As a solution to the twin crises of the coronavirus pandemic and economic contraction, there have been repeated mantras in the media about the importance of Malaysian workers to go on skilling, reskilling and upskilling themselves to face the new normal.
While this mantra is crucial for workers, it is vital to come up with a similar mantra for politicians in the country who need to learn, unlearned and relearn the reality of history, politics, economics, and the social and universal aspects of the country, so that a proper foundation for unity can be set for the future generations.
With the burdens that Malaysians are already shouldering – loss of jobs and incomes – we had unnecessary distractions such as the Kedah government’s polarising decision to cancel Thaipusam as a public holiday and the politicians’ immediate ethnically inspired response.
There is also a recommendation for stiffer penalties for the LGBT community, with the aim of changing their lifestyle.
A former UiTM lecturer was rumoured to have been pressured to resign. His so-called offence: he had conducted a study tour for his political science students at the DAP headquarters.
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What is obvious from the above distractions is the politicians’ failure to come up with a consensus on what constitutes equality as enshrined in the constitution and how to deal with issues of complex reality that come from various strands of thought, lifestyles and actions. While Malaysia could be relatively stable politically compared to other countries, that does not mean that it is creating the necessary foundation of peace and stability for future generations.
The nation today is in dire need of politicians who can build bridges among all communities in trying times rather than taking self-righteous positions on issues with a narrow ideological inclination that does not serve the common good.
The common good requires an attitude of humility that we do not know everything, and we need to explore new areas of relations with those who have different notions on any issue. To understand issues related to morality, ethnic relations or academic freedom, it is not wise to take the moral high ground of being judgemental; we need to accompany and listen to people we disagree with.
As Pope Francis once said: “Reality is far more crucial than ideas.” If politicians do not understand the complex nature of reality, there will not be effective solutions. There are complex social realities that need to be explored and digested.
Embracing the wholeness of reality and coming up with informed solutions requires a break from the narrow and limiting ideology of race and religion. In fact, embracing wholeness and goodness in others is what religion and spirituality is all about, in essence.
So it is vital for politicians of all stripes in Malaysia to unlearn and liberate themselves from their current ideological assumptions and explore their knowledge further by befriending those who are on the opposite side of the political and social divide.
Unlearning from narrow ideological landscapes and embracing the wholeness of all human beings will help set the nation towards peace and tranquility and be an example for future generations. Resetting the nation in the real sense means breaking the barriers of partisan ideology. – The Malaysian Insight