Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year2010 – Will it be another year of hopelessness?

Racial unity is the only way forward

We entered the year 2009 with great hopes after the historic 12GE of 2008 when Malaysians rose above all racial divide to vote for change, a change they hoped will bring greater accountability and transparency in governance. With a stronger and more formidable opposition there were hopes for the first time for the evolution of a two-party system for a better check and balance. There were hopes for the dismantling of racial politics whereby all citizens will be considered as Malaysians without any racial prejudice. These were the hopes of the people that were carried into 2009, many of which still remain to be fulfilled.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak took over the reins of power at a time of great political and economical uncertainties. Despite the adverse environment he did try not let the people down. His economic liberalization policies, attempts to get closer to the people and his 1Malaysia policy for the first time in decades raised the hopes of the people for a fair, just and progressive Malaysia. While there are still many who are yet to be convinced of his sincerity in wanting changes and his capability to take them through, nevertheless his initiatives are commendable.

Ethnic relations continue to be thorny issue that is threatening the peace, stability and progress of the nation. It appears to be underlying cause of the numerous problems that were encountered in 2009 and may be continuing to face this year and for some years to come.

Despite all the hype of 1Malaysia, eradication of race-based politics and adoption of meritocracy, no concrete results have come about. The only encouraging fact is that there is general awareness among the people of all races for the need of eradicating race-based policies for the long term well being of the country. The opposition seems to be consistent with its multiracial platform so is Najib trying to with his 1Malaysia policy which pledges to accord equal treatment for all races. Although more and more people are in support of a multiracial approach yet there are still many who prefer to stick to the racial politics of the past.

The race-based policies in education, job opportunities and economy over the last four decades have resulted in the severe brain drain that is affecting the quality of our services and competiveness in the global world where pure merits is what is relevant. We cannot afford to be continuously losing our best talents to others because of some unfair and obsolete policies based on ethnicity. The world is a totally different playground today where inclusion of only the best from all races will stand a chance to win.

It is time for the people to reject racist policies and those who perpetrate them. In promoting the 1Malaysia policy, the government must act tough against those who demonstrate racial or religious extremism of any form regardless who they are and whichever party they belong to. The quicker we get over racial and religious bigotry the better for the nation as a whole. There is no way to a better future for us and our children we put aside racial prejudice and accept one another as fellow Malaysians.

Corruption continues to be a major problem despite the many promises and attempts by the government to eradicate it. The establishment of the MACC with more powers to fight corruption was well received by the people. However the anti-graft body has yet to convince the people of its will and commitment to combat corruption. It seems to have been bogged down with one controversy after another and has been straddled with credibility problems especially with the death of Teoh Beng Hock. The people at large are yet to be convinced of its political impartiality and real commitment to fight graft.

With the new head of MACC, Malaysians hope that the agency will be able to demonstrate a new zeal in fighting graft at the highest level without any fear or favor. The people are watching to see whether under the new chief the MACC will be able to affect major breakthroughs in the investigations of mega corruption scandals that have rocked the nation.

In this fight the people too have an important role. There is the need for the people to reflect on their own attitude regarding corruption. I am afraid they may be accepting it as a norm in politics and business, which is indeed a sad development. With such casual public attitude to corruption how can we succeed in checking this evil that is depleting our national coffers to result in the country going bankrupt?

Meanwhile the nation is going more and more into a state of lawlessness and chaos. There is no respect for law and order. The Federal Constitution is being blatantly trampled upon with little consideration for its consequences. The police, judiciary and the civil service as a whole are clearly seen to be on the side of the ruling party. This was clearly shown in the constitutional crisis in Perak.

The lawlessness is reflected in the high crime rate that is escalating at an unbelievable pace so much so people are fearful of going about their chores in peace. Even staying at home behind heavily fortified walls does not seem to guarantee their safety.

The accident rate too is increasing at a pace that our roads have become major killing fields. Thousands of lives are lost every year in road accidents. Inconsiderate drivers and road bullies appear to have taken control of our roads where the innocent and law abiding citizens become victims.

Immoral behavior especially among the young is threatening to disrupt the value system that we hold so dearly. Family unit is under threat of disintegration where respect for elders is fast declining. We seem to be taken in by a new culture of accumulating wealth at any cause, without respect to established and cherished value systems of the past.

We look around and see many of our friends, whom we lived and played together as children, are leaving in despair to greener pastures. They see no brighter future in the land that they had slogged to build their homes all these years, the land that had made them what they now. Yes, many are leaving reluctantly, with heavy hearts, not for their future but for the future of the children and grandchildren.

There is mounting pressure on us to do the same but something deep our my hearts tell us that we must not give up but stay and battle on to make our nation great again as it used to be. We may be too small to change things in a big way but at least we must try in our own little ways with the power we have, our vote. Deep in our hearts we know there can be no better place for our children than this land which the people of all races toiled to build together.

Despite this gloom we are stepping foot into the second decade of the new millennium with hope that change will come soon to our beloved land. The only reassurance we carry into 2010 is that hope for change. We hope for the increasing maturity and wisdom of the people to reject racism in all its forms. We hope the political landscape will change for the better to a two-party multiracial system.
Only with these two fundamental changes can we break loose from the chains that restrain us from moving forward to build a united and progressive nation where every citizen will be proud to call himself a Malaysian. This change can only be brought about by us alone and nobody else.

Like Martin Luther King, let us all cherish a dream that the day will soon come when all Malaysians can live together once again in peace and harmony without suspicion of one another despite all our differences.

As we gather in mosques, temples and churches on this New Year let us pray that God will make us realize that dream in the not so distant future.

A Happy and Hopeful New Year

Dr.Chris Anthony

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