The challenge is to bring about a change in our mindsets, currently chained to ethnicity, to one that is inclusive and empowering to all, says K Haridas.
If we want to have different results, than it is only appropriate that we try different approaches. Someone once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.
Since the Barisan Nasional (BN) formula was established in the early 1970s, we have gone through the Rukunegara, Vision 2020, Islam Hadhari, 1Malaysia, and now we witness something new called TN50. Though I am not an astrologer, I am certain that under the same mould of ethnic politics we will never achieve different results.
No nation today can dismiss diversity as a limitation. They do so at their own peril. Whatever may be our identity, the challenge for all of us is to sense the humanity in the other. It is only when we respond to this sense of humanity that we can empower people to transcend narrow affiliations. Otherwise, it leads only to increasing polarisation as is so evident in our nation at all levels.
Only when we frame diversity as our strength can all of us feel empowered. We are Malaysians first and everything else second. This is what gives the nation a sense of identity above race and religion and pulls together our creativity towards achieving a common goal.
Are any of us less human because we are black, brown, yellow or white in our features? Are we less human because we are Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists or Communists? Despite all these, we share a common blood colour. This must be the humour God has injected into all who are able to look deeper.
We in Malaysia are a race-based society. This is a fact and the reality that surrounds us. We also have to accept the reality that and no amount of race- based parties in government or opposition is going to bring us together.
This political fragmentation is reflected in the present state of our society. It is insane for us to continue down the same road for another generation. When democracy is defined by numbers, one of the quickest ways to champion a cause is to agitate on issues relating to religion, race, colour or language.
Bankrupt politicians who do not have a vision for humanity play this game because it provides short-term gains in terms of power while sacrificing long- term nation-building sustainability. The vast majority of us become victims of such endeavours.
Such mediocre politicians then pontificate and preach virtues to the public at large. We lack quality leadership at the highest levels.
We need leadership skills that can provide a vision and a sense of humanity that sees the poor in our nation as poor and not defines them ethnically. In the globalised world of today, we need a vision that can aptly be framed as a view from the moon. Looking down at planet Earth, we represent one earth, one God, one world, and all of us are human beings.
We have to inspire such a mindset that transcends identity issues related to race, religion, tribal loyalties, colour or class. If we are right and just by the poor and needy in our societies, then we will also be just by everyone in our societies.
The challenge is to bring about a change in our mindsets to one that is inclusive and empowering to all. In this context, our framework – whether Vision 2020 or even the Rukunegara – will work wonders.
Honesty requires us to admit that we are chained to ethnicity. Religion in Malaysia – which should be above race – seems to be also imprisoned by this malaise.
This is the reality, but this reality does not need to imprison us. It is in liberating ourselves from this reality that we will find new dimensions and creativity in our regard and concern for the ‘other’.
If we continue down the road of denigrating one another, we give rise to feelings in our society that will burn all of us, if nothing is done to deal with the polarisation that is so evident and increasing in our society. Polarised education is an outcome that should alert us to be different in our approach.
We are set in a mould, and this mould determines the outcomes. However much perfume, decorations and slogans we add to this mould, the outcome will remain the same. That is why all the great and visionary ideas that have been spelt out in the last 45 years have all come to nought. The same fate awaits TN50.
After 48 years of the NEP, an apt question to ask is, why are Umno Malays still so insecure? They seem to always blame the DAP and Chinese Malaysians for their state despite all that has been awarded to them. This entitlement mentality will eventually lead to them being unable to even fend for themselves.
The present leadership’s motto “You help me, I help you” seems to be the refrain. This is the motto of the entitlement mentality, and all the component parties within the Barisan Nasional coalition seem happy about it. We have reached a state where all these component parties rely on Umno for their finances.
Yet they want to continue in this frame and believe that we can get different results. What we do not realise is that the ‘other’ is an important component in our growth and faith.
The ‘other’ in many ways defines us. If we consider the ‘other’ as less than us, then such a mindset develops arrogance and self-righteousness and is un-Islamic. As a religious leader once exclaimed, “You are as near to God as the one you most dislike.”
However, if we consider the other as equal to us in every sense and deserving of justice, then whatever our position, the other needs to be treated with respect and compassion. Only in this sense can we be true to our faith and teachings.
We must believe that as Malaysians we will help those in need within our nation irrespective of rules and regulations. We must have faith in one another but this faith will not be blossom under the present political climate and reality.
That is why it is important not to give the BN another chance. They have had so many chances and have sold us out and left us in a Malaysia that could have been so very much better in so many aspects.
The opposition may not be great, but the BN formula does not work and a different choice gives us the possibility of a fresh opportunity that we must grasp.
Otherwise, we will be led by the insane to insanity!