We failed Vision 2020

It is just a couple of days before we approach the new decade. 

It is also the year that probably every Malaysian was looking forward during the 1990s. 

If we can remember well, it was in 1991 that Tun Dr Mahathir introduced the Wawasan 2020 during the tabling of the Sixth Malaysia Plan. There were several goals and objectives that has been laid down which is to be achieved by the year 2020.

I was in my early years of primary school back then. I vividly still can recall the whole Wawasan 2020 vibes when it was introduced. I would say the whole branding and marketing of the Wawasan 2020 is pretty effective, or perhaps for a kid like me back then. It was on the newspapers, televisions, radio, government events, government offices, and promoted in schools as well. The one that I remember the most is that almost every colouring and drawing competition during that time was about Wawasan 2020.

30 years have passed since then, and the year 2020 is finally approaching. Have we actually achieved the goals of the Vision? Let us look back at each one specifically.

The first one is to establish a united Malaysian nation made up of one Bangsa Malaysia. It is easy for me to judge this. I’d say we have failed this totally. Up until today, we are still talking about protecting and fighting for the rights of our respectives races, and not Bangsa Malaysia. We had a Malay congress, and now the Chinese wants to have their own congress. So are we saying that in every couple of months, there will be other races having their own congress as well? Why haven’t any leaders in the country thought of holding a true Malaysian congress instead? It will be 2020 in just a few years and we are far from achieving this first challenge of Wawasan 2020.

Then we are looking at fostering and develop a mature democratic society. The last parliament session saw one Member of Parliament making fun of a religious practice over the ashes of Chin Peng. There were a couple of times the session was suspended for the lack of quorums and empty seats in the block of Government MPs. An MP watching a football match in the august hall of the Parliament. MPs arguing and debating due to partisanship, and not based on the issues raised. Now tell me, when are we able to foster a matured democratic society, if the nation’s leaders are of such attitude?

And we also wanted to establish a scientific and progressive society. Perhaps the flying car prototype might help? Or not? Although I have confidence in our own people to advance in this field, but I still believe in the leverage of working together with other nation to move forward in a quicker pace. For instance, the involvement of a China company in Proton is helping us instead of waiting for the company to die down slowly. We have great people in the tech industry. Grab is a good example, but unfortunately, the company has moved its base to Singapore. Why? I think we should refer to the policies of the Government in the tech industry.

As kids, we have lots of imagination back then in the 1990s. Thanks to the blockbuster scientific movies like The Matrix, Terminator, Men in Black and Stargate; it has fueled wonderful imaginations for kids like me of the year 2020. Modern transportation and buildings, robots, flying cars and many sophisticated devices was imagined. But, now?  

I don’t want to sound too negative though as I think we have positive vibes to be happy about though.

I think the Malaysian community is not all that bad. If it is not for irresponsible politicians trying to fan racial sentiments, we have a fairly harmonious society. People don’t have issues of other race and religion observing their celebrations. All of us have friends or neighbours from different background, but we do not have any serious confrontational issues. 

Overall, I think we did not achieve as what was depicted in the Wawasan 2020, particularly when it is about race and religion. 

I wouldn’t say that the leaders and politicians are the sole ones responsible for it, but they played a key role in it. I reiterate again that our politics have been too focused on power and money, which makes Wawasan 2020 a failure. 

I hope this coming new decade and hopefully in another 30 years to come, we would have an impactful positive change, and it should begin with a healthier politics and governance.

Let’s hope for a best one ahead, and Happy New Year to everyone.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 31st December 2019.

The indication of Tanjung Piai

After a gruelling three weeks or so of battling in the Tanjung Piai by-elections, finally we are back to our day-to-day works again. It was a devastating results for Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, only managing to obtain only 1,707 votes from the Tanjung Piai voters. Nevertheless there was much lesson to experience from this by-election and learn about the current political scenario of Malaysia.

Based on the results of Tanjung Piai, we can see that the Malaysian political system, political style will remain for quite some time.

The way politics were conducted by political parties will still be the same especially in times of elections. Identity politics will still be used, particularly in terms of ethnicity when it comes to campaigning for votes. It seems that there are certain community that feels that Muslims are to be protected with special privileges. It is still as though that only a person with the same ethnicity will only protect one of their own. Why haven’t we really thought that even Malays can protect Chinese and Indians; or Chinese can also protect the Malay and Indians? Or why don’t we have that mindset that whoever is elected, is a Malaysian, and to entrust his or her ability to protect every Malaysian?

