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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Matter Of Faith

A Matter Of Faith

More than ever, we need to remind ourselves of the fundamentals. Our fundamentals.

I am a Malaysian. I want my country to be a country in which every citizen has his or her place and has the opportunity to live life in the fullness that each and every one of us deserves.

I want public education, public health, public transport and the public services to be world class and, to that end, I want to see every single sen in every single ringgit I pay in taxes to be used for what it is meant to be used for: creating a secure life for all of us. I want to have competent administrators with vision and I would like to be able to look at an official without having to wonder, even fleetingly, whether he or she is corrupt.

I do not want to wake up angry each morning at the state of Malaysia. Fed to the teeth on a diet of scandal for breakfast, arbitrariness for lunch and abuse of power for dinner, with a whole lot of political intrigue for snacks in between.

Those are my fundamentals. And I think they are also those of many other Malaysians. I would say all Malaysians but I do not think I can fairly include the politicians who lead us.

For them, fundamentals are things like politics, super corridors, mega- projects, race-politics, equity participation and, of course, incidental things like sodomy. These are heady obsessions that take up a lot of time and energy, as does having to tread treacherous political waters.

Which makes me wonder whether these politicians have the time to deal with the more mundane business of governance. Looking at the way things are, it would seem that they do not.

The Government seems to be in a perpetual holding pattern with no real decisions being made. It would seem doing as little as possible and preserving status quo is the best way to ensure political advancement. Ministers routinely fend off demands for results, improvements and reforms with the kind of political double-speak or compromise calculated to buy the time needed to make it someone else’s problem. The continuing decline in standards in schools and public services, the seemingly increasing corruption and crime, and the host of other very sad and painful realities that have become the norm despite the repeated and very loud pleas of civil society is proof enough of the phenomenon that we have come to know as ‘government’.

Everything, for all purposes and intents, is merely a means to a political end.

In fairness, the same could arguably be said, though to a lesser extent, of some of the politicians on the other side; flexing their new muscles, adjusting to the idea of influence and popularity and, of course, the thirst for even more power. It is significant that the opposition landscape has been so dominated by little other than September 16th this year.

All this inescapably points to one conclusion. The buck really does stop with us, the rakyat. The political process is skewed to a political end whose fundamentals are far removed from the realities of our lives. If no one is going to take charge as the situation requires, we have to. At the heart of the Bangsa Malaysia ideal is ownership; we own this country. It is the field we till, reaping what we sow

Which is why, as significant as the events of the weekend involving Anwar Ibrahim may be, we cannot allow them to distract us from the business of getting our lives back in order. There is much for us to do.

We should not be distracted from the fact that despite the promises of judicial reforms, nothing of lasting significance has been done. We are yet to see a bill for the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission or the reinstatement of the pre-1988 Article 121 that underscored judicial independence. It is not even evident whether cabinet supports the initiatives. For Zaid Ibrahim seeming to be a lone voice in the wilderness, one cannot help but think there are those who view these reforms as threatening.

And just as we have yet to see any developments on the recommendations of the Lingam Commission, there has been no further sign of traction on the proposed Anti-Corruption Commission initiative. Corruption is at the heart of the nation’s ills. The inability of the Government to implement an equitable and effective response strategy to manage the hardship caused by increased fuel prices is clear testament of the extent to which this nation has been undermined by corruption. Though an independent anti-corruption body is clearly of crucial importance to the revitalizing of this nation, we have heard precious little since the initial fanfare.

For these and other equally significant reasons, we must remain calm in the face of ongoing events, as destabilizing as they may be. We must keep our eye on the target; an inclusive, equitable and competitive Malaysia.

These are challenging times. Effecting and managing change was never going to be an easy process. Whether we see it through to its end is entirely in our hands. It is a matter that depends on our continued ability to believe in ourselves and in a Malaysia that belongs to all Malaysians.

It is a matter of faith.

(Malay Mail; 1st July 2008)



Anonymous said...

Totally agree with what you write.

The sad part is the people in power could not or would not like to see changes that could affect them personally.

Anonymous said...

Zaid Ibrahim does seem to be a lone voice, although he has the backing of Pak Lah, it's been said in no uncertain terms that he has to convince the other segments that make up the power that be. And why is this so? one could only guess what is it that threatens them if we have a more transparent, independent judiciary? because their protected interest would then be laid wide open? the people too have a role to play in this. the apathy, endless (destructive) criticism and cynicism is not bringing us anywhere. We must recognize a good initiative where there is one and focus our energy and attention on those matters, instead of the present telenovela politik.

lung said...

