Friday, June 21, 2024

Who Are We as a Nation?

In the spirit of celebrating Malaysia Day, which is around the corner, I would like to reflect how far we have actually progressed, whether we have become better in every way as a nation and what independence really means.

What I have witnessed growing up is a slow and insidious divide of them against us. Something I remember we accused the British of, but we seem to do it better.

I remember a time of meritocracy – people with real talent, no matter what race or religion they were, excelled in the respective roles given to them, be it as statesmen, civil servants, business or ambassadors of the country to the world in sports music, fashion and movies.

It was a Golden Era where we saw each other as Malaysians, and we worked together, laughed together, ate together, danced together and just that sheer one-ness made us strong and respected. We were unbeatable, one of the fastest growing nations in Asia and a Southeast Asian Tiger.

When we excelled as a people, the nation excelled with us.

Then we decided to self-destruct.

We decided to leave everything in the hands of a few people who did not have the best interests of the rakyat at heart.

The campaign to intensify the Divide and Rule Agenda happened. To make the Malay afraid of the non-Malay because they are ‘going to take away their rights’ and creating fear and resentment amongst the non-Malays that they will never be good enough not matter how hard they try, resulting in a huge brain drain of the younger generation choosing to leave Malaysia. We created two classes of people and became the only country in the world to have affirmation action for the majority.

Constant fanning of race & religious sentiments ensured that the people will always be afraid of one another and fight each other, so that the party of the day can control the people and ‘protect’ them from one another.

News became propaganda, police and military started serving the party of the day and not the people and the rakyat became insignificant.

I have watched this happen to my country with a heavy heart.

The rakyat just want to put food on the table and ensure our families are protected and cared for and our community thrives. It is as simple as that. People on the ground look at each other as human beings and treat each other with respect based on how they are treated. We never grow up seeing someone as a race, religion or colour – this is what we are taught by those who seek to divide us.

The role of our leaders is to ensure perfect harmony, not to create more and more divides amongst people and create disharmony through race baiting exercises.

Our leaders should not be setting up businesses in competition to the people it is collecting taxes from. It should be encouraging businesses to thrive. Our leaders should be teaching our children to be really aware of the world and how we can thrive in it through education systems that emphasise on making us world class citizens.

Instead, I see defeated university leavers, who do not have the confidence to handle a job based on what they are qualified on paper to do – the syllabus does not correlate with what the industry needs and critical thinking abilities are not encouraged.

We are churning out generations of yes men, or worse those who think that their entire life has to be micromanaged by parents, schools, universities, government and anyone else but them. How do you ‘think out of the box’ when you live in a box your whole life?

We see the right words and slogans about all this – but there seems to be a lack of political will to ensure it really trickles down to the heartland and on the ground. Actions are as actions does, to borrow a phrase from Forest Gump.

We cannot destroy our peace, harmony and culture for the sake of temporary gains of a few people. The future of this nation lies in this sincerity – from leaders who do care.

The question I want us to ask ourselves is what Independence are we really celebrating when we swirl our flags and march on the streets in colourful parades? Are we celebrating our strength in unity as a nation – that we work as one people? Or are we merely diverse costumes and dances and songs?

Uncomfortable thoughts, I know. But if we are going to build a nation to be the best ever, you cannot do it from your comfort zone.

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