By Puteri Balkish
Without realising it, we are already halfway through 2017 and for the past six months, a number of announcements and changes have been made. A few incidents have also raised public attention.
Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, dropped a bombshell when he announced the government’s 30-year transformation plan last October, the Transformasi Nasional (TN50), which will span from 2020 to 2050.
A number of opposing views came along prior to the announcement of this new plan, which appears more like a stratagem for some as it appears to serve as a replacement for Tun Dr. Mahathir’s Wawasan or Vision 2020 and a show of the governments’ incapability of actualising the initial goal.
In January 2017, civil social activists initiated a campaign to insert the Rukun Negara as a preamble to the Federal Constitution with the claim that there is a ‘lack of political will to shift the principles into policies, according to Yayasan 1Malaysia chairman, Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, being one of the few activists involved.
These two incidents are among the few paradigm shifts initiated for Malaysia to evolve as a developing country, but the question is, are we really making progress?
Let me break it down to you in the form of several incidents that went ‘viral’ on social media and some that made the headlines.
This month, in June 2017, the country was brought to a shock when a Malaysian navy cadet, Zulfarhan Osman, from Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (National Defence University Malaysia), was tortured to death in his dorm for 12 days before his death.
Apparently, the cadet who had his laptop stolen went to a ‘bomoh’ to ‘seek help’ and Zulfarhan was accused of stealing.
Why did the students even decided to take matters into their own hands? A case of theft could be dealt with the law, no?
When this incident went ‘viral’ on Twitter, many had a say regarding the issue, including the famously known actor, writer, scriptwriter and investment analyst, Redza Minhat, who sparked a debate on ‘ragging’ cases rehearsed in universities and institutions.
He talked about the ‘senior-junior’ practice that entitles the ‘seniors’ a green light to validate their acts of bullying to ‘discipline’ their juniors.
Nonetheless, there were a number of people who responded to him saying that ‘ragging’ is necessary especially in a military school to ‘toughen up’ the cadets.
Another case took place in Georgetown, Penang, involving T. Nhaveen’s murder after being beaten up by his ex-schoolmates. He was apparently a ‘softie’ but does this nature validate the act of harming an innocent soul?
Why are we even in the 21st century if there are still people in our country advocating violence and abuse?
Also this month in Kluang, Johor, a Pakatan Harapan representative was distributing dates at a Bazaar Ramadan for buka puasa but then was shooed away by a person who claimed to be an imam. Why should this man even use that reason to shoo a non-Muslim who only intends to do good, just because he is a non-Muslim? I am sure, they are aware of the ‘halal’ notion when it comes to food. Why was it made into a political issue?
In May 2017, ‘the slap’ happened involving one of Malaysia’s well-known producers, David Teo, and a comedian known as Mat Over during the Prime Minister’s TN50 dialogue with members of the local entertainment industry.
Actor Rosyam Nor as the moderator was said to have disregarded questions from people at the back, which caused David Teo to speak up. When he did, Mat Over then proceeded to give him ‘the slap’.
The two men later came on stage and what appeared to be a truce ended the dispute. However, no one called out Mat Over up to this very day for slapping David Teo.
Does being vocal or ‘rude’ validate assault then? Why were several people calling out David Teo for speaking up but did not comment on Mat Over’s ‘over’ actions? Does it mean that slapping another person publicly is a civilised way to teach someone a ‘lesson’?
In April 2017, Nur Sajat, famously known on Instagram, also an entrepreneur who owns a beauty product and cosmetics company revealed that she was born a hermaphrodite or otherwise known as ‘khunsa’ in Malay. Basically she has or had two genitals.
What became a family secret for 31 years came to the public. Nur Sajat received tonnes of backlash from the locals because her nature was not perceived as a norm.
People were mean to her to a point where they would call her names like ‘pondan diva’ and ’mak nyah’. Transgender or not, why are people pointing their haram wands around as if they are saints?
Look, what are we really doing as citizens of Malaysia? Are we just clouding our minds with a mirage that our country is really doing well or are we just delusional to a point that we do not realise that the root of the problem is our behaviour? Why do we become selective and stereotypical when it comes to respecting people around us? Have we lost the single speck of respect we have towards ourselves?
We constantly point fingers at each other but none of us wants to be the agent of change. “Educated” urban citizens should also bear in mind that they do not represent the majority of people living outside of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. Yes, they might not be as ‘educated’ but the voice of the urban citizens do not represent their plights.
Holier-than-thou’s should learn to not always attribute things bluntly to the haram notion, and think logically as well. If religion makes a person feel ‘entitled’, then aren’t we worshipping our ego instead of the ever-deserving Creator of ours?
Racial slurs are not supposed to be seen or taken as a joke as well. The “K” and “P” words are used prevalently in the Malay community like a second language to the Indians, and then we associate pigs with the Chinese, but we then act oblivious as we blame them for disrespecting the Malay community when they label us malas or bodoh. We are all very stereotypical of each other, and we claim to be ‘diverse’. Aren’t we ashamed of ourselves?
I am not here to point fingers, just to conclude that change and progress can only be done from within. Bersatu teguh, bercerai roboh. Despite the so many changes to be done by our government, none would be executed smoothly if the people refuse to shift their mindset. I strongly believe that before change is for the nation, the nation has to change.***