Many voters in urban and semi-urban areas are worried about Perikatan Nasional’s inroads in the recent elections in six states.
PN’s rhetoric about the “three Rs” – race, religion and royalty – did not help.
The election outcome unnerved many among the minorities. They are now even more anxious about the tide of conservative Islamisation, apparently now at their doorstep.
After the elections, a viral WhatsApp message stoked more fear. The message said that changing demographic trends will marginalise the minorities even more.
Many among the minorities then wondered if there would be a place for them under the Malaysian sun in the next decade or two.
Such fear is not limited to Pakatan Harapan supporters.
On the flip side, some PN supporters are also worried. They worry that the ethnic minorities will one day take over not just the economy but the entire country as well. Some have been conditioned to believe they must vote in a certain way to safeguard their future.
This alarmist thinking on both sides of the political divide is unhelpful and counterproductive. It promotes fear and prompts us to view ‘the other’ with suspicion.
Some analysts wonder if the PN gains were driven more by economic disenchantment, especially among young people who see little hope in the future. Many of them have to work long hours as lowly paid delivery personnel, ride-hailing drivers and factory workers to earn enough for basic needs.
This sense of discontent provides fertile ground for those who want to plant the seeds of divisiveness and fear.
But in reality, all this fear and suspicion is unnecessary.
Our nation is a blessed land. It has abundant fertile soil and conducive weather to grow food. It has plenty of sunshine, which can be turned into renewable energy, instead of relying on fossil fuels. Its waters are teeming with fish, which provides a source of natural protein.
The land is not overcrowded. Most people work hard for a living.
There are plenty of resources for everyone to share, if public funds – raised through progressive taxation – are fairly distributed and rampant corruption eliminated.
If people work hard – and if they are given the right opportunities – there is no reason why anyone should be left out.
Not enough university places for desired courses? Expand the number of seats available, build more universities and colleges!
The school system producing too many dropouts and unemployed youths? Revamp the education system, improve teacher training and provide more opportunities for vocational training!
The federal government can learn from how the Monfort Brothers have provided skills training to countless youth from poor and broken homes.
Not only that, the Brothers have instilled values and morals among these youth as part of character formation and growth. They nurture the youth in self-awareness, leadership skills, self-esteem and relevant life skills.
The youth are trained to become machinists, hospitality industry workers, bakery and pastry chefs, electrical technicians, automobile mechanics and workshop supervisors, and facilities maintenance workers.
This is a land of enormous human potential. The “unity government” must tap into the potential in each one of us – irrespective of age, ethnicity, religion and geographical location.
While we are at it, consider too the foreign nationals, stateless people, refugees and asylum seekers living among us. For many of them, this is their home too. Allow them to live decent lives, receive a proper education and earn a decent living. If their full potential is tapped, they too can contribute enormously to the nation. They can also provide vital trade and export links to their original countries. Like them, many of our ancestors were in their position at one time.
Our challenge is to reach out to ‘the other’ and break down the walls of fear, prejudice and suspicion.
Malaysia is a land of milk and honey; it can be a beacon in a troubled world if we can harness the potential of each one of us to build a genuine “Madani” (Civil Malaysia) society – based on care and compassion for everyone.
After all, aren’t compassion, justice and care for the vulnerable attributes of God (or the divine) in all the major faiths?
For Christians, Jesus exhorts us, “Do not be afraid.” He urges us to love our neighbour as ourselves.
We are called to build a kingdom of love, compassion and justice and to take care of the vulnerable so that no one will be excluded from holistic development. There is no place for fear or anxiety or divisive thinking.
Instead, we live in hope that a more inclusive society is not only possible but essential for our collective future as a nation. – Herald Malaysia