During the by-election campaign, we still notice Ministers, Deputy Ministers and government officials “turun padang” to the constituency to make announcements of development projects be it major or minor. Re-tarring roads are so common that it is a “must-thing” to do in every elections. Despite that, we surely welcome such developments, but why now? Why does it only happens during by-elections? Do we only need by-elections to happen so that the respective constituencies to be given attention? What has the elected representatives been doing?

Negative politics, criticism, and attacking is such a norm in elections that it is as though people vote based on who is the lesser devil. We are focusing so less on who can deliver better progress, who have the better capability to represent the people.

As far as I have read about politics about 20 years ago, politics were played that way back then, and it is still now.

The Tanjung Piai by-election results is also giving a clear indication that a third force, independent party or independent candidate will not strive in Malaysian politics for quite some time. The total number of votes combined among the independent parties and candidates, couldn’t even secure the deposit.

The battle within the two major coalition, Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan will continue until Malaysian voters can accept the rise of a third force, but when?

Based on the campaign and response from the voters of Tanjung Piai, building a third force that really matters in Malaysia will require a huge effort and political education among the public.

It makes us ponder, how does the Tanjung Piai voters voted in this by-election? Are they voting because Barisan Nasional can bring them development? Or are they voting because they are angry towards the rule of Pakatan Harapan? Did any of them ponder if there is an alternative choice that can voice out for them?

I think we still have a long way to go to achieve an effective and matured democractic country.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 19th November 2019.

The ninth by-election. A different feeling. A different thought.

Last Saturday was the nomination day for the Tanjung Piai by-election. The feeling was different. There were no supporters that come from another political party. We only come from different places; but from the same political party which was formed since 1968.

Frankly, I was feeling anxious on the night before the nomination day although I am not the candidate. Feeling worried yet excited. Worried of ourselves not being able to garner the morale and momentum needed for the two weeks campaign. There were even some members who were feeling doubtful of us even developing the campaign mood for the by-elections.

But that Saturday was totally different and motivating. We woke up as early as 5am to get things prepared for our candidate to be nominated. The morning started with a little quiet and sober moment; more like a gathering of party members. 

As our crowd begin to swell with more and more members, small chats developed into members motivating each other; and further continued with small chants. When our candidate, Wendy Subramaniam arrives, the group gets even more excited and soon each of us leading our members into shouting war cries. 

“Satu Hati, Undi Wendy, Satu Hati, Undi Wendy”

Before that, we have the strength and voices of coalition partners shouting together. But we have never tested our own strength before, individually. That Saturday, we have seen our own strength, ourselves. Members standing under the hot sun for three hours at least, not moving away; continued cheering until the candidate was successfully nominated. That Saturday, it was simply exhilarating and motivating.

Weeks before that, I have been actively getting involved in the preparation for the by-election.

Although most of the operational structure is similar, there is a sense of distinct in this one’s.

Obviously, it is the first time in 50 years, we are using our own triangular logo once again for elections.

We are no longer working together in a coalition party this time around. Despite not having the benefit of coalition parties assisting us in the elections, I do see several benefits though.

We do not have to go through the hassle of negotiating with coalition partners anymore. It could sometimes be problematic with partners who do not go along with what you believe in, and those who are demanding can be troublesome.

We are also forcing ourselves to move forward with a truly Malaysian ideology. Previously, we depend on race-based parties to campaign within their own respective racial community. Today, we have to go to the ground despite which race our campaigners are, we campaign as Malaysians. We need to prove that we do not need a leader from a race to fight for the rights of the same race. Similarly goes to religion. That is because we are advocating for the benefit of all Malaysians regardless of race, religion or gender.

We were definitely taking a huge risk and challenge to contest in this by-election as an alternative force. But I feel that it should be a risk that should be taken. 

We have to introduce the idea of a viable alternative choice for the people. The two huge coalitions has been fighting and politicking too much in the country that I think many important agendas for the people have been forsaken. 

Both coalition has been striving and arguing for the sake of toppling the other and gain power. That is when I thought we need a stronger alternative choice to be developed, and not only Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia.

