On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

It’s great to be home!

Malaysia, for all its strange happenings and political foibles, is truly a wonderful place to come home to – and here are 10 good reasons why I feel this way.

IT’S good to be back in Malaysia after taking a short break for the New Year. And you know you are coming back to this wonderful and glorious homeland the moment you board the flight home.

Even before the plane lands, you are already reminded that you are about to enter the airspace of the Land of Contradictions. It’s really amazing to be back to face the politicians and the bosses, again, as we start work and plan the next holiday. Isn’t Malaysia great? And here are my 10 reasons.

Reason No 1: You know this is truly Malaysia when your onboard movie is interrupted because Malaysia Airlines has to play the new upbeat Malaysia Truly Asia song to promote our country – this is Visit Malaysia Year after all. You can’t help but feel proud as you look at the faces of the tourists sitting next to you. They must love us. And then, just after the wonderful welcome is over, the steward comes on air to warn all the passengers that they will be hanged if caught and convicted of possession of drugs. Again, I look at the faces of the Mat Sallehs and, of course, the Iranians and Ugandans, if any of them looks like one.

Reason No 2: It’s so good. So darned good to hear the captain of Malaysia Airlines welcoming all Malaysians back home. I love the genuine smiles of our MAS cabin crew. It’s real. Not plastic, unlike other airlines. But you also ask yourself why we are truly Malaysian at this point and then the moment we walk out of KLIA, we are reminded, by some quarters, that we are Malay, Chinese, Indian or lain-lain. Malaysia, according to some, is not really our “home”. Because when we disagree with them, they tell us to “go home”.

Reason No 3: You know you are in KLIA because our Malaysian politicians and VIPs love their entourage! They love attention. They love to be sent off on trips and they also love to be welcomed back. What an insecure lot they are. They must be seen in the company of at least 30 hangers-on. For a division leader, at least 10, I reckon. I also cannot fathom how they have bag carriers who can obtain security passes. Malaysian VIPs, you see, don’t wait for bags at the conveyor belt, like us commoners. Maybe they know the luggage takes ages to arrive and have found a clever way for their bags to arrive first!

Reason No 4: It’s Visit Malaysia Year 2014. I love to see the airport filled to the brim with real tourists. Plenty and plenty of them. It will happen for sure. We have a year ahead. Right now, the airport seems to be filled with cheap foreign labourers, with their dazed and lost looks, as their contractors bark out orders. Where are the real tourists?

Reason No 5: From your window seat, you see KLIA as the plane taxies down the runway. KLIA looks great. You feel proud but hey, it’s also pretty quiet and deserted. And then, as we drive home, we find another airport that’s almost identical and about to be opened, despite the many misses, and you wonder why we are building another airport if the present one is pretty empty. But hey, this is Malaysia. Don’t ask unpatriotic questions. And don’t whine about the cost of KLIA 2!

Reason No 6: Speaking of “them”, you know you are heading home to Malaysia as you read the one-day-old Malaysian newspapers. It’s humorous. There is another Malaysian politician who told us to leave the country if we don’t like Malaysia – obviously someone has to tell her that Malaysia does not belong to any political party. Can we ask the politicians to leave Malaysia if they continue to be racist or corrupt? And vice-versa, we have voters who cannot differentiate between the government of the day and the country. Getting all mixed up, they condemn the country for any government wrongdoing. But hey, look on the bright side, this is Malaysia. We are utterly confused, most of the time by the politicians!

Reason No 7: And this is the latest mind-boggling national news. The Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (Jais) raids the Bible Society of Malaysia and seizes 321 copies of the Alkitab, 10 copies of the Iban Bible, Bup Kudus, and 20 copies of Luke’s Gospel in Malay.

And then it says it FORGOT to inform the Selangor government. I am told they also FORGOT to inform the Sultan of Selangor and we can assume, Jais also FORGOT to get a warrant. Amidst this provocative action, many of us have FORGOTTEN in the age of the Internet, you can click and download just about any religious publication in whatever language. Raid Google next?

Reason No 8: More news from the day-old newspapers. Politicians lecturing us on the need for rationalisation, subsidy cuts, price increases, the need to save, to be prudent and to be more productive. Stop updating Facebook aka Buku Muka at work. No Candy Crush. No more kuih muih and bee hoon at meetings. Also, please stop talking about our pay rises, which we all voted for anyway. And so what if we want to buy new expensive cars? We deserve it. We worked hard. We got discounts, ok? (chuckle). And of course burning up jet fuel. I love our politicians. World-class answers.

Reason No 9: This one has to be one of the best reasons why it will be stupid to migrate – even if some of our politicians keep reminding us to do so. We love long weekends. All our public holidays can be connected to our weekends, so we get long stretches to take a well-deserved break. We have tolerant employers too. We can’t get back to work immediately after Jan 1, boss. Kena hantar anak pi sekolah, first day at school. Boss, I will report for work on Jan 6, Monday. No point coming back on Friday lah, already weekend. Boss, no flights back, all full, Jan 7 Tuesday, ok ah?

Reason No 10: You know you are back in Malaysia because the malls and shops have started the Chinese New Year sales. The decorations are up. The mood is being built up. Christmas and New Year holidays are over but now, we plan our CNY holidays. We simply love Malaysia. So many, many holidays. And this does not include football holidays! And then there is “emergency leave” to help us recover from the holidays. So you see, for all our screw-ups, fiascos and contradictions, it’s good to be back in Malaysia!