Happy Independence Day
However, if we search the deepest parts of our soul, many would admit to thinking otherwise. I suspect many harbour feelings of envy, competition or resentment, to be exposed occasionally when hotheaded political leaders speak before thinking. For how many of us truly consider ourselves to belong to the Bangsa Malaysia? Instead, as noted on our drivers license, or IC, or even school report cards, we are either Bangsa Cina, Melayu, India or others. Political parties, schools, universities, even some medical centers (Pusat Rawatan Islams, Chinese Maternity Hospitals, etc) are racially divided. It's all a sore reminder that we're different, and that our practices promote disintegration.
Some argue that affirmative action (aka 'special rights') is still needed to safeguard the rights of certain races. However, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves, if affirmative action over 50 years of independence and 2 generations still has one race lagging behind others; is this truly something of benefit, or is this merely a crutch for people to walk with? For, if the latter is the case, one may become so dependent on the crutch that one is unable to ambulate without it.
The concept is simple. Protectionism, whether we apply it to race, or the car industry (take Proton for example), or education (pseudomeritocracy via the matriculation courses), in the long run does more harm than good. It decreases competition, efficiency, productivity; promotes laziness, inflation, corruption and abuse of power. It weakens a group, and makes it so comfortable that it strives less. As Charles Darwin put it, it's all about survival of the fittest. If you artifically promote the weak and not teach it to be strong, that species never betters itself, and outside of its protected bubble that species will never thrive. Recently, a leader reprimanded a group for relying too much on handouts. In the same papers, some groups were accusing a state leader for marginalising and not giving enough to a race. No one wants to admit; if you're gonna keep handing out candy for free, why should I work for it?
We talk big about 'towering' over others, or being 'glocal' (a word some politician coined, of being global yet local), but yet Malaysia is never seen as a serious competitor in the international world of research, medicine, education and the arts. Looking south towards our neighbour who is a younger nation than we, we wonder why we lag behind so much when we should be the older sibling, showing them the way. We wonder why most foreigners have heard of Singapore, but not of Malaysia. Why is it surprising? When we can't compete within our country without bias, how can we compete internationally? Thus we come up with fancy slogans and words to convince ourselves everything is fine and dandy.
Don't get me wrong; I love my country, its people and cultures. I miss it dearly, and for this reason I wish to see things improve. Being patriotic sometimes doesn't mean singing the anthem louder, or faster, or forcing people to hang flags on their homes. It isn't shutting up and accepting things as they are, for if we do not admit our faults, we can never improve on them. Sometimes the patriot is the one who truly puts the welfare of his nation above those of his personal biases and agenda. I'd like to see more patriotic leaders like that. Perhaps it is time for us to face reality, and to be up to the challenge.
Happy Merdeka Day, my fellow Malaysians.