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Malaysia truly… polarized

Sanne van Oosten

“Malaysia truly Asia”, this country slogan might just be the most catchy one I’ve ever heard. Maybe it’s because of the frequency of the highly stylized CNN-commercials, or because it just rhymes so well, but whenever I hear the word “Malaysia” I feel like following up with “…truly Asia” right away. I wasn’t the only one to remember this slogan so well, since the launch of this slogan in 1999 the Malaysian tourism board has won dozens of creative marketing awards for this marketing campaign. Various tour operators and hotel chains explain that Malaysia has earned this slogan because it being a melting pot of Asian cultures. But can Malaysia really be called a melting pot? In this blog, I will explain why such a polarized country like Malaysia could never be called a melting pot.

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Exporting Amsterdam to Asia

Droog design heater, a great export product of Amsterdam

Sanne van Oosten

It’s good to be back. After nine months of traveling through Asia I’m so happy to be in good ole Amsterdam again. In Dutch I’d say: Oost, West, Mokum best. Even though we had an amazing time in Asia, this trip has made me appreciate all those little things from home just a little bit more. Biking through the city, the view of the windmill from my window, Old Amsterdam cheese, and last but not least, delicious water straight from the tap.

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Freedom after Speech

Sanne van Oosten

Our favorite saying when visiting Malaysia is definitely: “In Malaysia we have freedom of speech, but what we don’t have is freedom after speech.” After uttering an opinion that doesn’t please the government you won’t be dragged out to court, but you will suffer other consequences. It might be harder to find a job or it might be harder to get a permit for your business. I found the saying freedom after speech thought-provoking. Can any country claim there to really be freedom after speech? Even if the opinion expressed is severely sensitive? Let me explain with a little example…

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Pop-quiz democracy

Sanne van Oosten

“Malaysian prime minister drops hint of election date”, now that’s a headline you wouldn’t see in many other places. Drop a hint? Isn’t that something that is calculated through when the last elections were? Think again, in Malaysia the prime minister prefers that the elections are a pop-quiz, you don’t know when it is going to be, you can only speculate at the hints the prime minister “drops.”

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How the Malaysian government is buying power, but fails to take care of its voters


Davey Meelker

When I was sitting at the market in little village in the jungle of East Malaysia (Borneo), a small stall caught my eye. A man was busy getting fingerprints from a women as part of a whole process with lots of forms. It ended with the man handing money over to the woman. It seemed a dubious event to me, so asked around. The answers I got was: “well, the elections are coming, so the government is handing out money.” I was bewildered that the buying of votes is performed so openly. The political party in power is spending the government’s money to buy power! I asked around and did more research, and apparently this system is widespread in Malaysia.

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When cultures die out – being one of the last ones to visit and authentic traditional longhouse in Borneo

Sanne van Oosten

We often hear people complain that traditional cultures are dying out. Is it really such a shame when cultures die out? When the youth does not want to  take part of the culture that their parents hold so much importance to, why would it really be too bad? Indeed, it does diminish great cultural exchanges for tourists, such as the cultural exchange we enjoyed. However, it might not even be in the best interest of the people to remain part of a traditional culture, so who are we to complain about cultures dying out?

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