Sunday, December 18, 2011

Malaysia vs Indonesia, and these are the facts

Some years ago, I had an invitation from one government agency to travel to Kota Bahru to conduct a series of training programmes. Prior to the commencement of my journey, there was so much apprehension in me as I would be traveling to an Islamic state administered by PAS.  After a few days stay, my fears became totally unfounded as everything that was highlighted by MCA, Gerakan and UMNO, turned out to be false.  The truth is we could get bah kut teh along Jalan Besar, beers and stouts were sold openly but minused the promotional signboards.  You could even feel safe walking around the town without being mugged.  After I returned to KL, I told my wife that our next holiday would be Kota Bahru.

Now what about Indonesia, a nation which is predominantly Muslim. Anyone who knows Indonesia well can confirm on the facts mentioned and just hope that the gloomy prediction do not come too soon.

Differences between Indonesia & Malaysia from a retired German
lecturer P. Feisenberg who had worked in Penang during Tunku's days and in Jakarta in Suharto's time. An interesting account of his observations & gloomy prediction of the future of a young nation ...

A big divide between the two countries yet they live next to each
other and both are Muslim countries.

Is this because there is a Mahathir ( and an UMNO ) in one whereas there is none in the other?

I always tell my friend that Indonesia is not the best country in the world to work and live but since working in Indonesia for about 5 years, I don't have the feeling that I am living in a Muslim country despite 93% of Indonesians are Muslim. 99.9%  of my colleagues are Muslim and we go for lunch and dinner together and sometimes to a Chinese restaurant that served pork and there is no fuss about it. (For your information - the people who sell pork are Muslim -  bosses are Chinese and employ Indonesian Muslim to cut and sell pork in the wet markets)

All 5-star hotels served pork bacon and ham for breakfast and are
prepared by Muslim.

Alcohol is sold everywhere in the street… and Indonesia No 1 selling beer is "Bintang" and is brewed locally and is consumed by all Muslim openly. No issue….

During fasting month the Muslims are free to decide if they want to fast or eat as normal No issue at all and no one catches them.

The president and vice president are elected by the people and so are the governors of the city (in Malaysia we call them Mentri Besar). No one is appointed by the President or in Malaysia by the PM.

National holidays - Hari Raya Idul  Fitri is 2 days and Chinese New Year is 1 day but Christian enjoy 3 days  - Christmas, Ascension of Christ and Good Friday. The Hindu in Bali has 1 day for Hari Raya Nyepi celebrated only in Bali . Wesak day is also a public holiday.

A Muslim can convert to a Christian tomorrow and then to a Buddhist the next day…and back to a Muslim. ….no issue at all.

In supermarket pork is sold side by side with chicken and beef….no issue at all.

I can go on and on ... in short Indonesia is a very liberal Muslim country.. definitely not Malaysia . FYI our Malaysian senior government officer "suka Indonesia" … you know why!!!

So now the question is, are we moving forward or are we going backwards?

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