Bring Us Home Once More, MAS.

I was an airlines kid. To be specific, I was a MAS kid. My dad worked with the national carrier as a cashier (or an accountant without the degree, we like to call it), and I spent a lot of time (well, a lot more than kids my age back then) prancing around the Penang airport, slurping root beer from the old A&W outlet and playing with colorful plastic balls in KFC.

Due to staff privileges, we often flew to KL during our school holidays to visit our uncle and cousins at a very much discounted ticket price.  So often, that I didn’t know it was actually possible to get to KL by car or bus back then. I thought everybody flew to KL, and I thought everybody flew with MAS.

My dad wasn’t a pilot, nor was he some big shot manager in the company, but we all knew he held MAS in high regards all the time. Eventhough he’s cool as a cucumber and hardly gets excited about things, whenever he talks about MAS, his eyes would give a hint of a sparkle. Even until today.

I remember my first domestic flight as a YP (Young Passenger) at a tender age of 9. The cabin crew was so friendly and made me feel like a VIP on board (I was showered with color pencils, crayons, coloring books, toys, and I got to be the first to board and leave the plane, etc.) and made sure that I was picked up by the correct person from the airport. My love for flying grew, and there was once that I wanted to become the first female commercial pilot in Malaysia (but someone beat me to it, unfortunately).

My first international flight was with my family and my aunt’s family to Singapore, and soon, we would make family trips to Auckland, Sydney and Beijing (yes, we were on board MH370 many years ago, and we even got a free upgrade to business class on our way home).  And every single time we touched down on home ground, we would be greeted by the familiar and comforting line,

“Thank you for flying with Malaysia Airlines. And to all Malaysians, welcome home.”

When my dad retired, I had the first taste of the reality of transitioning from MAS to budget carriers like Air Asia and other airlines alike. They’re not bad, they get me to the places I need to be – but they don’t have something MAS has. They don’t give me the sense of homecoming as much as MAS does.  Working for a national oil company has somewhat allowed me to see why my dad took so much pride working for a national carrier. If it wasn’t for ourselves (minus the cronies and politics), it was very much for the people. At least for me, it is.

So it’s sad when tragedies like MH370 and MH17 happen. Of all carriers, it had to be the one bearing our national flag. I hate to admit it, but it somewhat reflects where our country is heading. Unity, tolerance, justice, democracy and racial harmony have all gone missing – and the way some powerful people have been making headlines with mindless remarks and threatening their own people shows that diplomacy, common sense and sensibility have all but crashed and burned.

Yet, they say, in every cloud there is a silver lining. While I see many fingers pointing and jabbing at MAS, I also see a number of people (citizens and non-citizens alike) waving their continuous support in flying with the national carrier. Skeptics may call it blind loyalty, while others see it as hope. Hope that maybe, in the midst of adversity, unity can be found once again.

Just like MAS, it isn’t Malaysia’s fault for becoming who she is perceived today. She is just but a country, filled with abundance and resources – but poor governance and recent events have smeared her good name.

Can they both be saved? I really don’t know. But what I do know is there are folks out there who are trying to, and that’s what really matters. Will I still fly with MAS? Yes, for as long as she exists (and my wallet allows). Will I still want to be known as Malaysian? Despite some idiots who graze the front pages of our daily news, I am and will always identify as a Malaysian. No one makes nasi lemak nor speak three languages in one sentence like we do.

My heartfelt condolences go to those who have lost their loved ones in the MH370 and MH17 incidents. I, too, know someone who has perished in the tragic MH17 flight. But let us not let this parting be in vain. Underneath the rubble and ashes of despair, I hope that we can all come to a realization that we are not immortals, and that time is limited for us to salvage whatever good that is left in our country.

We may not have the power to bring MH370 home, or bring MH17 back to life – but we can try to search for the things that have gone missing for awhile now – unity, tolerance, justice, democracy and racial harmony. The core values that used to define us as Malaysians.

Then maybe, we’ll truly rejoice and celebrate whenever we hear the phrase,

“To all Malaysians, welcome home.”

 

In memory of Elaine Teoh, an ex-schoolmate who will always be known for her smile. And to all the passengers of flight MH17.

71 Replies to “Bring Us Home Once More, MAS.”

  1. I decided to leave my comment here because i want to congratulate you on an exceptional heartfelt piece that made me want to cry. Perhaps this is the tragedy which will unite Malaysians amidst all the stupidity and bickering, the racist remarks and holier-than-thou, entitlement attitude. I almost forgot you are a MAS child! My first flight ever was on MAS too, as a first year uni student travelling on discounted rates and flying from the old Subang airport no less! MAS needs to revamp itself and rid itself of bad management and rise like the proverbial phoenix out of the ashes – definitely no pun intended at all. Keep writing because I know you are more writer than engineer 🙂 no matter what you say.

    1. Thanks, Krista. As usual, you’re one of the few who knows me better than anyone else. I just hope that things will turn out for the better for MAS. They’ve had so much crap thrown at them this year already.

