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Report card day for Malaysia

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This year, as in the past few years, your performance continues to slide, says a worried Adrian Lee, in a report card for the country.

Dear Malaysia,

Thank you for reading this. I do know that report card day can be a most nerve-wracking time as we are informed about our annual performance.

You will receive positive feedback, of which you must be proud. Your performance in other areas could be found wanting, but don’t despair; there’s always room for improvement.

Within a short span of time, you’ve greatly impressed by rapidly rising through the ranks and surpassing your peers to become the brightest and fastest rising star in the Class of South East Asia.

Natural resources helped you excel economically. You are also blessed with the best geographical position in class, allowing you to be given the best attention.

As a top achiever, you have become a household name for economic, political, cultural and sporting excellence. Many came to share your talents and resources and experience the cultures, hospitality, scenery and culinary delights you had to offer.

This was made possible through the unity and efforts among the various ethnic and religious communities.

But this year, as in the past few years, your performance continues to slide. I worry, as I want only nothing but the best for you. Your continuous descent from the top towards the bottom end of the class has not gone unnoticed. I only hope that you will listen to what I have to say.

You have been underachieving economically. Living costs and inflation are outrageously high; the foreign exchange rate appalling, and national debt and the fiscal deficit continues to rise.

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Excessive wastage and corruption continue without an end in sight. A declining economy is worrying as it jeopardises spending power and employment.

The income disparity between the rich and the poor has widened. Do remember that the wealth of the nation belongs to all and not just an elite few.

As for discipline wise, the crime rate is worrying: snatch thefts, robberies, rape, and murder. The rule of law is hardly given much respect. Laws are abused and aren’t applied justly and equally to protect people.

Crime no longer remains a matter of perception, as many have been hurt and fear for their safety. You need to start behaving properly or the rod will no longer be spared.

As for hygiene, excessive fossil fuel burning and rubbish pollute the environment while clogged drains and rivers cause annually recurring flash floods.

Excessive deforestation means more concrete jungles rising and rainforests vanishing. The recurring haze isn’t entirely your mistake, but the destruction of rainforests that act as air purifiers doesn’t help clear the smog.

Remember that you began as a safe haven for migrants. The foundations for the economy and the political and cultural landscape were built on the diversity of our ancestors, many of them migrants who called you home.

You, however, rejected the Rohingya immigrants seeking refuge. The mistreatment, abuse and exploitation of migrant workers also remain appalling.

While donation has become a buzzword in 2015, you haven’t been sympathetic towards the poor and marginalised.

A struggle to shut down soup kitchens and stop the homeless from sleeping on public benches took place while many slept soundly, safely and snugly in their warm beds. Everyone, regardless of status, race and religion, has the right to call Malaysia home.

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Property prices have soared ridiculously. Everyday folk are incapable of buying property while only an elite group of investors and speculators continues hoarding properties.

So much wanton attention was given to sarongs, skirts, shorts, sports and sex. Yes, we need to safeguard our young from discussions about sex, but ironically, sex is being discussed publicly.

Forcing women to wear what we decide as modest isn’t showing them proper respect. More worrying and in need of action are the deteriorating levels of sports, crimes against women, and workplace harassment.

Politically, you’re moving around in circles. There is too much discontent among many politicians who forgot that they serve the Rakyat.

Many politicians ignore the fact that the welfare, safety and happiness of the rakyat supersede theirs. They work for and serve the rakyat and not the other way round.

Street protests are now customary. Something must be wrong somewhere. Perhaps it will be good to comprehend the reasons behind such discontent and not be be obsessed with colours and the number of participants.

As you claim to be a democratic nation permitting freedom of speech and expression, what is also important is freedom after speech and expression. A freer and independent media would be testament to this.

Race and religious relations are so fragile that racism occurs without any fear of reprimand. Residents of a multicultural, multiracial and multireligious nation should never threaten one another or feel threatened by another race or creed.

Let’s not forget Sabah and Sarawak – you wouldn’t exist without them. They’re not “step-siblings” but are equally important stakeholders.

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In terms of education, the standard of English remains appalling while many graduates remain unemployed. Universities have become centres for political centeredness instead of centres for academic excellence. Academics and students aren’t given much, if any, space to think or explore ideas without fear of reprisal.

Road conditions remain dreadful, and thoroughfares are clogged with vehicles. Dangerous bends, potholes and poorly lit conditions, coupled with reckless drivers, make driving hazardous. The rise in road deaths needs to be dealt with seriously.

Ultimately, this report isn’t meant to dishearten you. I don’t fancy being asked to migrate or to return to my so-called “homeland” for being displeased – for, Malaysia, you are my negaraku.

I’m expressing my concerns about my beloved Malaysia, and this right doesn’t belong solely to lawmakers or those in power.

Hopefully you’ll improve on these weaknesses and have a more progressive year. We are only a few years away from the year 2020,  but you remain economically, culturally, politically and socially wanting.

Ultimately, I too, like Tunku on 16 September 1963, pray that “God may bless the nation of Malaysia with eternal peace and happiness”…and with unity and faith in ourselves and trust in God Almighty, we’ll make “Malaysia a land of prosperity and peace”.

Thank you.

Yours truly,

A concerned citizen

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