One thing that always strikes me when I’m in Malaysia is the diversity. Walking around the streets of Kuala Lumpur, it almost feels like the city is equal parts traditional Malay, Chinese and Indian (statistically this is not true, of course, with a heavy skew towards Malay followed by Chinese). Of course, all of these are Malaysians, but these are the groups that make up the majority of the country.
But given the diversity that makes up this country, it never ceases to amaze me how intolerant the government is. This isn’t surprising given the country’s official classification as “Muslim”, but I am always intrigued when a country that is built upon and prides itself on diversity has such a one-sided stance on things. Homosexuality is still a crime in this country, as is sodomy, as demonstrated in the criminal case of former deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
As Malaysia continues to grow in economy and prosperity, it will be interesting to see how the political and religious views the government holds to will shift in light of a global influence. Here is to hoping that people living peacefully will be allowed and encouraged to pursue their individual happiness, regardless of what brings that.