Malaysia is Where the Heart is
This was my first ice-breaker speech for Toastmasters International, delivered at Bangsar Toastmasters on 21st May 2013.
As a well-known proverb goes, “Home is where the heart is”, it means your true home is the person or the place you love the most. For me, my nation is my home. For me, Malaysia is where the heart is. Before you prejudge me as a patriot or a nationalist, a part of what defines me as Zaim Mohzani is being a Malaysian. I will speak on 4 points about myself and how being a Malaysian defines me as a person.
The first point – I am a product of the Malaysian dream. I have a mixed racial background. On my father’s side, my grandmother is a Hokkien-speaking Chinese whose grandfather migrated from southern China to Penang. On my mother’s side, my grandfather was an Indian from Madras who immigrated to Malaya in hopes of a better life. Both my paternal Chinese grandmother and maternal Indian grandfather married Malays. So what does that make me? I’m a Malay, I’m a Chinese, I’m an Indian – I’m a Malaysian. It leads me to my second point.
Being of multiracial background, I am colour blind when it comes to people’s ethnicity or race. I was a raised in a family where racism was unacceptable. If I wanted to insult a Malaysian based on his or her race, I’ll be insulting myself. Yes, that even applies to Sabah and Sarawak because my girlfriend is from Sarawak! However, Malaysians are still divided along racial lines. We have a tendency to identify and judge each other based on our colour. However, we selectively are colour blind when it comes to a few things – public holidays, food and on the road when we see the traffic light! Being in Malaysia, we tend to forget how diverse our country is from its languages to its much-loved food. We take this uniqueness for granted. I took it for granted until I went to Australia, which goes to my third point.
As some of you might know, I’ve only recently returned from Australia for good after over 5 years in Melbourne. At 23 years old this year, I spent a fifth of my life in Australia – completing my college and graduating from university. Melbourne is one of the most liveable cities in the world and Australia has one of the highest standards of living. But the point is you will appreciate your homeland more when you are away. I had the choice of staying there or to return to Malaysia. While many of my peers went for the former, I chose the latter. Despite her flaws – the traffic jams, widespread crime, low salary – Malaysia is still home. Speaking of Malaysia’s problems, it will leads to my final point.
Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot despair of humanity, since we are ourselves are human beings.” Complaining of our problems will be easier than finding solutions to them. Malaysia has many challenges. Many will perceive it as problems. I see it as opportunity. This is an opportunity for us stand up and be nation-builders. In contributing to the community, I’m part of a student representative council for Malaysian students and an active member of a NGO empowering young Malaysian across the nation. We can make a commitment to make Malaysia a better place and it starts with ourselves.
Everyone will have a special home in their heart, be it a thing, a place or a person. For me, it is my country Malaysia. I was born here, I was raised here, I can say lah here; this is my home. Malaysia is where the heart is.
Back to you, Mr Toastmaster!