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Floating on a Malayan Breeze

by Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh

What happens after a country splits apart? Forty-five years ago Singapore separated from Malaysia. Since then, the two countries have developed along their own paths. Malaysia has given preference to the majority Malay Muslims - the bumiputera, or sons of the soil. Singapore, meanwhile, has tried to build a meritocracy - ostensibly colour-blind, yet more encouraging perhaps to some Singaporeans than to others. How have these policies affected ordinary people? How do these two divergent nations now see each other and the world around them? Seeking answers to these questions, two Singaporeans set off to cycle around Peninsular Malaysia, armed with a tent, two pairs of clothes and a daily budget of three US dollars each. They spent 30 days on the road, cycling through every Malaysian state, and chatting with hundreds of Malaysians. Not satisfied, they then went on to interview many more people in Malaysia and Singapore. What they found are two countries that have developed economically but are still struggling to find their souls.

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