Our government thinks that the nation's success is measured by the tall buildings we build, our ability to pay someone to go to space, having the longest jalur gemilang on the great wall of china, having the longest pizza, a personal luxury jet for the prime minister, that kind of thing.
Lulu thinks the measure of a nation's success is how they treat the poor, regardless whether they are our citizens or not. All are made in the image of God, all belong to this big-big race known as the human race.
And in this aspect, we have failed greatly.
I'm afraid Lulu is right in her remarks directed at our poor treatment of refugees, as documented by Tenaganita.
Our government is more interested in sweeping issues under the carpet and putting away people like Irene Fernandez (who helms Tenaganita) with a trumped-up charge of “maliciously publishing false news”:
In 1995, Fernandez published a report on the abuse of migrant workers, cataloguing the malnutrition, physical and sexual abuse and the appalling conditions the workers endure, and set out the facts about the detention camps where they end up and where many of them die.
The research included interviews with as many as 300 migrant workers. The embarrassed government admitted that 46 people had died of various medical conditions in their detention centres, but, in March 1996, Fernandez was arrested at home and charged with ‘maliciously publishing false news’.
Her trial became the longest in Malaysian history and many of the witnesses she was relying on were deported before she could make her defence. In 2003 she was finally found guilty and sentenced to a year in prison, having by then appeared in court more than 300 times.
The UMNO government treated her very badly, but it's good to know that she is at least recognised abroad with a Right Livelihood Award.
But we Malaysians are not only mean to our refugees. We discriminate against Africans as well.
Now I'm not going to claim the Africans are perfect either. Some of them can misbehave when in a group, talk loudly and appear more than just a little aggressive.
I've lost count of the number of Africans who have posted notes on my various online social networking sites to inform me that they know that I am "the right one for them" and that they "look forward to a brief relationship before moving on to marriage".
And all this at first encounter! :-) I wouldn't give a Malaysian like that any time of the day, much less a foreigner.
But not all Africans behave such. Some are actually quite funny, witty and intelligent. I like making friends with foreigners, so I've managed to get acquainted with a few.
It hurts me when they're treated badly by my own countrymen.
You see, folks, we tend to complain that we get discriminated against when we work or live abroad.
Only on Friday, my Indonesian colleague (who works with my company on a contract basis) was telling me about the discrimination he and his colleagues faced in Australia (Melbourne and Sydney to be specific).
On different occasions, someone once hurled a bottle at his friend, the bus driver yelled at them for speaking in a foreign language, and Aussies have driven past, screaming, "Go back to where you came from, bloody Asian!"
We Malaysians were shocked.
But it doesn't occur to us, that we treat our foreigners just as badly, if not worse in Malaysia. Very often, it is based merely on their skin colour.
I was reading what Pat wrote about kindness only today and couldn't help agreeing with feeling.
I think the true worth of any nation is its people. And we are a great bunch of people - or we could be, if we just got our act together. Along the way here, some of our good-ness has been eroded away. We weren't always this rough-shod, rude, kiasu, and unfeeling lot. I am old enough to remember when we used to be a lot nicer, you know.
We need to be nicer to our foreigners - all of them, not just the ones who have a lot of money.
And we need to be nicer to each other.