NB: The editors of a popular newspaper which will remain nameless, deemed this article unsuitable for publication. I have no idea why they think this article is so contentious.
Here are some things I learned, or reinforced, in 2021.
1. Don’t trust politicians
Politicians are good at ‘spin’. They love meaningless soundbites.
One former PM promoted the “1Malaysia” slogan, but in real life, he merely looked after his own interests and stole from the taxpayer.
Another unelected prime minister staged a “backdoor” political coup and boasted that he was “a Malay first, a Malaysian second”. He claimed he wanted to “Save Malaysia”. Like his peers, he did it to save his own interests and that of his family and cronies.
The PM who succeeded him created the “Keluarga Malaysia” (the Malaysian family) sound-bite. Despite the already bloated cabinet, he rewarded those who were loyal to him, by making them ministers or senators. The rakyat, or “Keluarga Malaysia” was kicked out of the family home.
2. Don’t trust the cleric who is a wannabe politician, or the politician who is a wannabe cleric)
The rakyat feels contempt for the cleric who becomes a politician, or the politician who is a wannabe cleric and who likes to ram religion down the rakyat’s throat.
When men of the cloth are placed in positions of power, they easily succumb to temptation. So, instead of doing work for the interests of the nation, the cleric cum politician, finds that he must hang on to his position and not lose his high wages, expensive perks, and generous allowances. For instance, how many times have you heard religious leaders condemn corruption? Or injustice? Or deaths in custody? Or unexplained disappearance of pastors?
3. Don’t depend on social media for your news
Many Malaysians are addicted to social media. They do not trust mainstream media which they claim only promotes government sanctioned news.
They don’t like some television channels which lull many housewives into a hypnotised state with the endless array of soaps and dramas.
Many Malaysians allege that they live in a police state where dissent is not tolerated so their only recourse is to get their news from social media.
Unfortunately, many paid cybertroopers resort to social media to create further tension and divisions in society. So, if you have access to social media, just check and verify the news before sharing it with others. If you’re unsure, just delete the post.
4. Don’t try to make people like you with pomp and pageantry
There are many politicians who think they can con ordinary citizens into liking them by holding wasteful, expensive, unnecessary events.
Recently, some ministers held official ceremonies at 5 star hotels to kick off the flood relief effort for the recent flood victims in Selangor. The politicians organised specially staged photo shoots showing them cleaning buildings or shovelling earth. Do they think Malaysians are stupid?
Flood victims were stranded on rooftops or the upper floors of their homes for at least two days, with no water, food or rescue in sight. These ministers are too daft to get their priorities rights. Personnel and resources were diverted into holding the gala event, instead of using the funds to rescue the victims.
5. Call the politicians out when they make stupid mistakes
Clueless politicians focus on trivial issues, like the dress code of the national airline. These politicians could have focussed on the unwanted political interference in the running of MAS, which has brought this once successful and proud airline to its knees.
The current PM keeps rewarding loyalty by creating more ministers and senators. What do these people do? The taxpayer pays their wages, but have not seen anything in return.
6. Politicians who are clueless should be replaced
One politician who has probably never held a test tube or looked down a microscope, heads one of the most important portfolios – the environment.
When he said that Malaysia was not affected by climate change, the PM should have replaced him.
How many times must the Malaysian public be let down by gormless politicians. A few years ago, the Mentri Besar of Terengganu, took an entourage comprising of members of his family and hangers-on, for a jolly to the Antarctica, ostensibly to study the effects of flooding and to apply the findings to his state. So, where is the study paper?
When will Malaysians protest en-masse at this blatant abuse of power?
7. Have greater compassion for animals
In some parts of the country, both civil servants and individuals target and kill dogs because of their mistaken belief that these dogs are haram in their religion.
First. It shows that these men do not understand their religion. Their religion may say that these dogs are considered “unclean” but there is no order for dogs to be killed on sight.
Two. These people lack compassion and humanity.
Three. Education has failed them.
8. Cherish your culture
One former prime minister claimed that people who use chopsticks to eat, have not ‘assimilated’ and become Malaysian. Despite his age, this man has little understanding of culture nor what it means to be a Malaysian.
The man who eats with chopsticks or knife and fork, is no less Malaysian than someone who eats with his fingers.
Malaysia derives its strength from the diversity of its people who are of many cultures and faiths.
Diversity leads to an understanding across cultures, promotes respect and tolerance. Each person has a unique and positive contribution to the larger society.
9. Reinvent yourself
The pandemic have forced many businesses to shut leading to the loss of jobs. Many families face an uncertain future.
Where possible, reinvent yourself. One lawyer is now making food videos on YouTube and although the money he earns is not as good as before, he cherishes the time spent taking care of his young children. Another collects surplus vegetables from farmers and distributes it to the poor. Another has started online courses in her chosen field – teaching a particular skill.
10.Bad things do not last forever.
Things may look bleak now, socially, politically and environmentally, and also health-wise. However, behind the scenes, more people are realising that change is necessary and plans are underway through information and awareness programs, to get rid of the corrupt and self-serving elite.
So, don’t lose hope and do start 2022 on a positive note. Things will definitely get better.
Happy New Year everyone!