Even if Pakatan Harapan retains the seat or Barisan Nasional manage to swing the seat, it wouldn’t make any difference in the Government. Pakatan Harapan will still be the Government, and Barisan Nasional will still be the Opposition.

But if an alternative force is given the mandate, it will give another viable voice of the people in the Parliament. It also serves as a warning to politicians not to politicised matters and focus too much on power struggle.

I believe Malaysians need to make a difference in our nation’s political scenario, we need to push the politicians to fight for the people, and not fighting over power. And that is when an alternative choice is needed.

That Saturday, changed our morale and momentum. Next Saturday, we will depend on Malaysians to change the mentality of our politicians.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 5th November 2019.

A third choice?

Decisions are one of the things that we do most everyday, whether we notice it or not. From very small decisions like what to wear and what to eat; to huge decisions such as which job to apply, which car or house to buy.

Whether it is making simple day-to-day decisions or big decisions in life, we make decisions based on valid reasons.

When we make decision on what time to take a shower very much depending on what time we have to go to work or what time is our appointment. 

When we are to decide what to eat for lunch, depends on what is available at that time, what does our tastebuds love or maybe when it is during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, then we have to take vegetarian food.

These are much simpler decisions that we make daily, but it still has a valid reason and choices out there.

Making bigger decisions might require longer and more in-depth process though, for example when we buy a car.

The first thought is usually the budget, how much can we afford the car. Then we consider the practicality of it, whether how big our family is, what kind of terrain to we usually drive by, do we carry a lot of things daily, or how efficient is the after-sales service of the company?

We will also look into the technical aspects; how fast can the car go, is it cost-efficient when it comes to petrol, is it environmental-friendly, does it connects to my handheld-device, and many other things.

Or some may decide more on the aesthetic part of it, such as the design, the colour, the type of the rim or the lights.

This of course, comes with a lot of choices. 

But when we decide on who is our representative in the Parliament and State Assembly; and who to govern our country, do we have choices?

Since the first general election in 1955, there is only one coalition that won the majority of the Parliament seats in the country and rules the Government, which is the Alliance, and subsequently formed the Barisan Nasional.

There was a sudden shock for the ruling party in 1969 where they lost a significant number of seats although they still remain as the Government; until in the 1990s that we see a stronger opposition coalition beginning to start-up. Then, it was the Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah and Gagasan Rakyat that came out to contest against Barisan Nasional. The coalition subsequently breaks up though and some of the parties came up with Barisan Alternatif to run against the ruling party in the 1999 and 2004 general elections.

The opposition coalition kept evolving and grew into Pakatan Rakyat; then Pakatan Harapan, and as we all knew it, they won in the 2018 general elections.

Since the 2008 general elections, Malaysians made a two-party system came true, whereby we have a significant strength among the opposition Member of Parliaments.

Despite all the scandals, corruption and negativity in politics; I think the political scenario gives a good hope for democracy in Malaysia. From having only one significant choice of a political party; we have grown to a two stronger choices of political parties.

But are we able to grow even further in democracy by having more stronger political parties in Malaysia? Do we have more choices when it comes to choosing who to represent us in the Dewan Rakyat? Do we really want just a two party system where we are forced to vote either one of the two which may not be suitable?

A third choice may sound ideal, but is it able to grow in our country? 

Usually, third parties face an uphill battle in terms of electoral success due to political system in a democratic country like Malaysia. Even in instances where the potential supporter may align themselves most with a certain third party, in the face of overwhelming odds against impacting an election, it makes more sense just to stay home or back a coalition party in compromise.

Growing into a stronger two-party system has also created more political bickering than ever in our country. Politicians are quarreling and criticizing each other just because they are not from the same party. Due to the strength of both coalition, the petty bickering seems non-stopping. The Government has forgotten about their responsibility of ruling, and the opposition has forgotten about their role of monitoring. What these two huge coalition focuses is to topple each other in the next general elections. 

Probably it is high time that we advocate for a stronger third party to arise. A third choice to remind the roles of the Government and the opposition. A third choice to remind that we have to make the country better, and not the political party better.

When we choose to buy a car and a house, we consider with so much details and choices. I think the same should be done when we choose who to govern our country.

What truly matters is not which party controls the government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 8th October 2019.

Haze, haze go away

It is that time of the year again.

It is hot, dry and the schools are closed as though it is the summer holidays.

The Westerners equipped themselves with bikinis and trunks while the Southeast Asians are prepared with breathing masks.

