I am reminded of Charles Dickens’ famous quote in his book A Tale of Two Cities:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Many Malaysians feel the “winter of despair” but we must persevere to work for the “spring of hope” – to renew resolve, hope and confidence to build a New Malaysia in the new year despite setbacks and vicissitudes.
It is a sign of the failure of the “spring of hope” in Malaysia that 19 months of Pakatan Harapan government – the first time that Malaysia gave the world hope that a peaceful and democratic transition of power can bring about reform and change at a time when democracy was in retreat in the world for over a decade, – seems to have been dissolved in such an ignominous fashion in very discordant and divisive dispute over the Jawi issue.
Since the historic decision of May 9 last year in the last general election, lies, fake news and hate speech by irresponsible and extremist elements resorting to the politics of race and religion aided by the Internet and the social media have conspired to create a false situation where every ethnic group and religion feels that it is facing an existential threat.
As a result, the Vision 2020 of a fully developed Malaysia which is 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” is not within reach on the horizon.
We seem to have lost confidence in ourselves as a plural society, where our diversity should be our asset, fearful and suspicious of each other and unable to leverage on the best values and qualities of the Islamic, Chinese, Indian and Western civilisations which meet in confluence in Malaysia to build a great Malaysian nation.
The Malays feel threatened, the Chinese feel threatened, the Indians feel threatened; Islam is under threat and the non-Islamic religions are under threat.
Every community is made to believe that its ethnicity, culture and religion is facing an existential threat.
But who is creating all these threats to all ethnic and religious groups in the country?
We must not mortgage our future and that of our children and children’s children to the extremists from whatever quarter.
We must promote the moderate Malaysian centre to build “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”.
Let us ensure the success of the Pakatan Harapan government to fulfil the Buku Harapan promises to reset nation-building policies for Malaysia to return to the founding principles of the Malaysian Constitution to ensure unity, justice, freedom, excellence and integrity in Malaysia, where there is separation of powers, the rule of law, public integrity and respect for human rights and fulfil the five pillar-promises towards the building of a New Malaysia:
Malaysia will not achieve Vision 2020 in 2020. But it will be a make-or-break year for the Pakatan Harapan Government in Putrajaya to reset nation-building policies for Malaysia!