns, etc. But now with the invention of phones, the Internet that connects people around the world and the developments in transportation such as air flight, ships and trains, we can now connect to almost every country in the world at any time and any place with just one click or one touch. The development of technology leads to the globalization. The Silk Road that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa. The‘Black Ship’, how the Japanese refer to the Western vessels, stopped at Yokohama`s harbor for trading during the final years of the Edo period. These are the examples of how technology connects the world and spreads the ideals of globalization. We can now share information such as technology, fashion and even ideas with countries around the world. But to me the best result that comes from the act of globalization is the establishment of world organizations such as the Red Cross, FAO, WHO, etc. ‘A world without hunger’ is the theme of FAO. They linked people around the world to help those who live in poor countries, like Africa and Afghanistan, by offering free foods and medicines. Isn’t that meaningful?
So individually, how does globalization actually affect my life? Since a child, I was exposed to news and stories about the world outside Malaysia through television and the Internet. It has influenced me to study in overseas countries. Even my mom went to England to study when she was young. I wanted to see and experience different cultures outside Malaysia. I wanted to know how it would be living and studying in a place that has unfamiliar surroundings. And most of all, how can I repay my beloved Malaysia which gives me a peaceful environment to live in. After some consideration, study abroad became the key to my dream. Living in a country with multiethnic people offered me a chance to learn different types of languages since I was small. Thanks to the education system which our government has set since the birth of Malaysia, I am now able to speak at least 3 different languages, such as Bahasa Melayu, English, Chinese, etc. But at the same time, it makes it hard to look for jobs in the future because almost all Malaysians have the same advantages as me, like speaking and understanding different languages. In order to survive in such a competitive society, I must possess an advantage and gain more knowledge than others. Therefore, I thought of looking for a country that has a different language and possesses advanced technology. The country that came into my mind was Japan. Sushi, Samurai, and Kimonos, a unique country that has a special culture and tradition that is totally different from any other country in Asia. Japan is also famous for its security too, with the lowest crime rate around the whole world. Most of all, Japan is an advanced country with advanced technology and their way of thinking, especially the notion of punctuality, really attracts me. The idea of studying in Japan became stronger when I found out about the Look-East Policy.
In 1982, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, launched the Look-East Policy that largely affected the industrial and education systems of Malaysia. The Look-East Policy’s objective is to learn the good values of the East like Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. Their work ethic and technological skills are particularly important. To encourage students to leave Malaysia and study abroad, the government offers scholarships and authorizes exchange programs to go overseas. Many students go to the East to learn their culture and gain experience in order to strengthen Malaysia’s economy.
During the time when European and American free traders aggressively forced East Asians to open their countries for trade, Japan started modernizing in order to fight against the wild ambitions of the Westerns who wished to gain control of their economy. Japan was able to ward off the Westerner’s supremacy by adopting administrative systems and commercializing the economy, improving their political and social structure. One of the ways they did that was by sending their precious children to Europe to learn and to gain knowledge about industrial technology. The important features regarding Japan’s success are the patriotism, discipline, and hardworking ethnics who have competent management systems and, most of all, the willingness of the private sector to cooperate with the government. Since the beginning of the Meiji Restoration, Japan has been facing a lot of challenges, such as the devastation of World War 2, the Great Hanshin earthquake and not long ago, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Despite that, they have shown us their capability of handling these problems by rising from almost total destruction to become one of the top 5 most powerful economies in the world. Japan was once hated for cruelty during World War 2, but they have changed. Now, they vow for peace and focus on improving the quality of their lives.
30 years since the launch of the Look East Policy, Malaysia has changed a lot. Not only we have managed to learn the technology from japan, we also adapted the way of Japanese’s thinking especially the ideal of ‘punctuality’ and ‘hardworking’. On the other hand, Japanese companies such as Ajinomonto, Panasonic, Canon and etc. are making investment and establishing factories in Malaysia, and they even joined hand with local residents to start businesses. Malaysia’s culture has also increased with the influences from Japanese who chose Malaysia as their second home under the programme of ‘Malaysia My Second Home’. Every year we can see local residents wearing Yukata, a traditional garment of Japan joining the Bon Odori festival organized by the Japanese. Furthermore, department stores selling Japanese food and beverage, and restaurants selling Japanese cuisine such as sushi and ramen too have increased for the past few years. Seeing the change that the policy has brought to our country, I am convinced that studying in Japan is a right choice.
The road to Japan was not an easy one; I was born in an average family. My parents couldn’t afford to send me overseas as covering my expenses and school fees would be a great burden on them. But giving up is not an option to me. I started my journey by studying the Japanese language in Malaysia while looking for an alternative way. I worked hard to obtain a good result because it was my ticket to applying for scholarships. Finally, here I am studying at Gunma University in Japan! I am very grateful for the full support from my family and really appreciate the help of local organizations, such as JASSO and the Rotary club, who offered me scholarships that really mean a lot. Gunma University has been putting a strong effort in recruiting foreign students. They organized a lot of activities such as a tea ceremony, flower arrangement and more, to let foreign students fully understand Japanese culture and tradition. They even arranged short trips such as fruits plugging and factory tours to let us experience Japan’s lifestyle while enjoying ourselves. At Gunma University, besides Japanese, I got to meet different students from different countries like Taiwan, South Korea, America, Slovenia and more. We exchanged our points of view through work, discussing and understanding each other’s lifestyles through hostel life. On the other hand, the organization who offered me scholarship －the Rotary Club, not only helped me in the way of money, they even organize events like New year party and also invited me to join them whenever there is any festival holding in japan. They make me feel like I am at home again even in Japan. All these experiences could not be obtained if I chose to stay in Malaysia for the rest of my life. I don’t regret choosing to leave my dear country.
My dream of studying abroad has been fulfilled. My next goal will be gaining experience and learning the Japanese lifestyle and way of thinking while working for a Japanese company. I hope that the things I have learned here will let me play a role in helping the growth of my beloved country someday in the future. And most of all, I will work hard and repay my family that supported me all the way. My life would have been different without them.