In some senses, Kuala Lumpur is a libertarian haven full of consumer choices from the moment one steps off the plane. On the taxi ride into the KLCC advertisement boards of cars, holiday destinations and higher education bombarded me.
There was even a sign promoting the fact KL now had their first Android vending machine! If not for the fact that I was going to a think tank called Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) whose main goal is to promote democracy in a country full of corruption – you would think I had reached a capitalistic utopia.
This first week has flown past. I’ve been placed in Research alongside another intern Vivian who has thankfully taken me under her wing to teach me basic Malay. I’ve spent the week editing a draft about higher education called “University Autonomy in Malaysia” which is to be discussed at a round table discussion next week.
I was delegated the role of creating this year’s “annual and medical leave” spreadsheet which put my basic IT knowledge to the test. With three new vaping legislation proposals about to be presented in parliament, I was asked to research media releases from the Ministry of Health and any other sources to predict what the new government regulations may be.
I find myself learning the most about Malaysian politics, economics and culture when talking to the staff and interns at IDEAS. Every conversation I have leaves with a new perspective which I thank Mannkal for giving me the opportunity to experience.
I spend my free time wandering around the city, often in amazement that shopping centres are open until 10pm on weeknights, that I spend only $1.50 on meals and wished I had checked ahead at how much chocolate costs in Malaysia (because it costs a lot).
Overall, it’s been a great first week and I can’t wait for the weeks to follow.