2 July 2015
Most of us would know about the Rukunegara; the five principles which are supposed to be the foundations of a national ethos. Not that many will know that there is a preamble to the five principles.
The preamble consists of five points but I would like to focus on only one for this article. This is the last point in the preamble and it states that “Whereas our country Malaysia nurtures the ambition of building a progressive society that will make use of science and modern technology”.
Looking at this line, what strikes me are the words “progressive society” and “science and technology”. What this aspiration means to me is that we are to move forward as a society in a rational and scientific manner. To make progress based on reason and logic and by implication move away from irrationality and backwardness.
This was our aspiration in 1970 and yet today we still behave as though we are living in the dark ages. Petty issues become national talking points because of small minded people (usually men) who unfortunately hold positions of authority.
Thus for many days one can’t open the newspaper without reading about some poor young woman being criticized for her athletic outfit. Criticized by men who seem incapable of simply turning the channel if they don’t like to see her in her leotard. Nor are they capable to see their own hypocritical sexism and misogyny for if you think the young lady’s outfit as indecent, why then was there no uproar about men who wear a tiny garment literally known as “a pouch” while they strut on a stage flexing their muscles?
Or what about stupid rules which envisions the fall of society as we know it if a woman’s knees were to be seen in a government building. What kind of idiot will think that it is alright to force their own backward view as to what constitutes decency and what does not on the world. Especially when we are talking about government buildings which by definition means that these are places paid for and maintained by the people’s money for the purpose of serving the people (with exposed knees or not).
Now of course in any society there will always be those whose mind work on values more suited to a millennia ago. After all there are millions of us and naturally there will be all sorts of people with all sorts of mindsets. In our country you see reason and rationality triumph occasionally. For example in the recent case concerning those moronic tourists on Mt Kinabalu, the judge made a wonderful decision which punished the idiots as well as satisfying local customs without pandering to the more extreme voices which would blame a bunch of brainless fools for the seismic shifts of the earth.
In other words, if we have wise men and women in actual positions of decision making, it does not matter how crazy some of our people might be, it won’t have any serious effects because at the end of the day rationality will prevail. In other words if those in leadership positions think progressively then regressive voices will be little more than empty noises.
Unfortunately, I am not sure even if good leadership is sufficient. If we look at our situation now, the misogynistic comments on our gymnast’s outfit came from the head religious civil servant of one of our states; we have an ex top judge who seems incapable of understanding that our Constitution is a secular one; we have a leader who is misguided enough to think that building a house of worship using funds of a scandal plagued body will somehow absolve it of any suspicion in the eyes of a gullible public.
In other words, all these backward voices unfortunately doesn’t just come from the masses but amongst the upper echelons of those holding power. If that is the case, what about the rest of the country? This being so, just how much hope does anyone have in redirecting this lost country back towards “building a progressive society that will make use of science and modern technology”.