What to say? I've been involved in some casual talk with certain knowledgeable people over the past week, around the topic of Malaysia's state of affairs. I can't dwell on this topic too much, or I'll get depressed. OK, not terribly depressed, but a bit discouraged. Why? Firstly, because of the sad sad state of the nation in the hands of kindergarten kids masquerading as politicians, and secondly, because I seem pretty much hapless to do anything. Yes, I know, the Bible says we should pray for the king and those in authority, and submit dutifully to the God-ordained government. And I shouldn't just let situations dictate my mood. But it's sometimes easy to lapse into cynicism and despondence when hearing "insider" stories about recent events. Perhaps it's gossip and even slander, but the trend seems to show that, here in Malaysia, rumours become news. Just give it some time. Some of the conspiracy theories are incredibly juicy, but unfortunately too "seditious" to publish, even online, unless I wish to have a firsthand experience of the interior of Bukit Aman or some detention centre. Haha!
Some points to consider:
1. Malaysia is losing her competitiveness. Everyone's talking about it. I'm not an expert on this, but this is what I've been hearing. FDI is redirecting everywhere else. Investors have much more choice now. Gone are the glory days. Our politicians must get out of their "katak di bawah tempurung" mentality. Do these folks know that there are other countries out there that are looking very attractive to investors? As both production bases as well as markets.
2. Narrow-minded leaders continue to play the racial card to garner support for their selfish political ambitions and financial gains. These fellas manipulate simple-minded folk by instilling fear and mistrust of others, instead of building up their own capabilities. Hello? There are other nations on Planet Earth too, y'know? Racial politics is still alive and kicking, and I haven't even touched on religious and money politics yet!
3. Outdated policies of yesterday are relegating our so-called corporate giants into backyard players. Look at Thailand. Next year, they're gonna make over a million vehicles, with 40% for export. What does Malaysia have? Malaysia has a national car industry, and Thailand has an international car industry. Perhaps you could argue that Thailand has a bigger domestic market, thus they can grow bigger. But exporting is a different story, isn't it?
4. The wealth ownership and income disparity is growing, despite the efforts of the government to redistribute wealth. And it's not just the disparity between the races that is the issue, but nowadays it's also the intra-racial disparity. The problem is, certain leaders are more content to give out fish rather than teach people to fish. These leaders know that giving out fish retains their power, and keeps people under continual servitude.
5. A lot of Malaysia's development has been funded by oil money. Question is, how long can we depend on such finite resources? Our agriculture sector is lagging behind, except for plantation crops. Our IT development in the MSC is more of a real estate project than IT development. I mean, with broadband and wireless technology, do we HAVE to concentrate people in buildings in the middle of nowhere? Sure, building a new city creates a lot of jobs for construction companies, but with borderless IT infrastructure, I'd say it's easier to pull in a few fibre cables into existing buildings in KL than to take years to build a new "smart" city. And those construction companies can go build other more necessary stuff, like the East Coast Highway, or more affordable urban housing. Hello TM, performance of Streamyx is getting really crummy.
6. We're fighting against a legacy of short-sighted and incredibly poorly planned infrastructure, for example, the Putra and Star LRT systems which do not integrate with each other. And the monorail which does not connect with KL Sentral. The stations don't integrate and you need different tickets for different operators. I don't even want to know why one public transport system in one city was developed by so many parties with so many different systems.
7. We're still recovering from the financial crisis of 1997/98, whereas other folks have already moved on?!? See the performance of the stock market as an indicator.
8. The education system is ____________ (Fill in the blanks).
9. And I could go on... but it's getting late.
10. Add your own grouses here: .................................................
So, what can I do besides dropping on my knees and praying for the nation? Yeah, I should confess my own iniquities while interceding for the nation, like Daniel did in Daniel 9. Don't be part of the problem, or at least, try not to be. Pay your taxes, and then demand your right as a taxpayer. Vote in the next election, because you get the government you deserve. Read alternative news to get a balanced view. Don't just watch TV3 or RTM, or CNN or BBC. Watch Aljazeera also. Don't just read the NST or Star. Read Malaysiakini also. Don't let it get you down. But at least know a bit more of what's going on. Take the PM at his word on the fight against corruption. Don't let him get away with it. Work with him, not for him. There's more openness now compared with the times of Dr M, but of course, some clamps remain in place... too much clampdown causes loss of blood circulation which causes gangrene which leads to death...
However, Malaysia is blessed with natural resources and a rich legacy of (pretty) good governance... much more blessed compared to many other developing nations. Yes, I must say, we're blessed. We have much to thank God for. We've done well. It's not all gloom and doom. But I believe we could be doing even better.
And of course, every country has its problems. There's no perfect government. No perfect society. But I'm trying to look at where things could be better for everyone. Even the mighty USA has its fair share of incompetencies and corruption. And Singapore... ah, you know la. Oh, did I say anything about Indonesia? Let me sniff the air first. ;)
The future looks bright, if oil continues gushing out of the ground and seabed. But, when the oil runs out, what will Malaysia have to offer?
p/s Sorry for being negatively one-sided in my comments above. I don't have time to balance it. Perhaps I'll follow-up later with some nice words about where things are still looking bright and cheery down in sunny Malaysia.