  2. I’m flying home with MAS, though my trip is domestic and will not hear “Welcome Home” I feel home whenever I’m flying with MAS.

    (nevermind the fact I’ve worked with other airline for a bit, it may be a little bit blasphemous but I secretly will always love MAS) 🙂

  3. Well said…..Heard three days ago that a friend’s sister and brother-in-law were on board. Soul searching time for all. Prayers continue for all passengers and crew of MH17 and MH370 and deepest condolences to their families and friends. No words can describe these heart wrenching moment all are going through.

    1. Hi Grace, I’m sorry for your friend’s loss. Indeed, it’s tragic when the probability of it is so low, and it just had to be someone we know. Thanks for dropping by, and keep the faith!

  4. Excellent piece! Had tears in my eyes reading it.

    I was on Air Asia a few weeks back and yeah, the stewardess did utter the “to all Malaysian, welcome home” but it doesn’t have the same feel like the one on MAS.

    1. Thanks, Addy. This piece has certainly made an impact beyond what I thought. I silently rejoice each time my company books a MAS ticket for whenever I travel – it feels like going home.

  5. That was a good read, I have not even been on MAS but you make me wanna pick up a ticket real soon. I am not a Malaysian but living here for six years has afforded me the opportunity to experience the uniqueness of this land. Maybe some of the reasons I have argued endlessly online regarding this whole epistle. My condolence to the entire family of MH370 and MH17 victims.

    Really a tragic occurrence and thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    1. Hi Samed, it’s nice to know that even expatriates like yourself are able to notice the bits and pieces that make Malaysia special. In all honesty, these tragedies could have happened to anyone, or any airline for that matter. Perhaps this is a wake-up call to all of us to live life to the fullest, and not to take each day for granted. Because heaven knows when would be our last.

  6. Hi! From another MAS kid. I know exactly what you mean by the excitement in their eyes when our parents talk about MAS. It was always the topic of our dinner conversations for as long as I can remember, until today.

    Condolences to you and others who lost. X

    1. Hi Ruz! Nice to know someone who’s had the same experience. I’ve always thought MAS as one big family. At least that’s how they made me feel whenever I visited my dad at work last time. 🙂

  7. Thank you for this. I have been flying my entire life, ever since I was a month-old baby – I don’t know if I was a MAS kid specifically, but we definitely flew MAS a lot, and I have fond memories of it. I even flew MH17 (or at least the same route) back in 2007 and got upgraded to Business Class on the way home just like you did.

    I have a very complicated relationship with Malaysia (mostly stemming from being the Johor-born kid of Bangladeshi parents and everyone really hating on Bangladeshis) but MH370 and MH17 really broke my heart. Your article speaks to a lot of what I was feeling – frustration at the governance of the country, but still with a heart for the people.

    Thank you for putting my feelings into words.

    1. Hi Creatrix Tiara,

      Thanks for dropping by. Looks like we’ve had quite the similar experience with MAS. I’m sorry you’ve experienced some difficult times living in Malaysia, but I hope you haven’t given up on her. The stigmas and perceptions are formed by careless comments by careless people, and it’s sad to see that even other local ethnic groups are constantly being put down by those in authority. Every day, they give us a reason to give up – but then I’d meet someone of a different background from me, someone like you, who pops by on a random day with kindness. And then everything becomes alright again.

      Perhaps, one day, such kindness will permeate throughout the land and we’ll get the fresh start that we need. 🙂

  8. Very well said Weivern what an article that pulls at the heartstrings…and saying that I die a thousand deaths hearing about the 2 MAS tragedies. Living abroad for decades now….I still feel proud of our country and our national carrier and hope like a phoenix it will rise again to glory! Always on my mind…

    yours sincerely

    1. Hi Sharon, thank you. It’s very encouraging to know that Malaysians abroad are still thinking of us and hoping for the best. May you come home to a better, stronger Malaysia one day. 🙂

  9. An excellent piece of article with great reflections of the writer emotion and love for the nation and the national carrier. Contrary to what we get in the media everyday, where the voices of the politically mooted minority seem to be louder in dividing the people. There are still many true Malaysians with the right minds like you weivern to constantly remind us of the nation that we all love. Similar in any nation or group, there bound to have some who loves to destruct and fortunaly there are also many who would rather construct quietly or in their own ways, just like you weivern. I see hope….

    1. Thanks for your kind comment, Khoo. I’m sure there are many who still believe in the greater good for the country. There is hope, don’t stop believing! 🙂

  10. Reading your article brought tears to my eyes. Very well said. I am a MAS kid as well and I only ever flew MAS growing up, I had a great sense of attachment and loyalty to MAS. Living overseas now, it is difficult explaining to people how I feel about MH370 and MH17. Why I cried when the Malaysian team walked into the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony with those in front wearing MAS crew uniform. Puts my feelings into words. Thank you.

    1. Hi, Anita. I guess, only a MAS kid will understand another on why these incidents mean a little more to us. Hopefully, in the future when you make a trip back to Malaysia, you’ll be able to hear those familiar words again. 🙂

  11. tolerance used to be a good word.. almost perfect article. perhaps to replace tolerance with acceptance. we shdnt just be tolerating each other, but accepting the fact that this country called Malaysia is the only country we call home and we are all here to stay!

