I love this kind of contrast.
Within Southeast Asia, it is at its starkest in Vietnam.
I have been to Laos with its own nominally communist government. The hammer and the sickle would adorn lamp posts and facades in Vientianne and Luang Prabang, reminding tourists and locals alike the insecurity of those in power. But deep in the Mekong heartland, commercialization is still at its infancy, rugged and all. There are contrasts, but not like how it is in Vietnam, where consumerism is embraced wholeheartedly decades after American troops were chased out, sparking Malaysia’s first refugee crisis.
Malaysia received those Vietnamese refugees about 30-40 years ago, unwillingly. They are grateful to us, it seems, regardless of our intention.
Not much has changed today as Malaysia experiences its third refugee crisis, the second, I think, being the one caused by the civil war in southern Philippines. This time around, the new refugees from Myanmar are just a political football game to be played by the corrupt.