From ground up: Only a few Malayans had to take arms in the nation’s struggle for freedom, like these local women who joined the Malayan Home Guard troops during the height of the Malayan Emergency in the 1950s. – National Archive
YESTERDAY I read a heart-wrenching piece by one of our towering Malays in academia, Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi, entitled A Meaningless Merdeka, where he laments on the sliding down state of the nation and our failing society. His utter despondency on the futility of trying to save our beloved Malaysia in a climate where in his words, ”peddler of religious capitalism comes to this country blaring insults… and ministers have dinners with him” and “Old Malaysia has just been given a new lease of life by a heart bypass”, seem like the norm today among the real thinking-class of Malaysia. His article hit every point like a nail-gun to the head.
Tajuddin was scathing and uncompromising in his words. I quote – “Malaysia is on a certain road of destruction ” and he continues with this damning pronouncement – ” I can definitely say that Malaysia is a failure”.
If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that the failure that is Malaysia is ours. You and me. Not someone else’s. We collectively failed. We did not do enough, and we did not do it early enough to right the wrongs. We did not do say no and stop when we should have.
We cannot blame politicians for being politicians. We cannot blame religious charlatans for being charlatans. We cannot blame opportunists and extremists to do what they do. They will do what they do because we allow them to and today we reap what we sow.
The fact is Malaysians have had it good. We got our Independence when the British Empire was in decline, washed up after two world wars and really wanted out. Even when we fought the communists the British were still here helping us along the way. In no way does that diminish the contributions of our heroes but we, as a society, never needed to see the prolonged cruelty, bloodshed and loss of a war for independence. Indonesia did. India did, a war of attrition like no other. We just did not.
We let others do the fighting for us and they managed to get it as best they could, and we continue to make a living from this natural paradise called Malaysia. We compromise our ideals because “let’s not make waves and hurt our rice-bowl”. Well, more and more of our rice bowl is being taken away and more and more of our opportunity and dignity are being crushed because we didn’t want to stand and be counted for what is right. Lo and behold, those that we left to do the fighting for us are the ones that seem to be taking them away and giving them to those who are making the most noise. Am I right or am I right?
Collective responsibility: We need to sacrifice for the good of society so that the next generation can have a better life.
This Merdeka, one year past the euphoria of May 9, again I say, I am convinced more than ever, that looking at politicians will not be the answer to the salvation of this nation. I believe the salvation for Malaysia will come from a class of citizens who, despite the prejudiced environment and the institutionalised discrimination we must live in, see the world for what it could be rather than what it is now.
These are the people who have decided that they are going to make the necessary changes to obliterate these divisions in their private and public lives. These people are the moderates, the liberals and the progressive thinking individuals, cutting across all racial and religious lines.
If you are one of these individuals then MAJU (Malaysian Action, Justice and Unity Foundation) is where we will organise and change Malaysia. Imagine a million such people under a wide tent, literally putting their names behind the movement. Imagine the resources at our disposal and the decibels of our collective voice under this one banner. We can change Malaysia.
This is how we change our society. We cannot wait for others to agree with us. We cannot expect politicians and elected officials to lead us. We must be the ones to take the initiative and mobilise and show a different narrative for this nation.
We must show the narrative of what it means to live in a society where freedom of religion is real, not where you say there is freedom and yet you stop others from exercising theirs. A narrative where Islam is kind and compassionate, and not dogmatic and judgmental. We must show how we can build a science-centric society that will take Malaysia to the next level.
We must change draconian and cruel laws. We must have laws that protect the weak and the marginalised instead of continually having our weakest sacrificed at the altar of commercial interests. We must make our society fair and equitable for all without regard for race or religion. That is the beauty of democracy. It is meant to perfect a better union. Do not wait until democracy is usurped and theocracy reigns in Malaysia.
It is imperative that progressives, moderates and liberals of Malaysia organise. We must be bold in our vision but we must conduct activism within the limits of what the law provides; and that is what standing on a platform together as citizens afford us.
We intend to change how civil liberties and humanitarian concerns are addressed, not on piece-meal basis but over an encompassing agenda. To do that we need the weight of numbers of our citizens behind us. You need to stand and be counted. You can no longer be anonymous. We must have the courage of our convictions. And with that we can even change the face of politics and political discourse in Malaysia. Time is not on our side. We must have a sense of urgency. Come with me and lets build a progressive tent no one could ever dream of in Malaysia. Let us MAJU together and truly MERDEKA.
Stay tuned for a new offer coming to you soon.