Aye Bro

Anonymous said...

My husband is a foreigner. He is from Iran but has lived half of his lifes (23 years)in USA. He's been here for the past 10 years.

Tonight, we had our dinner at Sunway Pyramid...the middle eastern tourists ~ most with their families, children and all are already here, starting their summer holiday. Everybody's (locals and foreigners) doing their window shopping, dinner, buying, etc. So peaceful. Like nobody cares what goes on in the media mess out there.

My husband's comment while puffing away his ciggy: "Malaysia is a good country. I hope the government up there doesn't mess up this country".

Hearing him said this put a knot in my throat. Because uptill now, he still hasn't obtained his PR despite contributing positively to the economy, however small it is. And he seldom complains about it. He has faith.

Reading your article now shed afew tears for me. An honest truth.

Enough said.

Anonymous said...

It is the wish of all Malaysians out here. Young and old.

Thanks Malik for being a voice of reason when almost everything else i read around me sounds apocalyptic.

Your blog is truly a joy to read. Keep it up.

Mr. Smith said...

The fact is my friend, this Frankenstein we call UMNO was created , sustained and prodded on by the people.
I for one saw the rot coming more than a decade ago culminating in Operation Lalang, the sacking of Salleh Abas, Anwar and the emasculation of the media and megalomaniac extravagance of the Executive. I saw my hard earned money which I paid in taxes being siphoned off and plundered greedy UMNO politicians with impunity.
All the instruments of government were at the beck and call of one man, the PM.
Yet the people continued to vote them in, again and again all because they had food on the table and money in the bank.
Human rights, abuse of power and corruption were non-issues.
Now whom do we blame?
The ONLY choice - the Hobson's choice- we have got today is a Pakatan Government. Are we not then justified in focusing on Sept 16?
Can you blame us for harbouring this hope?
To allow UMNO to continue ruling the country is a sure recipe for our eventual destruction.
And you will have to keep on dreaming for another one or two decades for the realization of your "matter of faith."

Unknown said...

Well said malik....well said

Navi said...

The flip flop will continue. Paklah has made strong statements of reforms in the past. We are yet to see the implementation of those statements. As long as UMNO holds the fort do not expect much in way of reforms. The number of UMNO MPs who would like to see the changes made to the current scenario are too few, most of them would keep the status quo which had made them super rich and provided them unlimited power.

Let us look at our basic needs in health and education. Our literacy rate is way back. Students in secondary schools who can't read and write, the high dropouts have led to rampant drug abuse and mat rempits. Sri Lanka by comparison is way ahead with their free education from kindergarten level to universities. The government also provides frr medical service to all citizens. Yet they are not oil producers, nor do they have the resources we have. Their budget eaten up by the ongoing civil war, have restricted them in developing better education and health facilities.
We have first world facilities but provide third world services with third world mentalities.
The reforms demanded by the people of Malaysia are real and the ruling elite should look seriously into the grieviences expressed on March 8.
The country and its people should get priority over party and individuals.

Anonymous said...

Hello malik,

I totally agree with your statements. I have nothing to said as your comment reveal everything indeed. We must face every consequnces that would happen even though someday it might be so "destabilizing". Every citizens should bear in their mind that the MALAYSIAN IS BELONG TO MALAYSIAN.

Nice postings. Hope to view more of this remarkable postings from you.

Anonymous said...

Where can Faith be found?
I heard the Sound
But I cannot found the Ground!

Ground to stand to support even by Rights and Laws I am taller!
Taller in regards to HDA, STA, LPA, TCPA, Evidence ACT, Defamation Act, and High Court Rules!
But ALL cannot stand because of ABUSES!
All because they can be BENT, the Laws and Rules!
When a Judge is talking about the Power and not the Justice!


Steven Foong said...


Aye, aye. Very inspiring, indeed.

You asks us to take our country back. What else have we not done? We come out in numbers to demonstrate. We took batons and tear gases and water cannons. We pled, signed petitions, marched. We volunteered for the campaigns and voted for change. What else can the average Malaysian do?

We have given mandate to our leaders. My only hope is a successful September 16th takeover - to free our nation from corruption and the vested interests that underpin the continued resistance towards reform.