FALSE AND SPITEFUL REPORT: OUR ‘FIRST-WORLD’ NEIGHBOUR DID IT, YET AGAIN!
Mohd Hazmi Mohd Rusli
It has been 52 years since Singapore was removed from the Malaysian Federation. Both countries assumed friendly diplomatic relationships ever since and took different path in pursuing their aspirations.
Just a couple of days ago, a Singaporean online portal, The Independent.sg spread false news about the inefficient medical service provided by Hospital Sultanah Aminah (HSA) leading to the death of a Singaporean youth, Justinian Tan. After consistent protest from the Ministry of Health (MOH) Malaysia against the spiteful report, the Independent.sg has retracted it and replaced the page with the words ‘We’re Sorry’.
It is up to us as Malaysians whether or not to accept the apology. This report by the Independent.sg however has directly or indirectly summed up how Singaporeans (obviously not all) perceived us in general:
- Public services facilities (in this case, health service) in Malaysia not up to par with the ones in Singapore;
The car accident that took away Justinian Tan’s life was a terrible incident and our hearts go to him and his family in their time of sorrow. Accidents could happen anywhere, even in the comfort of one’s own room. Nevertheless, this does not justify The Independent.sg to spitefully lambast Malaysia’s health service.
It is to be noted that Malaysia has one of the best healthcare in the world, as reported by the Baltimore-based International Living in 2017. Earlier in 2014, the same magazine quoted that the expertise of Malaysian healthcare practitioners is ‘equal to or better than what it is in most Western countries’.
This was not a report published by Malaysia or Singapore, but by an American-based magazine. Singapore takes pride of being the most developed nation in Southeast Asia but this irresponsible report has shown that they are possibly not as developed as we may think they are.
- Malaysian cities like Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpur are dangerous to visit and should be avoided;
Singaporean-based online news portal like AsiaOne and The Straits Times have published a number of articles exemplifying how dangerous Johor Bahru is. An article published by MalayMail Online entitled ‘Driving to KL…taking your life in your own hands?’ written by a Singaporean journalist, Surekha A. Yadav showed clearly how some Singaporeans think that Malaysia is a ‘land of criminals’.
But despite this adverse reports against Malaysia, there were about 13 million Singaporeans visiting Malaysia in 2016, a number which is more than twice the number of the whole population of Singapore. If Malaysia really is that unsafe, why bother visiting Malaysia in the first place?
It is to be noted that Malaysia is ranked 29 out of 163 countries in the world by Global Peace Index indicating that Malaysia is one of the safest nations on Earth. Singapore is not even in the top ten spot at number 21, not too far from Malaysia.
To add, in 2016, the World Bank ranked Malaysia as the second most visited country in Asia after China with more than 27 million tourist visiting this country that year, ahead of Thailand, South Korea and Japan. If Malaysia is that dangerous, it would not in any way be on that list now would it?
- Malaysians do not speak good English as good as Singaporeans do;
The recently-retracted report published by the Independent.sg suggested that Malaysians do not speak English as good as Singaporeans do. This is based on the fact that there was miscommunication between Tan’s friend (who spoke English) and the HSA staff (who spoke Malay).
This is however not entirely true. According to EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI), Malaysia is ranked at number 12 (high proficiency) out of 72 countries. This depicts that Malaysians in general possess good command of the English language.
Nevertheless, even if the HSA staff could not speak English, Malay is still one of the official languages and the sole national language of Singapore. Miscommunication might be expected if a Malaysian or Singaporean visits Thailand (where the Thai language is totally alien) but Malay is not a language which is totally peculiar to Singaporeans. The inablity of these Singaporean youths to converse even in a simple Malay is a manifestation of how the Singaporean educational system has failed to uplift the status of the Malay language as the sole national language of the country.
There are actually more on the list but these three are among the main perceptions most Singaporeans have against us that should be corrected over time. Although there are Malaysians who would not mind cyber-bashing their own country, the recent incident involving the HSA nonetheless shows that most Malaysians are prepared to stand up together should there are irresponsible reports like the one published by The Independent.sg tarnishing the image of the nation.
Although the online portal has issued an apology, the Malaysian government should be stern and adamant on this matter so as not to allow this to happen again.
Malaysia and Singapore are good neighbours and have been co-existing well for the past half a century. Let us keep it that way.
Mohd Hazmi Mohd Rusli (Ph. D) is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Syariah and Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia and a visiting professor at the School of Law, Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok, Russia.
*Artikel ini adalah pandangan peribadi beliau dan tiada kena mengena dengan Teh Tarik Online.