When I visited Salem, India in August last year, I said that Malaysia seemed to be trapped in an extraordinary situation which, if not addressed, will only lead to greater division and disunity, stagnation and failure 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.
This extraordinary situation was one where every community was made to believe that its ethnicity, rights, culture and future were facing an existential threat – where the Malays felt threatened, the Chinese felt threatened, the Indians felt threatened, the Kadazans felt threatened and the Ibans felt threatened.
Not only the various races felt threatened, Islam felt threatened and the non-Islamic religions felt threatened.
But who was creating all these threats to all ethnic groups in the country?
I said Malaysians must develop a new self-confidence of “reaching for the stars”, a new “Malaysia Boleh” spirit, to exorcise the various contrived, imaginary or other fears and demons for Malaysia to excel itself in various fields of human endeavour so as to achieve a golden age for Malaysia.
Five months have passed, and the extraordinary situation where every ethnicity, culture and religion felt it was facing an existential threat from others have deepened and plural Malaysia has never been more polarised, threatening not only the very basis of democracy in Malaysia but the success of the Malaysian nation-building process.
Instead of hope and confidence in a New Malaysia as a result of the May 9, 2018 peaceful and democratic transition of power, there seems to be doom and gloom and even despair.
Recently, there was the shocking disclosure of the audio recording of a prime minister involved in the high crime of treason participating in an obstruction of justice, and although the audio recordings raised many pertinent public interests issues, the shocking aspect that a Prime Minister could be party to a treasonous crime was not given sufficient attention.
It raises the issue as to what is the use of an individual winning if the nation loses as a result.
We must not allow the further polarisation of Malaysia through lies, fake news and hate speech exploiting the racial and religious cleavages in the country, which can only end in Malaysia becoming a failed state.
We must ensure that our ethnic, linguistic, religious and cultural diversities are our national assets and not our national liabilities!