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This Malaysia Day, fair-minded Malaysians must resolve to stand up for their ideals

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If we don’t, the bigots and chauvinists will sow the seeds of disunity, says Benedict Lopez.

Malaysia Day on 16 September is a memorable day for Peninsular and East Malaysians as it was on this day that Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore came together in 1963 to form Malaysia.

Unfortunately, Singapore broke away from Malaysia and became an independent nation on 9 August 1965.

The birth of the new nation of Malaysia in 1963 was immediately met with a confrontation by our neighbour, Indonesia. Indonesian soldiers began incursions on the coastal areas of Johor and Singapore and later parachuted para-commandos into Peninsular Malaysia to carry out conduct subversion and sabotage. It was a period of uncertainty and apprehension.

We nevertheless overcame this difficult chapter in the history of our country and moved forward, progressed and prospered.

If we are grateful people, we much acknowledge our friends from some of the Commonwealth countries who lent us a helping hand during the confrontation. They sent their troops to ensure the security of our nation. India, Britain, Australia and New Zealand were our true friends during a time of need. And a friend in need is definitely a friend indeed!

Malaysians of all races and walks of life have made this country what it is today: through sheer hard work, discipline and love for this country.

Today, instead of focussing our attention, energy and resources on challenges facing the country, we have allowed a minority group, particularly the failures in society, to find solace by whipping up ethnic and religious bigotry. They have spewed all kinds of rabid dogma aimed at creating a chasm among the various ethnic groups in the country.

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Regrettably, seldom is action taken against them, and they are allowed to propagate their chauvinism. The ethno-religious-baiting by some past and present politicians provides fodder for these zealots.

Even more abysmal is the fact that the majority – apart from G25 and Patriot – who are supposed to be decent Malaysians, are silent and allow these nefarious characters to have their way. A good number of our people tend to adopt the attitude of if it does not affect them personally, why bother!

Many ordinary people who participate in demonstrations don’t have an inkling of the issues before them and blindly follow the troublemakers.

Not too long ago, an Indonesian worker who was doing some work in my house told me that he would be returning slightly late after lunch. Reason: he wanted to collect RM50 for just signing up and attending a demonstration for a short while.

Frequently, many Malaysians are often hoodwinked by the minority to be vocal on trivial issues. But they are conspicuously silent on the critical issues facing the country: the cost of living, graduate unemployment, the declining standard of English, poor performances in sports, eroding food security, global warming, rising sea levels and climate change.

Oblivious to many is that many Malaysians are finding it more difficult to cope with the soaring cost of living. Those in their comfort zones are unconscious about the hardships faced by a good section of Malaysians, particularly those in the bottom 40% of society.

During my evening walks, I bump into many unemployed graduates who are trying to earn a living by soliciting donations purportedly for UN agencies and international NGOs. When I stop to chat with them and ask them why they are not more gainfully employed, some respond by saying they have been trying for two years!

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We cannot be in a denial syndrome over the drop in the standard of written and spoken English. I know many of our young bright sparks who are knowledgeable, but simply cannot articulate their thoughts due to their poor command of the language. What concrete measure are being undertaken to arrest this decline in the command of English?

Where are the voices of fair-minded and concerned Malaysians and our politicians on these important issues? Politicians, in particular, seem to be muted over these pressing issues affecting the people. I suppose these issues don’t gain much political mileage for the politicians.

Certain educators, who are supposed to mould the character of our children, instead humiliate them, leaving them with psychological scars. When they should be bridging the divide, they churn out the doctrine of hate and spite on our children.

We take pride in being “Malaysia, Truly Asia” by portraying ourselves as a beacon of multiculturism and multi-racialism, but in reality, we are moving in the opposite direction and becoming an increasingly polarised nation. The only time when we cross the ethnic divide is when it comes to food and fruit!

I seldom see fellow Malaysians from Sabah and Sarawak being part of the mainstream of society. I hardly see them represented in government departments.

What has happened to the Malaysia we are so proud of? Where have we gone wrong? Where is the acceptance of diversity, reason and understanding as espoused by illustrious Malaysians like Tunku Abdul Rahman?

Seldom do we realise it, but Malaysia is a blessed country. We are spared from calamities and catastrophies like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and typhoons. Our neighbours are not as fortunate as we are. The only major perennial problems we face are the flash floods and the yearly recurrence of the smog.

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We have an abundance of natural resources and talented human resources. Any other nation like us should have now been in the league of developed nations, but sadly we are not.

Our best and the brightest are currently an asset to other countries instead of their own country. Some of our excellent doctors and specialists are now working in countries like Britain. Why is this happening to our country?

Some reflection has to be done if, after 56 years since the formation of Malaysia, we still have bigots and chauvinists advocating the creed of revulsion against their fellow citizens who have contributed enormously to the economic development and prosperity of our country.

The time is ripe for sensible Malaysians to stand up and be counted for their convictions, ethics and ideals. They should do it without fear and favour; they should have no hesitation in calling a spade a spade. In this respect, we should support Malaysians like Siti Kasim and her new NGO, Maju.

If we don’t, the minority will bulldoze their way and continue to steal the limelight and cast a negative perception of Malaysia in the eyes of the international community.

Happy Malaysia Day to everyone in Malaysia.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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14 Sep 2019 11.41am

Perfect statement Ben. I 100% support and stand for your statement. Enough is enough. 60 years of Rubbish politics then came PH saying Malaysia for all Malaysians. Today the nation clearly knows PH is re-branded as Pakatan Zero Harapan……..
How is that the NEP tailored for rural Malays to develop for the last 45 years failed, failed, failed…..Politicians are just using this to feed and enjoy their chair while the real poor Malays are still suffering for a decent life.
Look at the Malay in Singapore. They are 100 times better developed, educated, cash rich compared to their relatives / friends in Malaysia.
So..who would BN or PH blame??? Lee Kwan Yew?? ..

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