Seeing the need to balance my previous posting on misgivings with regards to beautiful Malaysia, I would like to mention some nice things here.
1. Malaysia has some of the best dive sites in the world. Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai, Lankayan, Mataking, Layang-Layang, Mantanani, Perhentian, Redang, Tenggol, Tioman, Dayang, and the list goes on. Of course, we don't have as many islands as Indonesia, but our dive sites are very accessible. For example, if you live in Kota Kinabalu, you can dive just about everyday. You can do an early morning dive at Pulau Sapi, and still make it to office by 9AM. You could even dive at lunchtime, if you have a 2 hour break! Peninsular Malaysia's East Coast islands are comparable to many of the resort islands in SE Asia.
2. Malaysia is one of the 12 biodiversity hotspots in the world. We have rich tropical forests filled with still undiscovered species. Tourists travel from around the globe just to experience the wild jungles that are millions of years old (according to the scientists). We have the biggest flower in the world, the Rafflesia. We have the biggest cavern in the world, the Sarawak Chamber. We have the highest peak in SE Asia, Mount Kinabalu. The forests of Peninsular Malaysia are one of the last remaining viable habitats of the tiger in the world.
3. We have lots of good food. Of course, you could argue that Malaysian cuisine is not pure or "pedigree" stuff. It's all mixed up. Chinese food here is not the same as Chinese food in China or Hong Kong or Taiwan. Indian food here is not exactly Indian food from India. And Malay food has absorbed flavours from the various traditions converging here. I'm not an expert on cooking (but I can eat!), but as long as it tastes good, it's OK with me. I don't need a fancy restaurant. Just gimme good food. Hahaha. Maybe I should brush up on my cooking... I'll need a big brush.
5. Malaysia is seen as a exemplary model of racial harmony in a pluralistic society. Despite the hiccups, stumbles, blunders and tragedies in Malaysia's history, today many developing countries look up to Malaysia as a model for managing ethnic, religious and cultural diversity. It's not perfect, but much better than a lot of other countries. Some developed nations have even taken a look at how diverse Malaysian society holds together, hoping to learn some lessons on how to adapt to the increasing ethnic and cultural diversity that is the result of globalisation and immigration.
6. Malaysia is blessed with natural resources and free from major natural disasters. The earthquake belt hits Sumatra, south of Malaysia. Typhoons hit the Philippines, north of Malaysia. We suffer the tail ends of disasters that strike our neighbours, but never receive the full brunt. In this respect, all citizens and residents of Malaysia should thank God for this providence, and never take it for granted. It has been predicted that if an earthquake occurs in the northern Andaman Sea, a tsunami wave could possibly be generated that would travel directly down the Straits of Melaka and wreak devastation on the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
7. Malaysia has smart people. Unfortunately, not all of them become politicians and leaders.
8. Malaysia is home to the best rice in the world. It's Bario rice, grown in the paddies of the highlands of Bario, Sarawak. You just gotta try this rice. It's so good you can even eat it on its own. :P
9. Malaysia has a decent to excellent standard (depending on where you live) of infrastructure, like roads, telecommunications, water, electricity. It's just how we distribute and manage it that becomes the issue.
10. Malaysia is such a lovely place that even Singapore wants to be next to us... :) OK, please don't shoot me for saying this... I was just kidding. Freedom of speech ma. But honestly speaking, Malaysia has much to learn from Down South, especially in the area of government efficiency.
Disclaimer: The list above is not meant to be an exhaustive nor authoritative list of pats on the back for Malaysia. The list is subject to amendment, whether for better or for worse, at any time.