Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Returning to rationality

Brave New World (The Star)
10 December 2014

Amidst the pessimism and cynicism, both the old and the young are looking for constructive ways to stop the rot.


PERHAPS it is just me, but I get the sense that the prevailing mood in Malaysia is one of pessimism and uncertainty. Right now, I do not know where the country is headed and I am not optimistic that we are going in the right direction.
The Rukun Negara is famous for its five principles but as a preamble to those principles, the document lays down what was deemed to be the aspirations of the country and they are: to be a democratic, progressive and modern nation with an equitable sharing of wealth and a liberal approach towards our multiculturalism.
It is a very forward-thinking list of aspirations. Yet at the moment, it does not feel like we are moving forward at all. In fact, the converse is true – we appear to be inexorably moving backwards.
The price of living is going up and yet for the vast majority of us, income does not appear to be matching this rise.
Faith in institutions of governance is low, as can be seen in the cynical responses towards the Commission of Inquiry (its royal status seems to be a matter of some confusion) regarding the so-called “Project IC” in Sabah.
Divisive and downright nasty voices of extremism, bigotry and racism appear to have carte blanche to spread their poisonous ideology without even a whimper of protest from the powers that be.
In fact, some of those voices appear to be coming from the powers that be themselves.
Repressive and oppressive laws are not only embraced with gusto, but are going to be made even more repressive and oppressive. And the voices that support them use such noble words to defend these laws – words like “security” and “unity”.
Yet they do not provide one iota of proof as to how these laws, which are incidentally selectively used, are going to achieve all these wonderful ideals.
My worry, therefore, is that we are headed towards becoming a poorer nation. Poorer in the sense of material security, human freedom and dignity, progressive thinking and peace.
I see no sign whatsoever that those whose hands we have given the power to govern care one jot about this. All that they seem to care about is maintaining the status quo.
But the status quo is not working. The way things are done in this country is not going to help us grow and develop.
The status quo will prevent us from nurturing progressive ideas with which to provide the intellectual vitality needed to thrust us into the 21st century.
In fact, it will keep us in a state of division, superstition, feudalism and backwardness.
In the beginning, I said perhaps I am the only one who feels this way. I do not think so.
I see a hunger for improvement amongst the young. Our youths today are miles ahead of youths twenty years ago.
They have access to information and methods of communication that my generation can only dream about. And many of them realise that things cannot remain as they are.
I also see the older generation despairing at the direction this nation is taking, to the point that they are willing to put name to paper in a desperate call for a return to values of rationality and moderation.
I see many ordinary Malaysians who are tired of feeling helpless, looking for constructive ways to stop this rot.
In short I see pessimism, but I also see a definite conviction to say enough is enough. It is time to reclaim this country from the divisive, small-minded and retrogressive.
It is time, and many are ready.

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