“Joachim, we’re not living in a developed country. Face itlar. Lower your Expectations.”, my friend of 30+ years of age who had worked in Singapore and is now happily married and with two kids living in KL said to me during one lunch time.
Yes, I agreed with him. We’re not quite a 3rd world country and we’re certainly not a developed country but no, I will not lower my expectations. I will not give up on one thing.
It is this: Hope. I look at my parents and they too take a cynical approach to daily life in Malaysia. They said to me: “Yeahlar, everyone knows. What to do?”
But, what can we do?
The events on 09.07.2011 have shown there is hope. Being there on the streets with 20,000 over (by my conservative estimates), I gained hope. It was a feeling like none other.
Seeing all these people from difference walks of life and from different parts of our nation yet standing united for truth and liberty and of course, electoral reforms. These were mothers, fathers, daughter, sons, sister and brothers who were not there for a political figure or for a non-political figure but for a cause and ideals. Marching for our ideals that Malaysia can be a democracy that truly walks the walk and upholds human rights while being a developed nation.
We can be both. A developed nation in one that the government does not require ‘strongman’ politics to push through legislation and sweep aside all opposition but can empower and engage all it citizens and even any opposition. Rather than demonising them and discarding what truth they may bring. What sort of democracy would we be? Doesn’t the word “Demos” mean “people”? No longer
Grounded in Hope.
I remember where it all started for me. Back in university around 2008, I was reading about the news back home and I uttered out loud, “What is our Malaysian government thinking? We’ll look like the laughing stock of the world!” My UK friend turned to me and looked at me and said, “Dude, your country already is!”
Immediately, I was jolted into reality. Contrary to everything you may have heard, let’s all face it : we’re a backwater nation living in the shadow of what our nation can aspire to be.
The first step to solving any problem is to accept the problem we have and to know where we are; Acknowledging but not giving in to that reality.
Then, the next step is not to give up hope and to continue laying each brick of building our nation.
What do you do with that hope?
Spread it and share it with your fellow Malaysians. That there is hope. Share but do not share in fear but in hope. If we were all to fear our own shadows, nothing will ever be done! Let us live in hope, not in fear.
You then turn that hope into action.
Register to Vote but vote wisely. I am proud of Tita, our 20 year-old domestic helper, as she cast her postal vote for her nation’s presidential election to choose a president for the most populous Islamic nation of the world, Indonesia! Imagine that! Compare that to our situation here.
Participate in civil society, but participate united and not for personal wealth or glory. Join organisations like TeachforMalaysia, UndiMalaysia, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM), The Bar Constitutional Law Committee (open to non-lawyers) and other civil societies.
Get involved further in the democratic process by being a Polling and Counting Agent (PACA) or join an election observation network to help observe and report on any misdeed by any parties during elections. In the Philippines and Thailand, you have monks, clergy, boy scouts and girl guides getting in on the act that thousands help with election observation yet you hear little of such things in Malaysia!
Do not despair
To despair is to give into in a sense of helplessness and to detach ourselves from our reality. I would rather face the truth than be fed sugar coated lies any other day.
Yet, events in the past week have shown us that the government of that day seeks to quell this sense of hope we gained. They have shown themselves as a government in denial and unwilling to engage with its citizens. Furthermore, they cast doubt upon the version of events that transpired on that day of hope – 09.07.11
But do not despair my brothers and sisters of Malaysia because hope will always triumph the day- Hope springs eternal.
From a distance, each of our individual efforts to better our nation may not seem much. But does not a bricklayer lay each of his/her brick not knowing how the house will turn out? Each brick we lay may not look much but each of these ‘bricks’ bring our nation, Malaysia closer. Closer to a home we truly all can be proud of.
So, do not despair and continue to hope. Hope for a better Malaysia.
Remember the 6 PSM members who are now in day 14 (as of 14.07.2011) of their detention under the Emergency Ordinance (EO). Candlelight vigils are being held of these 6 until they are released at Bukit Aman Police Station. Please come and share some hope for these brave souls who have been kept away from their families and are being prosecuted with little recourse.