Stand resolute for change in 2017

Bougainvilleas along the edge of an open monsoon drain burst into full bloom on New Year's Day 2017.

Those who believe in a better Malaysia must not allow ourselves to be bullied into a silence of obedience. More than ever, we need to speak out against the many injustices around us, says Prema Devaraj.

New Year greetings to all our readers and supporters. The journey in 2017 has begun.

Aliran remains deeply concerned over excessive and seemingly uncontrollable corruption, the mode of development which prefers profits to people, the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots, the difficulty of ordinary people in coping with the rising cost of living, intolerant and divisive religious extremism, and the use of a variety of laws on human rights defenders.

We remain equally concerned about the plight of indigenous peoples to their own self determination and their right to land, the non-recognition of the rights of migrant workers and the refugee communities, and the vilification of the LGBT community.

It is clear that on a variety of fronts, standards of good governance continue to be ignored, and the simple decency of treating fellow human beings with respect is absent.

As much as we despair, we must all continue to rail against the shenanigans of those who rule without a moral compass. For those of us who believe in a better Malaysia, we must not allow ourselves to be bullied into a silence of obedience. On the contrary, more than ever, we need to speak out against the many injustices which continue to occur daily.

Many of us share a dream of a better Malaysia. The tens of thousands who took to the streets peacefully for Bersih 5 is testament to this and is indicative of the power of the people.

2017 gives us another chance to renew our efforts on various fronts. We may very well see a general election, another opportunity for change. Much of this depends on our ability to set aside differences and come together as a united force under a principled leadership.

Aliran calls upon our friends to draw breath and take heart. We stand in solidarity with all who struggle against the myriad of injustices in this country. We stand resolute in our endeavour for a better Malaysia.

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers
but to be fearless in facing them.

Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain
but for the heart to conquer it.

– Rabindranath Tagore

Onwards. There is much to do.

Prema Devaraj
Co-editor, Aliran newsletter
1 January 2017

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Prema Devaraj
Dr Prema Devaraj, previously a long-time executive committee member, was elected Aliran's first woman president in November 2016. She is also a programme consultant with the Women's Centre for Change, Penang.

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