Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Malaysia at the World Stage

I was reading a John Grisham’s novel this morning, The Brethren, when the name Malaysia popped up on one of the pages, pg. 20 to be exact. Now, Malaysia is not one of the better-known countries in the world, let alone to an American author. So each time Malaysia is mentioned, regardless of the context in which that arises, I always get a kick out of it.

In this particular case, the sentence reads “Chenkov has close ties with some mobsters, one of whom recently bought a factory in Malaysia where they make nothing but assault rifles.” I’m still at the early part of the novel but I am pretty sure that Chenkov is one of the villains. So nothing surprising there when Malaysia is linked in a dubious way.

It used to be that fictitious nations are used in a sinister plot in a book of fiction but now most authors have done away with that, ostensibly to lend an aura of authenticity, which may sound ironic in a work of fiction, to the international intrigue. As far as Malaysia is concerned, I’ve personally read/seen the following “citations”, in addition to my new discovery above:

The first one that comes to mind is the Disclosure by Michael Crichton where one of the sub-plots involved the visit by the lady boss (the one who harassed the hero, who is her subordinate) to Malaysia, which was caught on tape by a local TV station. I remember seeing in the movie with the same name starring Michael Douglas and Debbie Moore that the TV station was TV3, an actual one operating in Malaysia.

Then there is the movie, Entrapment, starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones, which was filmed in Malaysia, using the Petronas Twin Towers as the backdrop.

However, I don’t think Malaysians are generally proud of this kind of questionable mention either in a book or on the celluloid screen. Fortunately, Malaysia has also made it to the world stage based on real achievements, be they in construction, sports, or international leadership. Here I would like to name a few just to start the ball rolling:

  • In construction, Malaysia once had the world’s tallest building, the Petronas Twin Towers, until it was upstaged by Taipei 101. Incidentally, the Petronas Twin Towers is the only Malaysian entry in Googlesightseeing.

  • In sports, Nichol David from Malaysia is the reigning world champion in woman squash. Our lady bowlers have also claimed the world crown at one time, not to mention our prowess in Badminton, even though lately our teams have been outsmarted by China once too often.

  • In the international arena, Malaysia was once a member of the Security Council of the United Nations, and holds the current chair of OIC (Organization of Islamic Countries).
You are welcome to add to the list, if for no other reason then for the feel good factor. Surprise me.


Nor Hisham said...

You'll find Malaysia in PC games as well. One that I recall is in Hitman 2 where the main character has a target to eliminate in the Petronas Twin Towers. They're pretty autehntic as well with the locals speaking Malay.

Say Lee said...

Thanks for the surprise, Hisham.

I wonder whether the dialogue in Malay has been screened by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, which was recently granted policing powers, the so-called language police.