The lowlands looks like it is shrouded with mist; except that it is shrouded with haze.

The haze crisis in Malaysia and Southeast Asia is not something new.

The first appearance of haze in Malaysia was probably decades ago.

In recent years, the crisis has gotten more often with the problem happening almost every year, just a matter of different degrees of seriousness. It does not happen only in one country. It is a transboundary issue mainly across Southeast Asia.

The major haze crisis began in 1997, when the haze covered most parts of Southeast Asia, whereby Kuching recorded an Air Pollutant Index (API) of 860 during that period.

2006 recorded another round of a major haze issue when the effects can be felt as far as South Korea. The occurrences of El Nino made the problem worse during that year.

The 2013 haze was considered one of the worst that Southeast Asians have experienced. That year was notable as the haze caused record high levels of pollution in several cities. The API in Singapore reached a record high of 401 on 21 June 2013. On 23 June 2013, the API in Muar increased to 746 which caused the declaration of emergency in that city in the south of Malaysia.

We faced another year of crisis in 2015 when a serious level of haze hits again. Flights were disrupted, education institutions were closed, many have to seek medical assistance for respiratory issues. That year alone, the Indonesian Government estimated that the haze crisis would cost about US$35-47 billion to mitigate.

What makes the matter important and should be highlighted is that it is not a natural disaster. It is caused by humans. The haze is largely caused by illegal agricultural fires due to industrial-scale slash and burn practices in Southeast Asia particularly Indonesia and Malaysia. Apparently burned land can be sold at a higher price illegally, and eventually used for activities including palm oil and pulpwood production. Burning is also cheaper and faster compared to cutting and clearing manually.

Despite losing billions of dollars annually due to the haze crisis; despite having talks and discussions every time the haze appears; we still couldn’t solve the issue. Haze still keeps coming up every year, because of human greed.

Lack of action and political will to tackle the cause of the haze especially towards the planters that uses the slash and burn techniques to clear the forests has been causing the unstoppable issue.

It is time for the Southeast Asian countries to collaborate together with the Indonesian Government to act against the culprit of the companies that are causing fires across the region. One obvious action that perhaps we are not tough enough against the Indonesian Government and companies that are causing the fires and pollution.

Although the Southeast Asian countries has ratified the ASEAN agreement on transboundary haze pollution, it was criticised for not being effective.

The agreement was deemed as lacking enforcement mechanisms. This is due to the official system of rules that informs this agreement is the ‘ASEAN way’ of diplomatic conduct. This basically means that the countries in ASEAN shall not interfere with another country and are expected to act in their own self-interest respectively.

Furthermore, by looking at the commitment of the ratification of the agreement, Indonesia which is the main contributor of the haze is the last country to ratify in 2014; 12 years after it was first introduced in 2002. We should be proud that Malaysia is the first country to ratify the agreement.

But with the haze crisis remains despite the agreement, perhaps our Malaysian Government must take the act to another level. A law must be set to take action against the culprits of the pollution. A good example is the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act which is implemented by the Singaporean Parliament that criminalizes conduct which causes or contributes to haze pollution in Singapore.

If there is still lack of awareness and will in our region, maybe we will need a Greta Thunberg of Southeast Asia to remind people to make history and stop haze from happening again.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 24th September 2019.

Mat Rempit to GoJek?

Do we remember since when did the conflict between the taxi drivers and Grab began? It was long enough to witness the change of Government. Although regulations of e-hailing were implemented, there are still issues facing between both stakeholders. Since then, there were also many other e-hailing startups were developed. 

Even before we solve the issues between taxi drivers and Grab, the Government decided to bring in another. There were many questions that came into my mind when the news broke out.

Just last week, our Youth and Sports Minister, Syed Saddiq was so proud to announce that GoJek from Indonesia will be coming to operate in Malaysia. Very similar to Grab, but instead of cars, GoJek’s provides ride-hailing services using motorcycles.

Before we go into local startups, competition and the transportation system of our country, we should look back at what the current Transport Minister has mentioned last year.

In September last year, Anthony Loke as the Transport Minister said, “The Ministry maintains its stance against motorcycle ride-hailing services mainly for safety reasons. In Malaysia, there are too many accidents involving bikes that we just can’t take the risk.”

