Saturday, May 12, 2018

A New Era

It's the dawn of a new era. And I'm sure my many other fellow Malaysians feel the same way.
Truth be told, I have not read the Malaysian news for some months. There was a time I read The Star and such daily- as you might recall the days when I was an avid writer to the Letter to the Editor section.
However, as the months and years went by, the news got more and more discouraging. The racism, corruption, abuse of power. So I heeded a mentor's advice- a fellow Malaysian who left our Tanahair many years before me: "You've left- best to not know what's going on and follow the news. It brings only heartache". 
So true. Except there was no running away; the abuse of power got so bad that Malaysia came up even here numerous times. My American friends were in disbelief- the sheer magnitude of the 1MBD scandal, getting even the Justice Department here involved. They asked: why isn't Najis et al in jail? How are they still in power?
Well, last week, you, my fellow Malaysians, in an act of unity never before seen, toppled the corrupt BN and its leaders. Something I did not expect to see in my lifetime- but yet inside, across the oceans, I was bursting with pride and joy, to see what you accomplished (disclaimer: I take no credit for it as I am not a registered voter).
The shockwave resonates even here; some of us got together to have a celebratory dinner- no teh tarik where we live but we celebrated over a chilled margarita on a warm spring afternoon. And it's no exaggeration to say that it felt like it was a new chapter, like the air was fresher, and the future seemed brighter. If you're Malaysian, I'm sure you know what I mean. And that's from someone who left Malaysia 19.9 years ago (yes, it will be 20 in a few months).
For decades, BN played racial politics, fanning the fires and using the divide-and-conquer strategy. For decades, we were known by our kaum/agama rather than our similar bangsa- it was inspiring to see the opposition movement was led by people of all backgrounds- skin color did not matter. And to see that even our Malay compatriots saw through race, to vote away the corrupt UMNO.
The next step, this is undiscovered country. One that is full of hope- though a part of me remain leery- so my hope for the leaders and the country- is to maintain the common vision for a better, more harmonious, economically stronger and more educated Malaysia- and to not fall back into the trap of racism. Or internal squabbling within the party. And, perhaps most of all, recalling the common saying that power corrupts- I pray that our new leaders led wisely, justly and be free of corruption.
It has been a while, but now I can again proudly declare that I am Malaysian.