September 2nd, 2014
AS a proud moderate Malaysian I celebrated our 57th Merdeka with gratitude and loyalty.
I recalled prayerfully how I joined our beloved Tunku Abdul Rahman, as a University of Malaya student, at the Merdeka Stadium to shout proudly Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!
Yesterday, I felt good to hear our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak addressing us as beloved Malaysians in his “live” message to the nation.
However, I must confess that I did not feel the same euphoria on this Merdeka Day as I usually do.
I checked with many friends and they shared similar sentiments.
I thought the two MAS tragedies had weighed us down. But no, it was the deep feeling of inner frustration and disappointment that Malaysia could have achieved much more in all fields.
Indeed, we could have felt euphoric or just happier, if we did not have to tolerate so much racial and religious extremism, hate and supremism!
Although as our PM stated we have come a long way since Merdeka, we ask why we have not achieved much more for our people?
For instance, why is there so much lack of success in achieving the Government’s noble goal of “inclusiveness”?
We should not make the blunder of comparing ourselves to the failed economies but to the highly progressive former developing countries.
The lower 40% of our population are struggling to make ends meet in a resource blessed economy.
There is so much wastage in inefficiency and corruption that denies more benefits to the poor rakyat.
Yet, some leaders often talk glibly of everyone being happy and “feeling good”.
How can our people enjoy declining education standards, high crime rate, rising prices and relatively low incomes?
We even have to endure water shortages in a rain blessed country!
There is therefore this growing perception of weakening Government institutions that must be rapidly addressed to raise public confidence in promoting good governance.
The Merdeka celebrations at Dataran Merdeka were impressive. But sadly, it could have been more inclusive?
There was hardly any attempt to show us and the world at large that we are, after all, a proud and relatively successful and peaceful multi-racial and multi-religious developing nation.
So please tell us how are we to build national unity, if we become more parochial and exclusive in our social, economic, racial and religious policies and practices?
On our 57th Merdeka anniversary, we have to, as our PM has said “determine the next course for our beloved Malaysia”.
We all must resolve to strengthen our fading Merdeka spirit!
Our Government must decide to strongly lead the way forward from now.
Long live Malaysia! Merdeka, Hidup Malaysia
TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM
Chairman, ASLI Center of Public Policy Studies
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