That is when Dego Ride, a local motorcycle ride-hailing startup was banned in Malaysia. Less than a year after that, the idea was booted back again, and it wasn’t Dego Ride who gets to ride at it.

As we all know, the safety of riding a motorcycle in Malaysia has always been a concern. The high number of accidents involving motorcycles, and the issues of Mat Rempit has to be of concern before we even consider such services. According to a research of Global Status Report on Road Safety, Malaysia has the third highest fatality rate from road traffic accidents. More than half of the road traffic deaths are motorcyclists. How many more are we expecting if the number of bike trips increases with the ride-hailing services?

Even if assuming that the traffic safety has improved, aren’t we supposed to first support our local players before bringing in the big regional companies? Before Dego Ride was banned by the Government, it has already build a foundation to begin with. Why don’t the Government create flexibility and encourage investors to fund this local startup instead? Bring back the local startup before we get in big players such as GoJek.

Syed Saddiq has always proudly claims that he supports the growth of Industrial Revolution 4.0 in Malaysia. He even tweeted that he wants the world to know that the Malaysian Government is committed in preparing Malaysia for the future when he was about to speak in the World Economic Forum.

So what does he mean by preparing Malaysia for the future? By bringing in other country’s startups to Malaysia? Or by just focusing on e-sports and playing games? We should be confident of our own local talents. If they are not good enough, provide them with platforms to learn and develop their skills. Our country has a good existing platform to assist in building startups such as the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre. 

The Youth and Sports Minister even supported his case of bringing in GoJek which will help create jobs for the local youth in Malaysia. So much so of his ideas of developing bright talents in the country. I wonder does he mean bright talents in riding bikes then?

It does not solve the underlying problems of the youth. Why do we need to create this kind of job opportunities at the first place? Are we encouraging the youth just to earn an income by being bikers? Are our youth not competitive enough to face the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and the corporate world? Or are we not generating enough jobs?

What has the Government done for the youth to embrace the Industrial Revolution 4.0? We have been raising about all the wrong issues recently and we forgot about the important ones. Khat, Zakir Naik and questioning’s people’s loyalty towards the nation wouldn’t help that. 

Knowing the social issues of Mat Rempit that Malaysia sees, are we ready to ride with a Mat Rempit?

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 27th August 2019.Mat Rempit to GoJek?

Are children encouraged to protest?

Children are often perceived as our precious jewels of our future. Too precious that we shield them away from the realities of life.

Realities as in what is really happening in the world of adult life. The controversies, the politics and the problems that adults might have caused that might destroy their future.

Perhaps, adults feel that children is too young to understand what is happening in the world of adult. Or perhaps that they are innocent that they see the root cause of the problems too easily.

When children appears and participates in protest, certain groups will criticise that these people are misusing children in activism. That happens last week when a MBPP councillor criticised NGOs for getting children to participate in the advocacy against climate change.

That brings up the question, are children allowed to protest? If yes, what is considered a right cause for children to participate in activism? If environment and climate change is about the future of the kids, aren’t they allowed to protest?

Which is right for kids to protest, and which is not?

I grew up in an environment where I was taught to study well in school, make a good career and have a great family. I believe most of my generations do grew up that way as well.

Not to say that the environment that I grew up is incorrect or bad, but I believe it is lacking the lessons about the society and community.

Doing well in our education is mostly about ourselves, but lessons on the society is about the community as a whole. It is not only caring and developing ourselves, but the world that we live in.

Looking thoroughly, does our education system prepare ourselves to be adults? Malaysia is now debating and preparing the reduction of voting age to 18 years old. We might be prepared technically, afterall, it is just amending the voter list to more voters. But are the 18 year olds prepare in terms of understanding of the governance and political system.

It is of utmost importance when we are dealing with the problems of environment and climate change. Aren’t we supposed to have the mentality whereby the earlier a child understands about it, the easier we can prevent actions that destructs the environment.

Imagine, everything that a children would love to have, from toys to drinks to gadgets, things that they use might heavily affects the environment. Single-use plastics in foods and beverages, toys that were made using unsustainable products, simple actions that might pollute the environment. If the children understands the cause of the destruction of our earth, it would be easier for them to cultivate habits that prevents it.

We just look at the many children of the world who are well-informed. They can be nurtured and taught to be great leaders of the future.

Greta Thunberg, at age 15, begin protesting outside the Swedish parliament about the need for immediate action to combat climate change.

Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, spoke about the urgency of immediate action against climate change at the United Nations General Assembly at age 15. He said, “What’s at stake right now is the existence of my generation.”

At 11 years old, Mari Copeny is helping kids to embrace their power through equal opportunity. She said, “I’m 11. My generation will fix this mess of a government. Watch us.”

Teenager Sonita Alizadeh is an Afghan activist who has been vocal against forced and child marriages.

Melati and Isabel Wijsen has been campaigning against the usage of single-use plastics at the age of 10 and 12 respectively.

Many other children and teenagers like Jamie Margolin, Shawn DeAngelo, Asean Johnson, Katie Eder and a lot more has played an important role in the respective activism towards the betterment of our world.

These kids has put many adults to shame. Simply said, they are merely speaking for what they know, and what they love.

If we look into adults, many many doesn’t even understand what they have fought for, or they dont even bother to know.

Reverting back to the MBPP councillor that has criticised the actions of children participating in the protest, she must not forgot the current government leaders are the ones that was part of the Bersih protest who brought kids along.

They were also the ones who had kids in programmes that promotes Penang Transport Master Plan.

Instead of speaking against children, they should teach kids to walk their talk. And be fair towards their words.

As a matter of fact, kids already has access towards the many issues of the world through the powers of internet and social media. According to research, kids have been spending more than four hours a day looking at screens. We have already lost the ability to keep the anything away from them. Worst is, the internet is flooded of negativity and fake information. Instead of shielding it away from them, we educate them the truth.

Keeping activism out of children’s reach does not protect them. It shortchanges them, by underpreparing them for life.

If we want our children to grow up to be thoughtful and engaged citizens, we should help them be part of social change now.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 4th June 2019.

Eighteen Good Enough to Vote?

Just recently, the Cabinet has agreed in lowering Malaysians’ voting age from 21 to 18. The nest step would be for the Minister to table it up in the Parliament whereby the Parliamentarians will debate and decide whether it should be lowered or not.

I welcome and agree to the fact that this has been a long-awaited decision. Many nations’ 18 years old has been given the rights to vote since a long time ago, and that left only a few countries with people above 18 years old to be eligible as voters, which includes Malaysia currently.

18 years old means a lot to all of us. It is the age where we are technically considered matured. The eligibility to drive a car, to own a house, starting a business, getting married. If 18 year-olds are considered matured for all those, why aren’t voting as well?

Allowing 18-year olds to vote means more voters which signifies the relevance of democracy. The results of an election will be more relevant and inclusive with the add-ons, provided that the turnout is high.

But even before we proceed to approve the decision, I think tabling the motion of lowering the voting age must come together in solving a few related issues. We must not only consider the technical part of voting, which is the age limit.

If we do not improve or change our political culture and behaviour, amending the limit of voting age that does not make any difference.

Age is only the technical part. Somehow, the Government and the society plays an important role to develop the teenager’s mind prior to voting, so that they could make wise decision, especially towards issues as important as choosing a leader and government of a country.

Neil deGrasse Tyson once gave a great speech on the value of knowing how to think is far more important than just knowing what to think. Sadly, our education system only teach us the latter. We were mostly taught to cram as many facts into our head as we can, only to spit out on a piece of paper, then forget about them.

Instead of just remembering the facts, it is more important that we learn how to navigate the modern sea of information, how do we filter out the important, and how to determine what’s downright false.

This is what is happening in our political arena these days, the people were fed with too much information, which many were false or incorrect news. And therefore, they make mistakes by believing in those news. It is hard to blame them, as the algorithm of the internet does not filter whether a news is correct or not. Many does not justify whether a news is true or not by its content, the truth today is justified by the top results of the Google.

When we talk about the top results on social media justifies the truth of an issue, the same goes to what is considered important to many individuals.

It is a sad thing when we take a certain movement in the wrong meaning. Take patriotism for example. I don’t consider myself overly-patriotic, but I do love my country, I love myself for being a Malaysian. I may be of Chinese descent, but I am born a Malaysian, and therefore proud to be one. The problem with patriotism is when it morphs into chauvinistic ultra-nationalism. We have to admit that there are such signs, and if we are not careful, it will cause us more damage than development.

Instead of believing that one’s nation is unique, one starts to believe that his or her nation is supreme. That is worst when it comes to races.

