A to-do-list for a better year in 2016

This year was an unhappy year for the nation and therefore for most of us. Too many issues went sour and remain heavy burdens that we will carry forward into 2016.
We may therefore say farewell to 2015, with considerable relief that we survived the stormy weather. We all now hope and pray that 2016 will be a calm, bright and much better year.

We rightly expect to feel less depressed, more relaxed, positive, confident and to enjoy ourselves.

Let’s look forward to reading hopeful and happy news every morning, rather than get frustrated and disheartened by the poor pronouncements and practices of leaders and extremists.

However we cannot wish away the bad and expect favourable developments to come our way. We all have to work hard to ensure that we are progressive, in order to reap the fruits of progress.

For our future national and individual successes, we need to fulfil some of the following:

On the economic front, we need to:

1. Reduce Inflation by recognising that it is brought about by external and internal factors.

Rising interest rates in the US and elsewhere will have an impact on our import prices. The loss in our Ringgit exchange rate by about 20 per cent in recent times has caused the cost of imported goods and services to rise.

Additionally, concerns regarding outstanding issues like 1Malaysia Development Berhad and the RM2.6 billion donation to Prime Minister Najib Razak continue to undermine confidence and deepen the trust deficit in our governance at home and abroad.

The new European Parliament’s resolution against Malaysia’s record on human rights and governance has weakened international and domestic confidence in the ringgit and in our ability to reduce inflation and to strengthen our national economic management capability.

These critical concerns must be settled in order to improve confidence in the nation’s future growth and development. We cannot afford to play these issues down and hope the problems will blow over.

2. Improve employment and employment opportunities

At present there are thousands of unemployed graduates, for whom jobs have to be found. Hence it is necessary to introduce more liberal economic policies and phase out protective policies and practices that inhibit both domestic and foreign investment. More investment means more jobs.

3. Strengthen good governance by clamping down on budget wastage’s and widespread corruption.

In politics, we should resolve to:

1. Condemn and fight extremists and extremism more effectively.

2. Monitor political parties and politicians that make racial and religious statements that are divisive, sensitive and hurtful. We must persuade the authorities against practising “selective justice”. The enforcement of the Rule of Law must be undertaken, without fear or favour.

3. Record derogatory statements and policies and practices that undermine our human rights and resolve to vote against politicians and political parties that erode national unity.

For social stability, we should resolve to:

1. Reject and take punitive action against those who preach and practice hate as well as religious and racial bigotry while secular and religious authorities should deal with purveyors of racial and religious discrimination and discord.

2. Actively promote national unity in all our policies and practices.
When the authorities adopt essentially mono racial policies and practices, the government will lose its trust and credibility. The public perception will then grow that the government will say one thing and do another. Then government statements would be seen as counterproductive and ironically, even anti-nationalistic. That is how the trust deficit widens.

On Protecting the Environment, we should resolve to:

1. Enforce forcefully environmental laws especially in regard to the rape of rainforests not only in Sarawak and Sabah but in many parts of Peninsular Malaysia. Reward the public for reporting illegal burning and dumping of waste into streams and rivers that also cause floods to occur.

2. Review and revise environmental laws to be more effective by tightening them and closing loopholes that individuals with vested interests exploit so easily.

Regarding safety and security, we should resolve to:

Further reduce house break-ins and street crimes as these cause great public insecurity. Better police backing should also be made available to resident associations keen on fighting crime.

Counter more strongly security threats and security breaches to our nation, especially in Sabah and along the Thai border. Incursions into our territory, kidnapping and beheadings cannot be allowed to continue.

However the newly introduced National Security Council Bill raises questions on the need for draconian measures and possible political abuses and therefore these worrisome public concerns must be addressed adequately.

Unless we seriously study these and other resolutions and determine to implement them faithfully, we will deepen the present trust deficit and lose our individual and national faith in the government.

Already many Malaysians wonder what lies in store for us with so much uncertainty in our economy, and with religious and racial tensions running at an all time high.

Let us all as true Malaysians be able to say confidently “Malaysia Boleh.” We shall overcome!

Article published in Free Malaysia Today and The Malaysian Insider.

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