    1. Weiling, you are right. I suppose acceptance would be a better word, but what made me smile is that the suggestion comes from a fellow Malaysian. Perhaps there is hope after all. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by.

  12. Hello weivern.

    Just came across this thanks to Marina Mahathir sharing it.

    The family of 6 Sarawakians onboard were relatives of mine. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this since the day it happened, and I’m glad I read what you had to say. The loss is almost an abstract one at times, as though we are content with wanting to protect ourselves from the horror of what actually happened. On an objective level, we know they’re gone. But other parts of us just want to believe they’re overseas or have migrated, even if we don’t verbalise it. And then it hits you.

    We flew MAS, Kuching to KL, on Sunday, coming back from Raya celebrations. It was a bittersweet feeling, seeing that familiar logo and typeface, and looking at that familiar livery. Words cannot really describe what it felt like getting onboard, and seeing all of the attendants smile as though it were just another working day. You’d imagine that they’d be feeling absolutely horrible on the inside.

    But they smiled anyway. We could do with some of that spirit too, no matter what nonsense or idiocy we have to put up with in this country.

    They say that the darkest time of the day is right before dawn. Maybe, just maybe, we are on the verge of ours, thanks to sentiments such as yours.

    Have a lovely day.

    1. Hi, Rafie. Your comment came as a surprise because I didn’t think it’d reach Marina Mahathir, let alone her sharing it. I’m really sorry for your loss, and I know no words can express the emptiness and grief one must feel in such times. And yet, you’ve not given up on us, which alone I think puts a lump in my throat.

      “But they smiled anyway.”

      Yes, they sure did, and they will because they know that’s what they have to do. And the way I see it, this little gesture has inspired many other Malaysians to rise above and stand together from events that might have teared us apart.

      Thank you, for your inspirational words. And may this Raya be even more meaningful to you and your family. Selamat Hari Raya.

      1. It looks like you have some high-profile lurkers and readers 🙂

        Selamat Hari Raya to you too! It was (relatively) subdued this year. But we made sure to enjoy the occasion, because life goes on, no matter what happens to you or those around you. I can only hope MAS weathers this storm and comes out stronger than ever.

        Clear skies, all the way till morning.

  13. Very nicely written indeed! Staying near Subang Airport, it gives me a sense of pride just to see the planes with the MAS logo landing or taking off. Hope they’ll continue to soar high up the sky forever and ever.

    1. Thank you, Yim CK. I stayed near the airport too because it was nearer to where my dad worked. And each time a plane flew overhead, I’d run to the balcony just to catch it. Well, that’s until we got so used to it we hardly noticed it anymore. But yes, I pray we’ll continue to carry the national identity with us to even higher places. 🙂

  14. I really had the good fortune of reading your article.
    Indeed it’s a brilliant piece. You’ve earned my respect as I can sense a true reflection of you as a person that has humanity,love and care toward nation and people.
    Excellent piece …Thumbs up (y)
    Keep writing…

  15. Just when the skies look so dark, comes a beacon like you. Left me misty eyed. Brought back memories of overnights at Subang airport waiting for student standby seats too. Very touching article!

  16. Thanks for writing such a beautiful piece, exactly my feelings. Touched a raw nerve with ‘To all Malaysians, welcome home!’

  17. Im just here to say you’re awesome. We Malaysians are awesome so lets stay united as always! Thank you for this article. 😀

  18. uwaaaaaaaaaa!!! i cried n cried while reading this….coz i feeeelll you !!!! I missed d ROJAK Malaysian that we used to be. We don’t hae to use to use the 1Malaysia word. the ROJAK in us already ONE Malaysia without even saying it. I love my chinese indian iban murut orang asli frens & relatives. I hate whats going on rite now. so racists! I missed the harmony & the love that we had. Lets bring those LOVE back again in our country. I LOVE MAS..& every Malaysian should love & support MAS too coz MAS is our nation’s pride.
    I pray that Allah will always protect us all Malaysian wherever we are.

    1. Hi Shahidah! OK OK…. don’t cry anymore ok… nanti I also cry because of you.. I like the way you said we don’t need any labels to define us, as we already ROJAK as it is. Keep on believing, and keep on striving to create that peace and harmony around you, so we can inspire others to do the same. 😉 I’m with you on this!

  19. Ah, so nice to read another MAS’ kid post.
    We grew up with MAS and to know that MAS was once a great examplery airline, we continue hoping that it will achieve such great heights once more.
    Thanks for reminding me again and the rest of us, that we are indeed one big extended family.
    🙂

  20. This is beautiful.

    I feel every strand of attachment that you have written down growing up as a MAS kid myself. 🙂 I am currently also in the airline industry upholding the company’s communication front and nothing makes my day more than knowing one of us are still out there, proud and strong, knowing MAS beautiful legacy.

    As a fellow Malaysian and MAS child, cheers. 🙂

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