Malaysians typically have a tendency to be patriotic. Ranging from food, identity, and culture; we get a boner over all things Malaysian. We LOVE when others (foreigners) praise our country, and hate it when we’re subjected to criticism. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have a sense of pride; it’s healthy even, but to what extent exactly? And is it worth glossing over the not-so-shiny parts of our nation?

Observing collective identities is such an interesting activity.

If I had to categorize myself, I’d say that I’m a Malaysian-American. I was born in America, but grew up in Malaysia until I was 12 years-old before moving permanently…

Photo by Falaq Lazuardi

In Malaysia, “sensitive” topics that involve race, religion, and royalty are often viewed as overly controversial to the point of being rendered taboo. Many Malaysian people, particularly those who were born Muslim, are forced to leap through giant hoops if they wish to leave the religion. The process is not only tedious, but often yields devastating results.

The right to choose to believe in a religion (or not to) shouldn’t be regulated by a government, but the reality in Malaysia is that Ex-Muslims face threats of persecution for simply choosing to live a life that is separate from Islam.

Growing up Malaysian made me aware of diversity from a very young age. The experience of a pluralistic society where different people lived in peace and harmony was my norm. As I got older, I started to see the flaws in the political system. One of the many issues that exist in Malaysia, is the restriction on religious freedom. Due to it’s politically-sensitive nature, there isn’t a lot of discourse on the matter. However, I believe that mature dialogues are necessary to spark conversations in civil society. …

Jefri Nazri

Enjoys Political Science, Japanese language/culture, and photography.

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