By June RamliTweet
Hear me out, Malaysia. This is going to be a rather controversial suggestion but it is worth a read. I recently visited Bali for the third time after vowing to never visit the island the first time I did so in 2006.
My recent visit, which was done more under a pretext of a business visit turned out to be exceptional and opened my eyes and got me thinking unconventionally about Malaysia.
Indonesia as we all know is a country that has a very large Muslim population but somehow the rules are bent when it comes to Bali.
The majority of the occupants living and breathing in Bali are still allowed to practise Hinduism despite looking very Malay and back in the day Halal food was almost impossible to find.
But today, I noticed that there were Muslim embellishments in Bali these days.
I could hear the Muslim call for prayer or Adhan just right after the Balinese Hindu chanting while I was playing golf at the Handara Golf Resort Bali in Bedugul.
This would never happen in Malaysia. I know this for a fact because the Malays in Malaysia are just a different breed – very religious sometimes overly religious for their own good.
I remember as a New Straits Times reporter, I once had to cover a story of Beyonce’s concert being culled in Malaysia because of her sexy outfits.
She was supposed to come to KL for a concert but gave the whole country a miss and headed to Jakarta instead.
That is how silly the Malaysian ulama’s can get.
But in Indonesia, they are rather lenient. When I was in Seminyak recently I saw a billboard of Jason Derulo’s impending visit to the island.
A marriage between a Muslim and non-Muslim are not as nerve-wracking as how it is done in Malaysia and Bali is allowed to be wild and free.
The Indonesians understand that if they turn Bali to become very Islamic, the quality bule’s (Mat Salleh’s) tourists would stop turning up on their doorstep.
Despite having roots in Padang from my paternal side of the family, I have never been anywhere else in Indonesia besides Bali.
What attracts me to the island, every time is the culture, the shopping and even the party scene.
This is what has got me thinking about why can’t Malaysia have a haram jaddah spot like Bali.
For the bule’s to go and let loose completely.
This would be an area free of all the PAS goons and one that would allow the Malaysians and the overseas tourist to mingle freely without having any religious officials busting down the hotel rooms when they suspect someone is committing adultery.
Before you completely discount me, I’d like to ask you to consider this suggestion and turn one of the states in Borneo – Sabah and Sarawak into a Malaysian version of Bali.
In Sarawak, I was impressed with the Santubong beach when I visited the area a long time ago to attend the Rainforest Music Festival while in Sabah, my suggestion would be to consider a hilly area like Kundasang.
I have been to Sabah but not to Kundasang but the place looks great in photos and looks like a great place to be converted into a place similar to Bali.
Sabah and Sarawak would be your best bet because these two spots have a large non-Muslim population and would be great to be turned into a place that is similar to Bali.
Tourists want to go visit areas where there are bars and clubs with cheap beer. This is what has been drawing tourists to the Islands Of The Gods for years.
If you can emulate this and turn one of the spots within the two Borneo states you own into a haram spot where all things religious are operated at a bare minimum then I am sure you will have cash flowing into the economy at any time of the day regardless of what the situation is in the other parts of the country.
And finally, the Aussies would have a reason to visit Malaysia. Remember, Aussies don’t want clean fun, what they do want is another Bali, though. And Malaysia is sure to be able to do that if it can bend the rules on this a wee bit. Just my two cents.
Stay tuned for my Bali travels write-ups which appear on this site exclusively starting next week.
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June Ramli is the editor of DailyStraits.com. To stay in touch with June, look her up on Twitter @junesairaramli