has entered the fifty first year of its existence. This has been a half-century of determination, progress and keeping a fine balance between the diverse communities, races and cultures in the country. But Malaysia achieved successes against all odds.

True that it confronts issues of ethnic and religious tension and the side effects of controlled politics. However, prosperity assures that most of the citizens find a stake in national unity and the country’s future!

I am a little allergic to the magnified tales of tensions in the country especially by a media that we know is neither fair nor benign. Which country of the world is free of internal schisms and struggles? Fifty years is too early to assess that. Or is it the case that this rapid success without reliance on the Western prescriptions and defying the post-colonial clientelism is at play. Inverse racism of sorts. Hope I am wrong…

Or is it that there is a Muslim majority which by definition (in the global propaganda) raises alarm bells? Maybe the images of women with scarves participating in the economic and political life of the country upsets all the stereotypes about women’s “subjugation” by Islam. Many things irk the masters of stereotyping and branding agents of a new imperialism.

It is also a country that welcomes its tourists and makes sure that they enjoy their stay, Islamism notwithstanding. It also challenges the highlights of a recently independent ‘developing’ country: poverty, low levels of education, crumbling infrastructure, crime and dependence?

Unfortunately it is true that tensions in the society and calls for an “Islamic” society dilute its attempts to maintain ethnic harmony and channelise national resources to sustain gains already made. But like many Malaysians, I share the optimism and wish the country and its people the best.

Happy Independence Day – I love Malaysia (truly Asia!).

Postscript: My optimism on Malaysia in an older piece.