As we reflect on the past year, let’s resolve to be strong and wake up to reality in 2014.
ALTHOUGH this is my first article for 2014, I’m actually writing this still in 2013. So let’s call this a transitional article with a review of the past year and maybe some hopes for the coming one.
Personally, 2013 was not a bad year for me. I made two resolutions at the beginning of it, which I have mostly kept.
But I can’t say the same for our beloved country.
The year 2013 was one where we became more fractious, more disunited, more angry. Some people, to my mind, have completely lost the plot.
It was a year where a regular occurrence, the general election, became the excuse for so much rancour on all sides, and afterwards, very little self-reflection.
We now have a government in power which is disliked but yet unable to understand why that is so. And it is responding by thinking that all that the people want is more religion and to be bought.
Even then, it is failing miserably. Throwing monetary goodies at people, as any fool should know, is a short-term measure. People want to feel good all the time, not just for a day or two.
There is a simple premise behind election promises and pledges: they need to be kept.
Either that or rely on people’s short-term memory. Which isn’t reliable by any measure.
It’s astounding to me that simple logic doesn’t apply to the way our politicians think.
If you want people to like you, just be nice to them. And being nice doesn’t include finding bogeymen under every rock and being nasty to them.
We don’t want our lives enhanced through the misery of others; we’d like everyone to be happy, thank you.
It’s plain to any intelligent Malaysian (and dear Government, there are more of us than you think) that all this going after small groups of defenceless people are just a distraction.
If 1,500 people are a danger to us all just because they have slightly different beliefs, then we are bestowing on them more power than they have.
Similarly with all the other dangers and insults we keep dreaming up. All it shows is that we are a weak people and “they” are incredibly powerful.
We are now being led by people who are ignorant, unschooled and yet proud to be so.
We have celebrated the Gregorian new year for ages, so how did it suddenly become a Jewish celebration?
We have wished our fellow Malaysians the best during all our festivities, so how did it suddenly become a threat to our faith? Or is our faith so fragile that it can hardly withstand anything?
The other day, I had to worry about what paper I wrapped a gift in, in case the recipient got offended. This is how ludicrous it has become.
But what is truly ludicrous is the silence from the top.
What sort of leadership do we have which only mouths platitudes about moderation and unity, yet has absolutely nothing to say about the type of extreme pronouncements made not only by so-called NGOs, but also by some parts of government? Are they oblivious or scared? And if they are scared, why?
Once upon a time, we used to say “Malaysia Boleh”, that Malaysians were capable of achieving anything.
Today, we might as well say “Malaysia Tak Boleh” because every day there are more and more things that we are told we cannot do.
We are told we cannot be nice to each other because it might endanger the faith of some of us.
We are told that we cannot talk frankly because some people, obviously with weaker constitutions than the rest of us, might get offended.
We cannot do anything without treading on eggshells because some people have paper-thin skins.
So basically, the Malaysians we are most supposed to be proud of are those with weak faith who need constant government help and have such an inferiority complex that anything and everything that anyone else does better is offensive to them.
These are the people who think that the fastest way to heaven is to oppress other people. Lovely!
And our leader would rather spend time defending family foibles than to speak up for the most vulnerable and defenceless in society. How embarrassing is that?
So my wish for 2014 is that more Malaysians will wake up and realise the danger our country is in.
That to survive in the world today is by being strong. And strength comes from being educated and in tune with the realities of the world, not living in some fantasyland filled with bigots.