Last week, when the former Malaysian badminton champion, Lee Chong Wei, posted his Merdeka message on Facebook, some of us wondered if he was trying to protect his political masters. Perhaps, at worst, he was out of touch with reality.
Like it or not, the three-time Olympic medallist is seen as part of the establishment. Telling us to stop whining does not help. It makes him an apologist for the ruling politicians.
In the past, people could not help noticing that Lee’s favourite fan, besides his mother, was the former self-styled First Lady of Malaysia, Rosmah Mansor. She was always in the audience, to cheer him on during important matches, and during the London Olympics of 2012, she flew out specially to support him during the badminton finals. She didn’t even stay to cheer our diver, Pandelela Rinong winning an Olympic bronze medal. Rosmah was Lee’s guest of honour at his wedding but Lee’s father was not even invited.
In his Merdeka 2021 message, Lee urged Malaysians to continue to support the country, despite the unsettling times, and reminded Malaysians of the uniting forces of sports and food.
He said, “Don’t just know how to criticise. Try your best to repair what is broken, and develop what is already there in our country.
“There is still hope for this country we all love.
“It’s our Malaysia, our home after all”.
First. To speak out, or criticise, as Lee calls it is one of the few things left for the rakyat to do, to try and put right, the broken system.
As youngsters, our parents, and probably his too, were told not to complain, but to knuckle down and study and work, and not get involved in politics or in anything that may have been perceived as going against the authorities. Look at the mess created in Malaysia today, because of that generation’s silence.
Corrupt and power hungry politicians, ministers, and civil servants, felt emboldened because few people dared to criticise them. Those who did, were corralled under ISA or Operation Lallang, and jailed for daring to criticise the government.
Is Lee aware that many Malaysians are sick of what they have seen done to their country? Fortunately, the youth of today, are not going to simply lie back and accept what they see as the destruction of the nation and their civil liberties.
They will criticise and they are vocal on social media. As we are aware, anyone who goes out to protest, will be deemed to have broken the strict Coronavirus social distancing rules and be caught and fined.
Lee must understand that concerned Malaysians are prepared to sacrifice small liberties.
Second. How does Lee suggest we “repair what is broken”?
The nation is cursed with institutionalised racism. In just about every government department, agency, institution, GLC, public university, civil service or housing allocation, there is a set quota of entries or allocations for non-Malays.
Meritocracy does not appear to count in Malaysia. The 4 Rs dictate our lives. The best non-Malay student may not be able to secure a scholarship or a place at a public university despite a string of As, his mastery of the Malay language and his ability to articulate his ideas and thoughts at the interview stage.
It may help if he has political connections, but how many of us have that privilege? So can Lee suggest how we overcome this challenge?
Is it any wonder that some of our best talent is snapped up by other countries, like Singapore, and given a full scholarship and employment once they graduate from top overseas universities.
Lee seems to overlook the fact that today, it is not just the non-Malays who are part of the brain drain, because increasing numbers of Malays have also left Malaysia. They do consider Malaysia their home, but some politicians have not been welcoming because the people belong to the wrong race or religion
Third. Lee said that we could “develop what is already there”. Can Lee suggest how the ordinary rakyat should tackle this?
Perhaps, Lee could approach the most influential people in BN, with whom he has most traction to do something about institutionalised racism, the NEP or the affirmative action policies, which are the curse of Malaysia.
For instance, has he spoken out against racism in sports? Is he aware of the allegation of racial quotas in school sports.
A school pupil could be the most talented athlete in his chosen sport, but if the racial quota for that particular team has been filled, what is the child or the parent of the child to do? They cannot complain to the headmaster who would only repeat that it is part of the Education policy. The school loses a good sportsman, society loses a talented player especially if he becomes a top athlete, and the child may bear a lifelong grudge at being rejected despite his skill.
Will Lee look into this matter? Most people are reluctant to speak about this openly because they fear that their child will be punished for being vocal.
The system is broken and although many Malaysians love their country, and are not afraid to criticise so that improvements can be made, but the privileged few, the élite and the celebrities, say very little to improve things for the rest of us.
Will Lee emerge from his coconut shell and start speaking for us?