Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Merdeka : a day to celebrate and reflect

Merdeka : a day to reflect on our shortcomings

We are just days from our 50th.National Day. There is an air of festivity and excitement throughout the country. Various generations celebrate in ways peculiar to their own experiences in life in our beloved nation, as it turns 50.The government has lined up a host of events and activities to mark the occasion.

Our achievements since independence are definitely a cause of celebration and joy. At the same time it should be also a day to recollect our failures and shortcomings. While celebrating our victories it is also the time to resolve to right the wrongs in our country.

A number of issues need to be urgently addressed otherwise all our achievements will be meaningless. Some of theses include the deteriorating racial and religious tolerance, rampant corruption, high road accident rate, unacceptably high crime rate, unavailability of affordable quality education, costly basic health care, poverty, unemployment, arrogant and indifferent civil service, lack of freedom of expression and respect for human rights and an alarming deterioration of moral and human values.

A truly independent nation should fulfill the aspirations of all her citizens alike. No distinction should be made based on ethnicity, religion, political alienation or socio-economic status. It must meet the following criteria:

1.A democratic system of government that is sensitive to the needs of all

2.Rights of all, including the minorities are assured and protected.

3.The rule of law must be upheld at all costs.

4.Eradication of poverty should be above race, religion and politics

5.True meritocracy in the recruitment to the institutions of higher learning, public service, police and armed forces.

For the ordinary rakyat, Merdeka will only be meaningful if he has a decent job, decent food, proper shelter, proper transport, affordable health care, reasonable education for the children, freedom to worship, an independent justice system, and a safe and secure environment for him and his loved ones.

Above all, he needs to be appreciated and respected for his contributions to his country, however meager they may be. In short, he needs to be treated as a legitimate citizen and not as a stranger or an alien in his own land

Unless these needs are fulfilled, Merdeka will not and have any meaning for the ordinary man on the street. To him it will just be another public holiday to witness the various celebrations that have been lined up.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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