Thursday, November 6, 2008
Malaysia must have hope and dreams
PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has said that it is possible for anyone from a minority group to be a nation's leader, even in Malaysia. He was asked by reporters if it were possible for a person from a minority group to become Prime Minister in Malaysia. Pak Lah has certainly given a positive and reassuring response, particularly when there are groups, including those from Umno and PAS, who tell us that a non-Malay should not be a general manager of PKNS. The dispute in PKNS isn't even about qualifications but race.
Sometimes we just need to calm ourselves down and think. Imagine, if you have a massive heart attack, do you really care what is the race of the cardiologist? Who cares if the doctor is a Malay, Chinese or Indian so long as he can save your life. Or for that matter, do we want our leaders to be clean, capable and competent or one who projects himself to be a hero of his community but is downright corrupt and surely a traitor to his own race, regardless of his rhetoric and claims of being a champion.
Does one's religion really matter? PAS leaders are saying that the party does not care about race or creed but they have stopped short of saying that the choice must be Muslim. Theocratic tyranny is as bad as racial tyranny, don't let PAS fool us. PAS president Hadi Awang has said it over and over again - he cannot accept the idea of having more non-Muslim MPs from Sabah and Sarawak.
So, let's not bluff ourselves into believing that under PAS, the non-Muslims will get a better deal. What PAS is saying is this - they will accept a non-Malay as a PM but he has to be a Muslim. Soon, the same principle would be used in senior government positions.
I think the non-Malays in this country are realistic. They are not asking for the sky. They are not asking to be Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister. But they are concerned, rightly so, too, at what is happening around them. The world has changed but for many, time seems to be at a standstill, in Malaysia. Or rather they are resisting the changes that are taking place.
Malaysians cannot afford to lag behind as the world opens up. It would be the greatest disservice we can do to our children. It cannot be business as usual or more of the same.
In Singapore, when people talk of immigrants, they talk of mainland Chinese, Indonesians, Indians and others. It has brought Singaporeans together because they find they have many commonalities. The Chinese grumble about the mainland Chinese, not Singaporean Malays and Indians. They have found the mainland Chinese kids to be smarter and more hardworking than they are, with more government scholarships going to the latter. But they have accepted this - competition is good and necessary.
In Malaysia, the same pattern would emerge as the demography changes. But in Malaysia, the future leaders could well be third-generation Bangladeshis, Indians, Nepalese, Cambodians and Pakistanis. Second-generation Indonesians like Khir Toyo became a Selangor Mentri Besar. Certainly, there are many others, too, in Umno or PAS. How can we then tell the Chinese and Indian children that they cannot be future leaders after they see Barack Obama become the US President? The future US presidents could be a South Korean or a Hispanic. It is important that we provide hope to our young, regardless of their races and religion. It's what the heart feels that matters the most, not the colour of our skins. If we kill their dreams, then Malaysia has no hope. Read On The Beat, Nov 9, 2008: