Better Together

Fellow Malaysians,

As we are all know, we are living in a very unique and diverse nation.
We are different by cultures, religion, race, gender, and many other gaps between us. Nevertheless, it is this diversity in us that makes us unique as one.

But since some time ago, we were very much divided. We were divided due to the actions of certain irresponsible politicians that divided us for obvious political reasons.

Those irresponsible actions have instigated a thought that we are divided by race, religion or gender.

As a matter of fact, we are not. But we are divided by politics. Politics have divided us for too long. And politics does not have to divide us.

Many of us were told that the logic is either we have to be pro-government or anti-government. It seems that we cannot stand in between. It seems that there can be no middle-ground.

This has caused partisanship at all levels. Partisanship has divided us extremely. And this extreme partisanship has been crippling the government to function.

And every politician from both sides bears this responsibility.

Partisanship in our nation has caused many issues among each other.

There is too much of pointing fingers at each other.

There is too much of blaming each other.

There is too much of shouting at each other.

There is too much of making fun of each other.

Yes, and we are too focused in toppling each other.

Our choices, when deciding a nation’s future, shouldn’t be political.

Our choices and decision aren’t supposed to be between left or right; liberal or conservative.

It is not between Malay, Chinese, Indian or any other races.

It is definitely not between Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Harapan or any political party.

It has to be a choice of a politics that will work for our nation.

We need a politics that focuses on bringing people together across party lines to work for the common good.

We need a politics that reconnects Malaysian with their government and offers a voice to the government leaders that cannot be ignored.

We need a politics that works the nation, and makes the nation works.

We need a politics that brings us together instead of tearing us apart.

We need to be Better Together; a better politics, a better nation, a better city, a better us. For a better future.

And we can only be Better Together.

Sense of Purpose

In this world, I rarely hear of any person who has never graduated from a university making a commencement address to graduating students. Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg could be the only two exceptions.

It was only last week when Mark Zuckerberg made his commencement address at Harvard and it gives me the inspiration and hope of doing what may seem a long journey.

The key points of his speech were the challenge of creating a purpose. The challenge for our generation is creating a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.

When we look at ourselves, our families, our friends and our community, doesn’t it look pretty much the same?

Many wakes up in the morning, rush to work, brash through the traffic hour, back from work, rest for a couple of hours, sleep, and the same thing runs all over again on the next day. Sometimes they spend some rest, family time or some hobbies in the weekends.

There is this story of when John F Kennedy visited the NASA space center, he saw a janitor carrying a broom and he walked over and asked what he was doing. The janitor responded, “Mr. President, I’m helping to put a man on the moon.”

The janitor could have grumbled about his job and low pay throughout his entire working life. But this janitor at the NASA space center decided to create a sense of purpose for himself. What if nobody cleans the space center, it becomes dirty and messes up the working environment? It could have influenced the health and working attitude of the engineers and astronauts. These small things could have made an impact to the mission of putting man on the moon.

This is what that has kept our society moving forward. It is our challenge, not only to create new jobs, but to create a renewed sense of purpose.

Pursuing meaningful projects together is one way to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.

Meaningful projects can come in different forms.

The driver who chauffeured our first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman around could have been seen just as a driver to some. But many never thought that he was the one that drove Tunku to important meetings that makes our nation’s independence successful.

The janitor at the Malaysia’s badminton training facility could have been only a cleaner, but he plays an important role ensuring the hygiene of the place, so that the players would not get ill.

The industrial sector of Penang would has been developed not only because of Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu; there are also his team of advisors, the state EXCOs, their assistants, and moreover the people of Penang who have put their tears and sweat working in the factories.

Many jobs could have been seen as job for us to earn a living. But if we put the sense of purpose into it, we could do great things.

As Mark Zuckerberg has said to the millenials who have just graduated, we have to also tell ourselves that it’s our turn to do great things.

We do not have to be a highly educated or attain a high level of skills to do great things. Use what we know and turn into a sense of purpose; then we could do great things.

What about putting our time educating poor children who have lack of access to education?

What if we could educate drivers to have a better driving etiquette? We could have reduce traffic jams and accidents.

How about getting the employees of a factory to conduct environmental friendly practices? Pollutions may have been reduced.

What if we could spend time discussing ideas and solutions for the community’s problems; and submits it to the government? This is what we call citizen participation; and this could be a new political culture that we can cultivate.

I believe these aims are achievable. Let’s do them all in a way that gives everyone in our society a role to be better; in creating a better city and community. Let’s do big things, not only to create progress, but to create purpose.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 2nd June 2017.

Challenging the Status Quo

Throughout the years, I’ve written quite a number of times in articles and introduced “new politics” to people that I have met. It is all about participating in a healthier and matured politics. “New politics” is a progress in politics that we should be pursuing at.

As progressive people living in a progressive community, we have always wanted improvements. We have campaigned for change in the government. Yes, I agree that we need a change, or rather, transformation.
In our life, we need transformations; to make improvements in the community, state and nation for the better.

But how do we define real change? I believe it is a good time to review our definition as we have already experienced a change of leadership in the government.

Eight years after the “ubah” factor swept the General Election, we should think again, where are we today? How much have we improved after a different political party took the lead in Penang?

Are we experiencing the type of change that we have sought after? Or is the change only a change of a different political party managing the administration?

Does the political system and way of conducting matters in politics still the same? Are we still facing the same problems as we have faced previously?

I think different groups of people will have different answers as everyone have different needs.

To me, I don’t see changes significant enough. There may be some huge publicity over some changes that have been done. That is because the real change needs to come from a political transformation or changes in the way of Malaysians practice politics.

If we want real change, we need to challenge the status quo in the politics.

Ask ourselves…

Do we Malaysian’s really want politicians who tell us hard truths about what it will take to solve our intractable problems? Or do we want politicians who tell us sweet lies?

Do we really want politicians who, because they are authentic, will sometimes say the politically incorrect thing; but doing the right thing? Or do we want politicians who are so fake that they say one thing, and do another?

Do we want politicians who earn our trust and are not owned by a certain elite group? Of do we want politicians who develop the state for only a special group of people?

Do we want politicians who take governing seriously rather than contesting in the elections for the sake of becoming an elected representative only? And running away to other constituencies when the existing ones do not favour them anymore?

Do we want politicians who are polarizing people into groups due to their race, religion or political beliefs? Or do we want politician who does not look into people’s differences, and instead uniting the people despite of our diversity?

We have to be reminded that we do not need to specifically champion for the cause of a specific race when we champion for Malaysians as one. We do not have to fight for Indian, Malay, Chinese or the rights of any race when we are fighting for the rights of Malaysians.

Today, the era of ‘government-knows-it-best’ is over. With lack of quality education in the past, many of our forefathers leaves the job of governing the nation to the few high educated ones. In those days, our great grandparents may not have the luxury of access to knowledge to know what is governing all about.

And today, with developments of our nation, the literacy rate of Malaysians have improved with the easy access of education and information. Most of us today have a basic understanding of public policies and governance. Many are able to give ideas and suggestions to the government to make a better community and nation.

It used to be a top-down approach. It is now a bottom-up approach. We, the citizens play an important role in making whether our nation is good or bad.

We, the citizen plays and important role in shaping the politics of today and what type of politicians should lead the government.

Coming back to the definition of ‘change’; perhaps change of leadership in the government is not as effective as we can imagine that helps us to improve our community and nation. Perhaps what we need is a group of people with fresh and more progressive minds to challenge the status quo of politics.

Challenging the status quo for the better needs a huge effort. We need to push new frontiers in political practice for the sake of being better together.

We have to do it together.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 19th May 2017.