Malaysianists: Non Malaysians and their interests in Malaysia (2)

So, I have said something about the Malaysianists. I my un-empirical observations, the Malaysianists are in the majority males. I also believe that at least for the academic level, the Malaysianists is an endangered specie. This is because of heavy competition from the Indonesia area studies. Many of the Malaysianists also are ‘experts’ on Indonesia. (So they are also Indonesianists). This endangerment is also caused by the overall decline in the interest of area studies. Area studies is not as glamorous as accounting or corporate finance or any other subject areas that lead to professional qualifications or qualifications that are perceived to be tickets to better incomes. The decline is obvious when you look at the dropping interests in the learning of South East Asian languages in schools throughout Australia (esp New South Wales). [Of course the learning Mandarin and Japanese are exceptions – and readers should know why! ]

I will say something more about the phrase ‘neutral’ observers. I admit that there are exceptions to this situation. Perhaps one of the best examples is embodied in K’Tut Tantri in Bali, Indonesia. K’Tut Tantri is an American woman who fell in love with Bali. She was a resident in Bali before WWII. She suffered a lot during Japanese occupation. During the revolution (1945-1950), K’tut Tanri provided an English voice in spreading the cause for Indonesians, which was broadcasted from Radio Pemberontakan in Surabaya. Perhaps some readers may have read her book – Revolt in Paradise.

Actually I know some Malaysian examples. I know some of them intimately, but now is not the time to mention their names. Many of these Malaysianists have married Malaysians and have made Malaysia their new home (or one of their homes i.e. the homes of their in-laws etc). So when these Malaysianists fall in love with Malaysia or with Malaysians, their objectivity may be suspect. This is definitely a contradiction: You need to be interested in Malaysia to make good analysis of the country’s issues and problems, but if are too interested to the point of falling in love, your analysis may not be objective anymore.

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