Coming from a small country and big metropolis; somewhere where perfection is essential and everybody is thorough with over-planning, I think we have a lot to learn from our neighbouring countries.
There seems to be this prevalent silent conflict between Singapore and our neighbour, Malaysia whom we used to be a part of. During my 2 weeks in Malaysia, where I was being less of a tourist and did a lot of lazing around while getting to know the people and talking with them, I’ve learnt and understood so much of Malaysia’s culture. More than I ever have in years of reading about the merger and separation of both the countries in history books back in school. There have been years of petty arguments about stereotypes of both nationalities, comparisons of who invented what food and who plagiarized who when it comes to variations of famous dishes. There have also been a fair share of exchange in irrelevant insults of what we’re both equally horrible at.
I mean, we used to be the same nation, and it really takes a lot for me to finally say that I have come to a middle ground and experienced both sides of the culture. I dare say I am neutral in this sense, even as a Singaporean. Every two neighbouring countries will bound to have their differences and it is our responsibility as the newer generation to grow away from the traditional thinking of our ancestors and move towards to live in harmony. No judging, no hating, no comparing. Of course that’s entirely impossible but imagine how much of a better place it’d be if everyone would at least try and put in the effort to do that.
Both countries have pros and cons, likewise for everything else. But at the end of the day we are all Asians, we do have the same history, similar upbringing and culture, and we will be stuck next to each other geographically for as long as the earth revolves around the sun. And I have made many new Malaysian friends who are more than amazing, counting those that I already know previously from back home in Singapore. As hard as it is to change that mindset, I do hope that others would someday take a chance in the other country, no matter where we all come from, try to understand and compromise on the other culture, reason and understand why we do the things we do, or live the way we live before passing a remark as simple as “that’s so Singaporean” or “that’s so Malaysian.” Because it would be a real shame if i ever had children and 10 years from now I still hear the same ridiculous sentence being thrown around so disrespectfully by people who didn’t even bother giving two hoots about understanding the first thing about those who are from right across the border.