MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Thursday, March 31, 2022

What Malaysia needs is purpose


Our first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, wanted Malaya to be one of the world’s happiest countries.

In fact, it is recorded that around 1960, Tunku said, “With our unity and cooperation, faith and tolerance for one another, with hard work and glad hearts, we can make our young nation one of the happiest in the world. This is my belief, this is what I live for, to ensure peace, happiness and prosperity for our Malaya which we all love so well.”

This was a wonderful dream.

Said in simpler times, what Tunku articulated feels rudimentary and simplistic in its construct. But in today’s fractious and polarised Malaysia, what he suggested sounds like it comes from a charismatic visionary who was way ahead of his time.

Between 1957 and 1963, Tunku and his allies succeeded in winning the hearts and minds of the people with forthrightness, sincerity, inclusiveness, hope, happiness, and the promise of a better and brighter future.

Much later, another prime minister mooted the idea of Vision 2020 for the nation, and his office released the purpose definition for this new national agenda. The first paragraph of this document reads:

“By the year 2020, Malaysia can be a united nation, with a confident Malaysian society, infused by strong moral and ethical values, living in a society that is democratic, liberal and tolerant, caring, economically just and equitable, progressive and prosperous, and in full possession of an economy that is competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient.”

Again, a dream very much in keeping with what our first prime minister had worked for, albeit with more emphasis on economic equity, robustness as well as social democratic liberalism.

I can just imagine how formidable a nation Malaysia would be today, if these seminal ideas were kept at the core of every government policy, every action the authorities took, every policy blueprint for education, social welfare, infrastructure, and development.

If unity and cooperation, the two essential philosophies that Tunku Abdul Rahman envisioned, remained at the centre of everything we did as a nation, Malaysia would rightly take its place at the forefront of the developing world.

Coupling this with Vision 2020’s core ideas, our nation would be unstoppable.

But so much for hindsight. If only we had the courage and leadership to have stuck to our foundational principles, right?

Let’s take the central theme of our founding fathers – unity and cooperation.

Without belabouring the point and writing a tedious narrative, I suspect most of us will readily agree that aside from the stage-managed advertisements by Tourism Malaysia that show a wonderfully colourful and united people, the various races in our nation are literally held together by the thinnest layer of cement.

Underlying currents of trust deficiency do exist, even if in polite circles, we don’t care to mention them.

For the claims of wanting to be a “democratic, liberal and tolerant” country, as articulated in the Vision 2020 document, this just seems like a pipe-dream with all the things you read about happening in Malaysia.

So, what went wrong?

I guess a lot has been said and written about how devious politicians, greedy business folks, radical fundamentalists, racial bigots, and narrow-minded religious people have hijacked ‘Project Malaysia’. So, I won’t add to that general lament.

The task at hand now is to put the country back on track. And, for this, I believe we should get back to our purpose. The purpose for Malaysia, first mooted by our founding fathers.

Like what Tunku Abdul Rahman said, if we want to ensure peace, happiness and prosperity for our Malaya(sia), which we all love, we must go back to believing in unity and cooperation.

This means always having harmony, front and centre, in every action that impacts the national fabric of Malaysian society.

Having this principle in mind, it is important that the citizenry prompt our leaders, and when necessary, we need our leaders to instruct us to work in a collaborative fashion that supports this aspiration.

The nation needs to be regularly reminded that tolerance for each other is not a one-way street. The dominant race cannot strong-arm others to be tolerant, but at the same time themselves, show little open-mindedness.

Justice and inclusiveness must not only be sloganised, but be actively pursued.

Action in the national interest, must always be taken swiftly. If racial and religious bigotry is being stoked and fanned, regardless of the perpetrator’s race, religion or creed, appropriate and decisive measures, in accordance with the rule of law, must be taken.

If we want unity and cooperation to prevail, the practice of selective prosecution must end.

When Tunku Abdul Rahman, in August 1962 returned from the Malaysia Talks in London, he declared…”I am happy because the people are happy. Is there anything more that I can wish for?”

Today, for Malaysia to fulfil Tunku’s dream, we must go back to our purpose and rebuild. - FMT

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.

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