Syerleena Abdul Rashid reminds leaders never to demonise fellow citizens and pit us against one another.
With all due respect, I am not here to tell you how to do your job nor am I here to criticise you – I am a firm believer that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion but one must be made aware of the consequences it may bring.
There is an old Arab proverb which states, “Arrogance diminishes wisdom”, and as a leader …, you must be made fully accountable for the things you said and the people whom you may hurt in the process.
But politics aside, I write this not as a political opponent – not today, but only as a mere Malaysian who has seen how demoralised and worn out most Malaysians have become because of the hatred, fear and lies that seem to pervade our country.
It fills me with great sadness that our beloved country is slowly but surely heading down a path our founding fathers fought hard against. When they created the federation, they had a vision where Malaysians could live together in harmony and prosper together.
And here we are in 2015, just five years shy of Wawasan 2020. Can we safely say that we can truly become a developed nation by then? Are we comfortable with stripping away our ethnicity in order to achieve the glorious concept of a Bangsa Malaysia? Are we at ease with one another’s religious differences and are we able to prevent any inkling of religious supremacy?
A majority of Malaysians, especially the Malay/bumiputeras, still live in economic disparity. We see the system perpetually abused by the cronies, the elite and the opportunists.
Our founding fathers created a system that ensured help was given to those who needed it the most, but somehow, somewhere along the way, the system was corrupted. Now those who really are in need of such assistance have been neglected, ignored and rendered insignificant.
Our economy is not where it was two decades ago. Malaysia was once known as the one of the Rising Tigers of Asia but due to severe mismanagement and abuse, we lost the chance to pursue the same riches Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea now boast.
The unemployment rate of our country now stands at 2.07 per cent, a figure that has remained unchanged since 2012 – or so we have been told. But surely, for a country with vast resources and opportunities, shouldn’t these figures decrease?
With many economists predicting 2015 will be a fiscally challenging year for Malaysians, we are faced with the colossal feat of preparing for the worst – and I dare use the word worst” because we are confronted with a rather bleak future. The implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will no doubt trigger inflation and this alone will lead to an adverse domino effect.
Trapped in a low-income cycle
You see, Malaysians are trapped in a low-income cycle; according to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), about 62 per cent of monthly contributors earn less than RM2,000 and 96 per cent below RM6,000. We are very far from achieving the high income nation status our prime minister envisions.
Most of us can’t afford to buy houses and are neck deep in car loans and student loans. We are made to spend more, pay more while our salaries are inexplicably low.
The structure that exists in this country only seemingly benefits those who are already well off and those who are in the good books of the elite few. Our government debt now stands at close to 55 per cent of GDP and the household debt has increased to more than 87 per cent of GDP, which happens to be one of the highest in the world.
We still want to know the relevance of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and (how the money from its) RM42bn (debt) was used – (money) that rightfully belongs to all of us and not just to the elite.
Arrogance is a trait no leader should embody. As a matter of fact, arrogance is detested in Islam. In the Qur’an, verse 17:37 states: “And walk not on the earth with conceit and arrogance. Verily, you can neither rend nor penetrate the earth, nor can you attain a stature like the mountains in height.”
Leadership stresses upon the importance of guidance and humility – not someone who constantly berates and abases the people he or she is meant to serve; compassion is about selflessness and empathy – authentic values all leaders must have. A leader is often thought to be someone mentally and emotionally strong, kind, and thoughtful – someone who has a sense of articulate elegance when they communicate.
The true face of racism and bigotry does not bear the image of the DAP, PKR, Pas or anyone who dares speak up against tyranny but rather, is only the manifestation of hard right-wing insecurities – founded on the unbearable fear of losing every ounce of power and influence. And your remarks, my esteemed minister, simply reflect the indoctrinated prejudices that your group believes in.
Our problems are not the Chinese businesses or the Chinese middlemen but only the system that has failed this nation. Leaders must never demonise fellow citizens by pitting us against one another nor should they ever attempt to stoke the fire of discontent and exploit the hopelessness some marginalised communities might have. Most of us felt your comments, which targeted some Malaysians of Chinese ethnicity, were uncalled for and rude.
A minister should always refrain from saying hurtful things and must always be made to remember that with great power comes a great responsibility – and your responsibility is to lead by example, so please stop the name calling, stop the slander and start figuring a way out of this quagmire.