Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Are You A Malaysian Liberal?

Written by johnleemk on 12:43:57 pm Apr 8, 2007.

The Star has published a test called The condom (and other assorted things) test so you can answer that oh so pressing question: are you a Malaysian Liberal? (Liberal with a capital L, apparently.)

The quiz is one of the most funny and inspired things I've read in quite a while. The dearth of satire and parody in our local media is really irritating, so it was good to see that these genres aren't totally dead yet.

For a little fun, I've decided to try to analyse the quiz and see how its author distinguishes between different classes of Malaysian society. At first reading, it seems to me that there are four types, each associated with a particular answer:

  1. Those who choose answer a. are probably Malays and members of the establishment.
  2. Those who choose answer b. are probably conservative non-Malays, and may be either members of the establishment or establishment-leaning fence-sitters.
  3. Those who choose answer c. are probably liberal-leaners who aren't totally on one side of the fence yet.
  4. Those who choose answer d. are Malaysian Liberals, with a capital L.

With these in mind, it's amusing to note that according to the quiz, Malay members of the establishment are most likely to end up in Perth if they migrate to Australia. I honestly have no clue why this is so, and would be glad if anyone could enlighten me on this — is it because some prominent Malaysian leaders have been buying property in Perth as of late?

Similarly, the stereotype of conservative non-Malays is that they end up in Brisbane. Again, I'm totally lost — although it makes perfect sense to me that a conservative non-Malay would prefer watching "that fellow with the funny hairstyles" on American Idol to a Siti Nurhaliza concert.

I'm not too enlightened about the reference to liberal-leaners preferring Pete Teo to Siti Nurhaliza, and I'm not sure why they would choose Melbourne of all cities in Australia. It also seems to me that someone who would want Anwar Ibrahim to be the next Prime Minister of Malaysia would not be a fence-sitter when it comes to the question of who is the superior columnist — Khairy Jamaluddin or Jacqueline Ann Surin.

The most amusing parodies are truly those of the Malaysian Liberals — and considering that The Star is unabashedly conservative and pro-establishment, this shouldn't be too surprising. Still, the well-thought out comic imagery deserves praise — who could not laugh at the thought of someone flashing a Police officer copies of the Royal Commission Report, the Suhakam report on the Kesas Highway incident, and the latest copies of periodicals like Aliran? And the interior monologue of the Malaysian Liberal when faced with a Muslim convert to Scientology is hilarious, if possibly not all that realistic:

Mumble, "Yes, ah?" and change the subject, privately wishing you had stayed in Sydney, where everything was so much simpler, and where the most difficult decision was whether to get the organic vegetarian soup or the organic vegan soup for lunch.

Oh, and incidentally, I don't get the bit about Malaysian Liberals preferring Sydney either, although the part about them returning to Malaysia to "make a difference" after five years does certainly ring true. There's also a clever dig referring to how the Malaysian Liberal would prefer installing a columnist as Prime Minister of Malaysia, rather than any of the established politicians.

One final confusing thing: I didn't know that the stereotyped standard response for a parent who catches his son with a condom is to "suggest a more reliable brand". Obviously parody is parody, but I find it a bit difficult to believe that one could stereotype conservative, establishment Malays or conservative non-Malays as condoning such behaviour. Then again, it's possible the article is poking fun at the truly elite (Malay and non-Malay), whose children famously lead less-than-moral lifestyles.

Whatever the case, the quiz is truly a clever parody of the conservative-liberal spectrum in our society. It's probably not too unbiased, but it's still guffaw-inducing, which is a welcome relief from the normal staid propaganda our mainstream media put out. Now if only we could get some funnymen to write for our alternative media...

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Infernal Ramblings is a Malaysian website focusing on current events and sociopolitical issues. Its articles run the gamut from economics to society to education.

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