Cultural Amnesia (with apology to Clive James)


ometimes, people behave in a way which lends credence to what otherwise would have passed or been dismissed as cultural prejudices.

I was born and bred in Malaysia, amongst ethnic Chinese communities who are either businessmen or professionals. These business people and professional (mainly men) in turn transact mainly amongst themselves, with the odd deal involving a different ethnic group, usually emanating from a government related project. When such a deal is in play, one invariably comes across a technocrat of sorts – often from sub-continent roots.

These SC folks have, often unfairly in my view, earned a reputation as being untrustworthy and a pain in the arse to deal with. Allegedly, they renege on their words, are very untrusting, thus leading to convoluted steps being undertaken, and often analyse their end of the bargain with a turbo charged FOMO mentality. Hence the prevalence of racist Indian jokes in Malaysia. This was way back then of course and I have no idea if this is still the case today.

An ex-colleague has been attempting to seek some form of redress or recompense for having been dismissed. This person clearly has no idea how to go about the process and has missed every turn so far. This is ironic as her role was to have been to implement or coordinate such processes. That she hasn’t been able to work out (or, apparently, haven’t managed to bother working out) the right way to seek redress for herself, clearly weakens her case and does no harm to my employer’s decision to let her go.

Ordinarily I would have been very sympathetic and I was, initially, quite so. The way she stomped around however, and the way she made statements which were so out of turn, making demands which clearly inflated her sense of importance and almost certainly far exceeding her station in life (for now at least). The fact that she is ethnically Indian would have all been irrelevant except all her actions, statements, and missteps resonate in that I have seen it all before, and almost always involved Indian antagonists. To talk it all up, but with comical outcomes, appear to be the hallmarks of what I saw back in the day. I had long discarded such thoughts and the last time I chastised myself for thinking in such terms was a very long time ago – years before I left Malaysia, when I was paly with practitioners who were Indians. I had in fact, often told Tress that had I not met her, there was a very high chance that I would have married an Indian.

The dodgy nonplussed course of action is unfortunately reminiscent.

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