Setting the record straight has become a national pastime for Malaysians. The perennial ‘Who came first?’ reverberates with an Doppler effect all year round, crescendoing into dinning proportions especially as we approach significant national anniversaries.
Our communal mental space has become so cluttered, our reflexes so predictable. We pine for the loss of our country’s best, yet we are suspicious at the slightest hint of ‘outside influences’ and ‘foreigners’ at the periphery of our world. We forget that people define a land, and that people are always in flux. We have become shackled to this cotton-balled view of how things have been, are and should be that we have forgotten how to dream.
A friend quipped, not too long ago, that “myopia is irreversible, correctible only by surgery”. What will then be our fate, as a herd of myopic people? After indulging in five decades of blaming our dead colonial masters, if and when we try to imagine a Utopia, can it only be through corrective lenses?
Will our descendants, two or three generations down the line, inherit our myopia?
If we can admit this deficiency, dare we imagine what Malaysia will taste like in 50 years? Dare we ask who will be our new neighbours? What will be our new Peranakan? What will our lexicon sound and look like? What cerita-cerita dongeng will we tell our children, and what values will they be passing on?
A bunch of young Malaysians have decided to take on this challenge to imagine a futuristic Malaysia in 2061. We examine our relationship with existing communities of peoples from Iran, Uganda and Nigeria to discover how our landscape may shift. And by letting our imagination soar, we experiment with our taste buds, fables, use of language and the concept of gating a community of this future.
We will run a six part series on this exercise in imagination, starting 1 August and leading up to Malaysia’s 48th anniversary on 16 September 2011.
Having grown up in this country, a country still so mired in racial politics until today, we acknowledge that it will take much more than just a bouquet of stories to affect change on a personal and policy level. However, we make no apologies for trying to be dreamers—can anyone blame us for wanting to do so?
And so, this is our invitation to you, to step out with us for just a minute. We’d love to share with you this udara hening senja, at Serambi.