With Joe Biden taking office as the 46th US President, Americans now have a hill to climb.
Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem The Hill We Climb reminded me that we Malaysians too once had a hill to climb: Peak-905, as I call it.
Peak-905 was no ordinary hill. Many Malaysians had waited for over 60 years to scale it. Malaysians – irrespective of race, religion, generation, gender and other polarising factors – united on 9 May 2018 to end Umno’s six-decade domination under first the Alliance and then Barisan Nasional.
The BN era finally ended with the ousting of a kleptocratic leader. That moment of victory marked the first milestone of Peak-905.
Sadly, in the 22 months that followed, Peak-905 was eroded, polluted and trampled down – first by clandestine means, followed by open jostling and power grabs by ambitious politicians who did not respect the people’s mandate.
To this day, this remains our nightmare – shameless ‘traitors’ pursuing their own agenda and the politics of self-interest, ever bent on manoeuvring and ‘buying’ support with heaps of dirty political gimmicks and money, including coveted incentives and positions.
We cannot depend on a bunch of corrupt elite politicians and corporations seeking big profits that seem to dominate the discourse of the state and federal legislatures.
Eventually, state and federal elections will be held, whether we like it or not, whether we vote or boycott the polls. Yet, we can already foresee the result if we do nothing.
Inspired by Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech, I too have a dream for our multicultural, multiracial nation. Concerned Malaysians need to strengthen our own ability and power to act in the struggle for a better Malaysia.
We must somehow find the motivation and purpose to rejuvenate our spirit and energy, to stand strong and united to chart the milestones on the path towards genuine change for all Malaysians.
But dare we dream of building another hill with a peak?
Nay, say I, for many wannabes remain obsessed with reaching the top and claiming the prize – titles, positions and yes, definitely money – but a pinnacle can only hold a few people!
Looking at a picture I once took in South Africa, I definitely prefer the Table Mountain as a model summit where everybody can stand – or sit in a wheelchair or pram – instead of those hilltops with only space for a few individuals to stand.
Carol Yong is an activist and independent writer