Battle for the soul of Malaysia – to bridge Malaysia’s divides to build a common future for all Malaysians or for each ethnicity to return to its respective enclave in false belief that it is facing an existential threat and in denial of a Malaysian dream
In the last two days, my thoughts have often returned to the opening paragraph of Charles Dickens’s “”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 …, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”
Best of Times, Worst of Times; Light and Darkness; Hope and Despair – these were the paradoxes that agonised Malaysians on our 62nd Merdeka Day.
Early this week, I encapsulated this paradox and posed the question whether I should just forget about New Malaysia and call its quits.
I received tons of responses, a large number of them bots wishing my immediate disappearance from the political scene, but a fair amount reflecting the paradoxes of the opening paragraph of “A Tale of Two Cities”.
A political commenter was so full of despair about the future of Malaysia that he penned an article entitled “A meaningless Merdeka”, expressing this attack of darkness that “After 21 years of writing ideas, criticisms and advice for Malaysians, Malays and those in power in academic, religious and political institutions, I have no more to give”.
This paradox caused another commentator to write about “Let’s have Merdeka from ‘race and religion’”.
But shining through these paradoxes is the common thread of love and patriotism for Malaysia, wanting the country to be good and great, to be a top world-class nation of unity, freedom, justice, excellence and integrity and not to become a failed and rogue state and least of all, a klepto-theocracy!
This is best captured by another 62nd Merdeka Day Opinion piece on “A Merdeka Prayer – in pursuit of a better quality of life in beloved Malaysia Baru”.
Do we have reason to hope and dream that we can reset nation-building policies and undo the wrongs, injustices and abuses of power in the past six decades?
Yes, but we must have the stamina, perseverance and commitment to work for a New Malaysia which will be a top world-class nation of unity, freedom, justice, excellence and integrity, and be an example of the success of “Alliance of Civilisations” instead of a failure because of a “Clash of Civilisations” – a national mission which will take more than an general election cycle to accomplish.
Malaysians must develop a social media literacy, as in a matter of two months, through a massive and orchestrated campaign of fake news and hate speech, Malaysians have been entrapped in a vicious position where every community lives in fear, doubt, suspicion and even hatred of other communities and religions, believing that its rights, ethnicity, religion and culture are facing an existential threat.
How could this be possible. The Malays are made to believe that they had lost political power and their rights, ethnicity, religion and culture are facing an existential threat.
But it is not only the Malays who fear that they are facing an existential threat as the Chinese Malaysians and Indian Malaysians also fear that their rights, ethnicity and culture also face an existential threat.
How can this be – for if every community, ethnicity and culture is facing an existential threat, who is creating all these threats to all the communities, ethnicities and cultures in the country?
But every cloud has a silver lining.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad called on those responsible to call for a boycott of non-bumiputera and non-Muslim products in the past two months to cease their campaign, as it is not going to work but will only create anger.
The failure of the boycott campaign is one proof that the social media does not represent the larger Malaysian whole.
Let us celebrate the 62nd Merdeka Day today and the 56th Malaysia Day on Sept. 16 conscious that we are in the thick of the battle for the soul of Malaysia – to bridge Malaysia’s divides to build a common future for all Malaysians or for each ethnicity to return to its respective enclave in the false belief that it is facing an existential threat and in denial of a Malaysian dream.