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To Malaysia, With Love : Are We Really As Kind As We Say We Are?

Updated: Aug 6, 2018

Photo Credits: Community member Charliecmh

This column is brought to you by Melissa Kartini Ariffin Ong. To Malaysia, with Love is brought to you by our very own Digital Content Writer, Melissa Kartini. When not occupied with her multitude of interests, she tries to partake in as many charity work and events as possible.

She is also currently involved in a positive thought-sharing project that hopes to make people

more aware of social issues that exist in the world.

Meet any proud Malaysian or visiting pinkcheeked tourist, and you’d be assailed by a

dozen and one proclamations of how kind and hospitable Malaysians are.

The question is, though, is this really the case?

Certainly, we Malaysians have our own worries, most of which have to do with putting food on the table for our families- but is the situation so dire that we cannot spare a single RM5 for the underprivileged?

This is something that I noticed over the years, and I was made all the more acutely aware of it during my time studying in Australia. There, if there is a charitable cause that needs

the aid of the public, everyone would know of it. Large banners, posters, advertisements and the like- it is near impossible to be oblivious to it all. It is almost as though they are boldly screaming for everyone’s attention.

Here, however, it is just about the direct opposite phenomenon. Charity events tend to fly under the radar, and this in turn does not bode well for the organisers and the people they are fighting for. Our exposure to such attempts are spotty at best.

This lack of presence has always been niggling at the back of my mind, a sense of discomfort for being ignorant to the silent cries of help that could be out there. It was only when I started attending charity events that this feeling returned full force, exacerbated.

One of the most recent I attended was the Empire Back to School Project 2017; a cause that

aspired to provide school supplies to orphans and children from poor families. I had looked around at the time, experiencing a mix of small, selfish happiness for having helped someone else, and more overwhelmingly, sadness that these children needed our help at all. Yet the plight of the underprivileged is not the only reason such events have a melancholic note to them.

The other is that more often than not, such events lack volunteers or donations or worse, both. And behind the bright, encouraging smiles that members of NGOs don during for the benefit of everyone else, there rests a constant struggle with trying to make ends meet.

Obtaining sufficient funds is a formidable task, and they’ve faced rejections left, right and center in their quest for the greater good. Some might even say that out of all those fighting

for causes that they believe in, they are the most jaded. They have watched their wards get thoroughly rejected for apparently being lesser beings than everyone else. They have had to regrettably leave out some of the underprivileged from receiving donations- simply because there wasn’t enough money to go around. They have even seen what supposed “parents” have done to their own children, and vice versa.

The list goes on, and yet charitable attitude has yet to completely permeate our society.

That is not to say that we Malaysians are coldhearted. Far from it! But we do need to work on

our empathy, and remember that people other than our family and friends do exist.

Just how often have we heard during the month of December that Christmas is the time to give? It’s a nice message, and I’m certain that many of us sincerely do wish others well- but just how much of that is lip service? There cannot just be kind thoughts and well

wishes. There needs to be action as well. After all, action speaks louder than words.

So I ask again, as the New Year approaches with the promise of a new beginning and onslaught of well-meaning resolutions, are we really as kind as we say we are?

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