We can be more than that Mat Saleh


Malaysians maybe have finally resolved determinations to prioritise our tanah tumpah darah before pinning the colourful thumbtacks on the enchanting Europe map. I noticed the trend from TV initiatives that have snowballed circa last year. Some rural districts for instance have been commercially invested not ruining the natural beauty of the places but instead, making them more Instagram worth and worthy experiences. We have little flat space of island and mostly steep, the unforgiving hills, small colourful towns with recognitions of races, big city promising wonderful vista of skyscrapers, beautiful quiet beach, calming lake, forest with all home remedies available and many more.

Looking at the credits at the end of all programs, I do think people behind the scenes deserve rounds of applause for the commitments to put Malaysia on the map. It is astounding now that the tourists do not get confused with the location of Malaysia which had been said in Singapore; vise versa.

And since the initiatives have been cherished by the neophytes and experts (travellers), locals and foreigners, there is someone who attracts goodly attention. Dealing with Malaysia seems to be like breeding thoroughbreds – he knows and enjoys all bits and pieces in here which it all started with a vacation in Pulau Perhentian. Communications he said was the most enjoyable experience – the attempt to speak like locals - later intrigued him to learn some words. Eventually and surprisingly, he speaks like an expert now. The wonderful stay he ever relished so he didn’t want to move, didn’t want to go anywhere else. He decided to just stay here forever. He wanted to enjoy the beach to the fullest, without worrying about anything. And last but not least, he married our people.

I’ve been following him ever since watched his TV program. I enjoyed having my family sitting together in the common room - laughing and feeling a wee bit weird of why does a Mat Saleh speak Terengganu lingo so fluent and somehow matches with his look. Trust me. My family is obsessed with him.

But, really, what is so great in here that you decided to stay, Mat?

Abah said it could be an unexpected discovery for him, a totally new experience. And it could be too – people’s tastes change and the unexpected discovery produces certain feelings like an overwhelming attachment. But mama is more brutal obviously. Malaysia is beautiful. There is nothing strange about that, she protested.

I agree. Malaysia is beautiful. I am living in this free country but going hardly to spend my money discovering the beautiful spots whereby thousands of tourists appreciate their time and experience every year - with the colossal wave, enchanting flora and fauna without a slight boring signal of having Nasi Lemak every breakfast during their stay. This triggers me - fallacy of existence of mostly Malaysians my age: the idea that you have contributed so much to this country, so pessimistic when people talk bad about your country, being all proud of become a part of this country but yet, do not know some crucial facts about this country.

Are we representing our country very good? Well, we may skip that one first. So, here is more preeminent surpassing all other responsibilities – do we know everything about our country? Everything shall include but not limited to history, people of all kinds, festivals, custom and traditions – besides places and foods alone. These are among other significances of essential knowledge and behaviour to serve our purpose and commitment of being Malaysians. 

Last year I think, I was bumped into a friend’s post on Facebook that said, “We Malaysians do not celebrate Thaipusam. We Malaysians enjoy the Thaipusam holiday. And, what is Thaipusam anyways?” I also wrote in my book Cari, in one chapter about Malaysian students studying overseas, of the weirdest confidences and perceptions, “Janggal membayangkan bagaimana kepercayaan boleh wujud hanya atas landasan bahasa di negeri orang tetapi bukan di negara sendiri.”

But two posts I found on Twitter today furnished me with fruitful hopes and aspirations. These too have proclaimed the viability of our purpose and commitment. I am beyond proud.



Instant spirit of overnight nationality is rarely achieved, it is understandable. There is no wrong if you want to spend your money travelling in Malaysia, it’s your money but make it more than Instagram worth. Travelling can teach us more than our History teachers did in school.

We have come long, Malaysians. Learn to appreciate the journey, not the destination.


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