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"If fast food franchises were the indicators of progress, having a KFC meant nothing. A McD's ranked higher on the scale.. a Pizza Hut or a Deli, now we're talking.."
- Idlan Zakaria

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Malaysia

Changes
by Idlan R. Zakaria, 22, Selangor, Malaysia
Sep 1, 1999

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I live in a relatively small, university town called Bandar Baru Bangi. It's a couple of miles away from Kajang, in the state of Selangor, which is on the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. We're also about 45 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. Kajang is famous for a delicacy called 'satay', but more about that in another piece.

Anyway, I've basically lived in Bandar Baru Bangi for at least half my life. We moved here when I was eleven, and I'm 22 now. And throughout the years, I've seen this small town go through so many changes, I don't know if I should start screaming 'whopeee' and dance around in my underwear, or at the risk of sounding melodramatic, sigh at the loss of innocence progress brings.

When we first moved here way back, this place would perhaps qualify as a finalist for the 'boondocks' title. We didn't have a shopping complex or a supermarket for miles, there was no properly scheduled public transport service, and it was impossible to move around without someone knowing who you were, who your parents were and what prize you got at the last school prize giving day.

Kajang wasn't much better. It had a small time supermarket chain, no decent book store, a couple of seedy restaurants and, as every cowboy town in Malaysia has, a KFC.

If fast food franchises were the indicators of progress, having a KFC meant nothing. A McD's ranked higher on the scale. But if you have a Pizza Hut or a Deli, now we're talking. Bear in mind that this isn't America, people, and Maude's Diner charges twice as much for food as the local Thai food restaurant.

Then I left for boarding school, and this meant I was home for cumulatively just 3 months a year. But even in those three months, I witnessed some changes. Kajang finally had a McD's (yeehaa!!). The next year, I discovered there was actually a decent bookstore carrying my English soccer magazines AND Rolling Stone! And finally, just over 3 years ago, Kajang opened the doors of its first mall, complete with a nationwide supermarket chain. Then, not soon after, even good old Bandar Baru Bangi had its own mall. Modernisation had indeed arrived.

What about Cyberjaya?

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