The country and the people need to heal and move forward, for we have closed the chapter of an unending saga that lasted years. For more than six decades since our independence, the country and the people have achieved the unimaginable, albeit with much more potential and openings yet to be fully derived. Limitations and barriers in the form of systemic and endemic institutional weaknesses and abuses, polarisation and politicisation of race and religion, and mismanagement of direction and resources have been holding back our true potential as a great nation and a middle power that would have further cemented our position and influence.
For far too long, we have been our own worst enemy in derailing our path and in disintegrating our collective tools and propellers of great nation-building and progress for misplaced priorities and political agenda at our own expense. For the pursuit of power and maximisation of power, fear mongering, hate and polarising narration and intent are fanned for the short-term returns of political dominance and grip, at the expense of the greater fate and progress of the country. Entrenched political disdain and politics of emotions would prove to be a lose-lose situation for all, especially the collective interests of the people and the nation.
A new brand of mature, healthy and inclusive politics must be based on values, principles, self- correctness and sanctity of purpose and goals in rising beyond personal and party’s pursuit and causes for the bigger purpose of the country and the people. Firm adherence to rules-based order and sanctity of the law and the Constitution would provide a transcending stability and confidence in the democratic process, serving as the trusted bedrock of written consignment of law that is abiding and creating a commonly accepted trust, belief and allegiance by all who are subject to them.
Vibrancy of democracy
It is now time, finally, to end the decades-long ingrained usage of polarising themes in poisoning the direction and tempo of our politics. We must lower the political temperature, close ranks and continue to champion the vibrancy of democracy without being trapped by conventional tactics of the past.
Maturity in politics beyond the race and religion card would chart a new dawn for our path forward in terms of stability, progress and inclusivity, where the deciding factor is in our hands to come together to jointly embrace a new country-first agenda of common purpose.
The lure of power and the bait for positions, justified in the name of perceived political righteousness and pursuit, remain our entrenched dilemma that held us back. For true reform and rejuvenation of our state of politics and progress, efforts from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim alone will not be sufficient and it will need efforts by all. Regardless of political affiliation or race or religion or locality, we remain under the same roof of our beloved country, and that it must be made clear that in the new Malaysia and way of progress, there is no room for bigotry and hijacking of the racial and religious card to create discords and political wins.
For as long as race and religion are used as convenient power enablers, for politics of emotions to have a free reign, and for abuses of power and corruption to remain ingrained, we will remain trapped in an endless and vicious cycle of self-destruction. This new era now signals a new hope for the people, but it will need to address the root causes of our national diseases and build a new comprehensive and all-encompassing platform and culture of mutual respect, inclusivity and the concept of Malaysian unity. It sets a new dawn and cause of unity and inclusivity in moving the nation and the people away from the dogma and trapping of race and religion and corruption.
New dawn of confidence
Internal division and systemic ignorance remain one of the biggest denominators holding back our true potential. There is no absolute gains or losses in politics, and it should not be framed from within the narrow scope of one’s win is for another’s loss. In continuing to harp on this perceived disdain, fear or hatred and highlighting the danger of one’s gains or victory to another’s loss, we will forever be trapped in this abyss of disconnect, divide and hatred. A zero-sum approach should no longer be seen as just another political manoeuvre, and we must create a new dawn of confidence, resonance, affiliation, and sense of hope and purpose across the entire spectrum of the country and the people.
The disparity across states, regions and level of development and trust will need to be reversed, and we have to build more integration, exchanges, trust and cohesion through expanded and expansive development and core appreciation among the people and institutions, transcending the identity of institutions or affiliations.
The recent elections this decade projected true realities and gaps that will need urgent addressing. We collectively must confront and wisely and strategically address the gaps that would threaten to slow our progress and to limit our true potential in the future. These critical gaps include racial understanding and acceptance gap, regional East-West-North gap in the peninsula, the East-West Malaysia gap, the demographic gap, gender gap - ideological and political gap, education and knowledge gap, rich-poor gap, and technological literacy gap. For us to succeed and progress in an integrated, cohesive, inclusive and collective manner, a much higher concerted movement and political will are needed to have the audacity to break past barriers and dogmas, to one which is truly transcending in nature in the clarion call for a national purpose.
Despite all the perceptions, we remain well on the progressive path in terms of democratic principles and initiatives, and with the new reforms, we must strive to be a regional new beacon and bastion of good governance, values and principles and progressive growth that would restore our image, reputation and standing in the world.
We have an abundance of resources and progressive tools to be a great nation, where most countries can only dream of. We must start to capitalise on our shared strength for our common benefit and advantage. Rapid changes at the regional and global arena of economic and geopolitical dimensions will bring far wider reverberations and implications that will affect the whole nation, and we cannot afford to lose our edge. This is the opening for us to come together, consolidate our strength and wisely seize upon our critical advantage for us to reclaim our once great standing and clout both in economic and social progress.
In the new corridor of nation-building and in strengthening our true capacity in knowledge creation and economic opportunities, we must strive to create inclusivity, fairness, and justice and comprehensive capitalisation of our core strength in people, talent, resources and knowledge.
This is the time to spark a new beacon of hope and confidence, one that will bring back our own talent and expertise and attract greater talent, knowledge and investments from the world over. A new cornerstone must be set by us to transform our nation to be a new force of both tangible influential power and one that is rooted in value-based and principle-driven governance in a nation of greatness in morality and conviction of future-led norms.
Now is the time to restore, repair, reform and rejuvenate, and we must not let the past derail our common future aspirations and intent for us to move forward and to elevate our great nation to greatness. For this is our only known home, and everyone is obligated in our patriotic duty as proud Malaysians in committing resolutely and unyieldingly, our dedication and sacrifices for our country to make it better, greater and stronger. Hope and optimism abound and the best is truly yet to come, from all of us, stronger together.
Collins Chong Yew Keat is Assistant Registrar at Universiti Malaya.