Sunday, May 02, 2004



My friend Setiawan was kind enough to let me use his garage at his home in Pondok Indah as my storeroom for the past three months; but today I finally managed to haul all my stuff back to KL. Had to pay 18 USD to SIA for excess baggage though.

Because I used to fly Singapore Airlines, I still have have some Krisflyer frequent flier miles which I can redeem for a couple more flights to Jakarta. The only hassle is having to transit at Changi airport everytime--which I don't exactly mind because I enjoy browsing at the bookstores there. Morover they are lots of free Internet-surfing stations there for you to keep yourself occupied productively. Makes KLIA such a dull place in comparison.

Security at Changi is also the tightest among the three airports (KLIA, Changi, Soekarno-Hatta) that I passed through on this trip. Even the metal buttons on my khakis would trigger their handheld detectors. I can't help but admire the Singaporeans' professional fussiness and their unrelentless attention to details.

Of course, we Malaysians enjoy making fun of our neighbour's kiasu-ism but one cannot deny that it is this very quality of kiasu-ism that makes Singapore the successful nation that she is today. I enjoyed working in Singapore but somehow I could never call it my home. Like Karim Raslan, I also lament the fact that the younger generation of Singaporeans hardly speak a word of Malay anymore. I won't be surprised if many of them do not understand the lyrics of their national anthem, Majulah Singapura.

The old guards of Singapore--Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Chok Tong and even Lee Hsien Long are among the dying breed of Singaporeans who could still speak Malay. In the Singapore Story, Lee Kuan Yew recalls how he used to sing Burung Kakaktua, an Indonesian folksong, in his shower--to the approval of the Tunku, who had harboured suspicions of him being a Chinese extremist.

But we--Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore--are very different countries now. Well, I guess I am just nostalgic for the old Nusantara--one where such artificial borders do not exist.

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