Wednesday, November 02, 2005
(f)time = x-ness
This morning, I went to the Malaysian High Commission to renew my passport. I was slightly apprehensive about the whole thing because I had read many accounts of High Commission staff behaving rudely to applicants and I had also read in several first-hand accounts that they made things difficult for Malaysians who have not been back in a long time, to the point of refusing to process passports of those they deem ex patria for an 'unpatriotic' amount of time. (I wonder how Jimmy Choo manages.)

I found the staff to be unfailingly polite. However, the lady who attended to me at the visa counter did ask me when I was last in Malaysia. She said it in the manner of Chris Tarrant posing a question to a contestant at the half-million mark—that I was nearly there but had one final hurdle to pass which I had better not flub. Fortunately, I had in my passport a Jabatan Imigresen exit stamp from September. Still, I found it odd that she noted down this fact clearly on my passport renewal application form, not that any space was provided for it.

I think the question was uncalled for. How does it affect my passport application process and what does it have to do with my Malaysian-ness, as it were? If that simplistic line of reasoning were to be followed through to its logical conclusion—that identity is only a function of time—should I not be free from the prejudices directed at me from more myopic quarters in Malaysian society determined to treat me as an immigrant in my own country due to my Chinese origins? After all, I have not been 'back' to China in three generations now. Identity is a function of choice.

posted by Hong at 4:25 pm | Permalink |