Part II – of a continuing series
By Faiz Al-Shahab
When I was growing up, I remembered seasons whereby every house in the neighbourhood was going through some sort of renovation or house extension of some kind. It usually happened at the same time, initially triggered by a neighbour that decided to upgrade his or her house. These seasons used to annoy me as pockets of sand dunes and cement on our street had, in a way obstructed my playground due to all construction works. Then all of sudden, the sand and cement mounds disappeared and all loud banging and clattering stopped. The neighbourhood went back to normality…until another decided to renovate again.
I was too young to understand what was going on back then, but it finally caught on to me as I grew older. Amongst the neighbours, there will be unease when a fellow neighbour installs a new gate or a gate that is higher than the rest. This feeling of unease, better known as jealousy, will then encourage competition of show casing amongst the community, sometimes even to the extent of bad mouthing, back stabbing and taking a huge loan.
It normally starts small. Neighbour A repaints the gate. Then neighbour B see and decides to do one better and change their gate to a new one. Then neighbour C jumps into the band wagon and replace their gate with a new one, only this time with some patterns and carvings. Neighbour D sees this, and does the above with a remote electric function.
If you think this is funny, ask yourself about how you would react be it one day if this happens: your neighbour who you think is more likely to be an average person similar to yourself, suddenly drives a Ferrari into his or her porch. Probably similar reaction to those childhood neighbours of mine. This reaction of uneasiness is a clear evidence of inferiority.
I don’t quite understand this concept of “Get worried if your neighbour does well, cheer if they fall on their face”. To me, what happen will be very straight forward and simple. If my neighbour turns rich, I for one will be at ease. Firstly, I am sure they won’t be coming to me asking to “loan” them money. Secondly, I am also in hope that due to their wealth they will invite me for a food bash or ‘kenduri’ whereby I can eat expensive food without paying. Most of all, I will be at ease because when a potential burglary is in place, the thieves will probably ignore my house for my wealthier neighbours’.
What if it was the other way round? What if my neighbour is poor? What if you find out that they are short of money to buy milk powder for their kids or to buy medicine when they are sick? You cannot just sit still and watch; obviously you have to help out. A terrible thing to think about, really terrible, but I as an average mankind will definitely feel unease with a neighbour consistently in need.
This phenomenon is reflected all across Malaysian society. The lack of self confidence is making Malaysians expressing their void in self-belief by acquiring material goods. The lack of self confidence also drives Malaysians to worry about other people’s perception over them. As a result, in the work space, Malaysian entities will rather back stab each other than work together so that others will always be worse off than them.
In an economy size of Malaysia, these practices will result in many fund leakages in initiatives made via collaborative projects. Malaysians do not like working together because they do not want their partners to be better off than them. Even though an entity that secures a project cannot execute the work, they will not find a Malaysian partner that can do the work. So it is not unheard of that they will try to do it themselves and fail, the project goes beyond budget, or they will find a foreign provider.
The sad truth is that with less inferiority and more confidence, Malaysia actually can be an exemplary country with high productivity and low wastage, but obviously this is not the case. Malaysians will not consider other Malaysians when they could actually benefit more by working with Malaysians, just simply because inferiority complex is deeply rooted.
Government and private sectors that have Malaysian companies calling for them, are usually unanswered. Instead, Malaysians that can do work will be ignored in their evaluation, and not at all given the chance to prove their money worth.
Hence the Malaysian inferiority impasse goes on, and will always be there to haunt the country in every step of the way.