What exactly are we ‘celebrating’ this Malaysia Day?

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Photograph: malaysiandigest.com

If we reflect seriously, some disturbing questions will prick our collective national conscience, JD Lovrenciear writes.

Politicians are busy mouthing slogans on this 57th Malaysia Day as the call to ‘celebrate’ Malaysia Day echoes across the nation, in East and West Malaysia.

But if we follow our conscience, then some disturbing questions arise.

Where is this country headed, given the ‘snollygosters’ (a US term for a shrewd, unprincipled person, especially a politician) who have perfected their solid grip on the nation?

What are we celebrating?

The resplendent mortar and glass gleaming in the urban skies? Built over the last few decades, such ‘development’ projects made vested interests laugh all the way to the bank while the rural folk have to be satisfied with a minimal or erratic supply of electricity and piped water.

Are we celebrating the great highways and toll plazas that make business technocrats and their political allies cash in with huge profits and perks, while urban road users struggle with high toll rates? Mind you, we still have rural folk crossing streams and mud tracks on foot to get to school.

While we beat the drums for the great private hospitals boasting world-class facilities, less developed towns and interior areas have to make do with basic if not pathetic access to quality healthcare.

On our 57th national birthday, we may cut the cake of ‘progress and development’, which has thick icing covering up the rampant corruption beneath. The 1MDB debacle is just one of many such scandals.

We are celebrating the many successes brought about by politicians while we hope to convict and punish wrongdoers – even as some certain individuals are not languishing under the weight of the rule of law and instead joining in the celebration in luxury and with protection.

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What are we celebrating today when, after 57 years, we are still indecisive, still squabbling over over language and the medium of instruction in our hallways of learning.

At 57, this nation still cannot wean itself from the tentacles of politicians and political parties that thrive by dispensing a divisive blend of religious and racial politics.

This 57th birthday also reveals another blatant, ugly truth.

Are we celebrating the fact that a democratically elected government was thrown out in a backdoor coup that saw a band of snollygosters grab power under a hastily stitched coalition?

Or are we celebrating the blows to our noble hopes of saving the dignity and honour of our nationhood?

Perhaps we are celebrating despite the expose that some political party enriched itself over the decades with billions of ringgit from a percentage cut of the wealth of this nation that was blessed with oil resources?

Or are we celebrating 57 years of systemic efforts to plunder our forests in the name of trade and profits?

Are we celebrating the fact that while Peninsula Malaysia developed on a fast track, development for our eastern brothers and sisters lagged far, far behind?

This Malaysia Day, let’s reflect on how the wealth of this nation has been plundered, so much so the gap between the haves and have nots, the elites and the ordinary people, the snollygosters and the honest citizens has widened to a yawning chasm.

We need a serious national reflection on this Malaysia Day.

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