Food for thought: Differences between Indonesia and Malaysia

Differences between Indonesia & Malaysia from a retired German lecturer P. Feisenberg who had worked in Penang during Tunku’s days and in Jakarta in Suharto’s time. An interesting account of his observations & gloomy prediction of the future of a young nation …

A big divide between the two countries yet they live next to each other and both are Muslim countries.

Is this because there is a Mahathir (and an UMNO) in one whereas there is none in the other ?

I always tell my friend that Indonesia is not the best country in the world to work and live but since working in Indonesia for about 5 years, I don’t have the feeling that I am living in a Muslim country despite 93% of Indonesians are Muslim. 99.9%  of my colleagues are Muslim and we go for lunch and dinner together and sometimes to a Chinese restaurant that served pork and there is no fuss about it. (For your information – the people who sell pork are Muslim –  bosses are Chinese and employ Indonesian Muslim to cut and sell pork in the wet markets)

All 5-star hotels served pork bacon and ham for breakfast and are prepared by Muslim.

Alcohol is sold everywhere in the street… and Indonesia No 1 selling beer is “Bintang” and is brewed locally and is consumed by all Muslim openly. No issue….

During fasting month the Muslims are free to decide if they want to fast or eat as normal… no issue at all and no one catch them..

The president and vice president are elected by the people and so are the governors of the city (in Malaysia we call them Mentri Besar). No one is appointed by the President or in Malaysia by the PM.

National holidays – Hari Raya Idul  Fitri is 2 days and Chinese New Year is 1 day but Christian enjoy 3 days  – Christmas, Ascension of Christ and Good Friday. The Hindu in Bali has 1 day for Hari Raya Nyepi celebrated only in Bali . Wesak day is also a public holiday.

A Muslim can convert to a Christian tomorrow and then to a Buddhist the next day…and back to a Muslim. ….no issue at all.

In supermarket pork is sold side by side with chicken and beef….no issue at all…..

I can go on and on…….in short Indonesia is a very liberal Muslim country.. definitely not Malaysia . FYI our Malaysian senior government officer “suka Indonesia ”…you know why!!!

Subject: Another Report: Why I left  for our ‘poorer’ neighbour — Indonesia

This writer is absolutely correct and gave a very fair view of Indonesia. I have been in and out of Indonesia for the past 10  years. Sometimes, my stay is up to one month per visit. I have worked with senior Indonesia managers as well as low level staff. I have also interacted with lots of direct sellers from all sorts of background. I have dealt with the
Indonesian civil servants.

They don’t talk about race. The mass media do not propagate racial or religious divides. They don’t spin story of Christian fighting the Muslim or Muslim fighting the Christian. Husband and wife can have different religious belief. There is not such fuss as Halal restaurant. Tony Roma in Indonesia serves the best pork rib. In all the Tony Roma restaurants Muslim and non Muslim sit and eat together on one table. I ate pork rib,
my Muslim colleagues ate beef and lamb. There is no such thing as a Halal and non Halal section.

Comparing the environment and the working culture in Indonesia between pre 1998 (Suharto’s era) and the year 2008, you can see the vast improvement in Indonesia civil services.

During Suharto era, my visit to Tax office (Kantor Pajak)  cannot be done without carrying cash for coffee money. The tax officer will always start with ” Pak dari Malaysia mahu chak kopi dulu”. And this small favor money must be given and openly counted on his desk before any discussion.

My last visit in 2008 to the government office (Departmen Pentadbiran, you cannot use Jabatan Kerajaan. They hated the Raja), you cannot even mention anything about “Kopi”. See the vast difference. SYB sent his own brother-in-law to jail. Suharto’s youngest son, Tommy Suharto was jailed. Do you see this in Malaysia ?

Malaysia is rotting. And  the writer is absolutely correct. If the situation is not changed, Malaysia will be the biggest exporter of maids to Indonesia , 10  years down the road. Padam muka orang orang kampong.

Muslims in Indonesia have no problem with patronizing outlets that sell alcohol or non-halal food, even if they choose not to have any. In Malaysia , the Muslims make a big fuss over small things which they claim are not halal. You may argue that there are fanatics here in Indonesia. but the number is small relative to the population. Just look around
Malaysia . Everywhere you look, you get fanatics.

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