When we are too focused on nationalism, we tend to forget of what is more important. Issues like climate change and environment is not attractive to nationalists, we rarely see nationalists advocates of such issues. When there is no national agenda, but only a global agenda to such issues, some nationalist politicians prefer to believe the problem does not exist.

We can always do whatever to prove that one nation or race is supreme than the other. But when climate change and natural disaster strikes, it doesn’t differentiate which nation or race you are from, it affects everyone.

And what is causing many to divert away from what is important? The modernisation of technology and branding is causing more confusion than ever. And that is why we need to educate our young generation to develop them to know how to think and decide for the government.

We are using technology the wrong way. It is easier than ever to talk to our friends who are staying thousand of miles away using the internet; but it is harder to talk to our loved ones over a dinner because we are constantly looking at our smartphone instead of them. Instead of analyzing the information that we derive from the internet, we rely on the internet algorithm to decide what is the truth and the important.

When we think about a famous soft drink, you probably imagine young people, having fun, playing sports and living a cool life. You probably don’t think about the overweight diabetes patients lying in hospital beds. Similarly in the general elections, we were given beautiful and sweet promises, but many never thought of going into details and the practicality of each promises.

The young generations, and in fact, most of the population are heavily influenced by technology and branding. We do not want ourselves to be influenced the wrong way in making decisions such as the government. Hence, it is critical to develop political awareness, maturity and the ability to think and analyze, so that we choose the best for our nation.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 9th April 2019.

An invitation to a political revolution

51 years ago, a movement were formed by a group of visionary leaders. Their vision is so ahead of their time and so far-sighted that it is still relevant as of today. And the movement that they have formed has evolved into a political party, Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia.

March 24, this year, is the day the party begin our 51st year in Malaysia. It is a new beginning for myself and the party members as we strive for a new direction.

March 24 is not a day for us to remember how great was Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia in the past.

It is the day where we commemorate and remember what we have fought for and will fight for.

Let us not make the 51st just another year that passes by. But let us begin with a progressive campaign that workds for the people, nation and of course Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia.

Brothers and sisters,

Today, I want to invite you to a campaign that is not about greed, hatred and lies. The campaign is not about racism, sexism, or religious bigotry. We need to end this negative politics. We should be advocating for a better economy, good governance and a better place to live in. We need more positivity than ever.

I am not asking for the you to change or rebel against the current government. I am asking for us to revolutionise our political culture and mindset.

We need a political culture and system that is based on economic justice, social justice, environmental justice, racial justice and positivity.

Today, we fight for the rights of all Malaysians and people living in this country. Rights to a job and shelter and freedom from starvation and illiteracy. There are still people who does not have access to fair employment, homes, food and education. Haven’t we heard that we aren’t paid enough to live in a place with a high cost of living? Is our nation building enough affordable homes for the people? How many young families now affords to purchase their own homes?

Today, we advocate for the freedom to realise one’s potential. To ensure productivity and increasing economic competitiveness, we need an ecosystem that allows the people democratic rights to develop and realise their potential to the fullest.

Today, we have to ensure that we are living in a just and equal society. A society that there is no discrimination of whichever, be it racial, religious, economic or social status. We have to ensure that the fruits of development must be shared equally among the people; and not only the rich. We need to ensure that there is equal access by all to opportunities generated by the market.

Today, we have to pursue for the protection of the environment and sustainable development. We have suffered landslides, floods, pollution that has caused health issues and deaths. Many of these disasters are caused by over and unsustainable development.

Today, we fight for the equality of all gender. We have to believe that all gender has the equal rights and ability to strive in the community. No individual should be denied of any job opportunity due to their gender. No individual shall receive a lower pay because of their gender. And no one should be discriminated based on their sexual orientation.

Today, we advocate for cultural integration where all races respect each other. In an era where the issue of race and religion is still sensitive no matter where we are in the world, we have to respect all races and religion. Not a single community should be stereotyped or discriminated based on their skin colour or religious beliefs.

Today, we ultimately must fight for political stability and a positive political culture. Our political culture has been too negative. There is too much political attacks, character assassination and even physical attacks.

Brothers and sisters, this is not a struggle to win any election or to topple anyone. Today, we need to pursue for a political revolution. A revolution that advocates for the betterment of our nation and rakyat through a new political culture.  

There is a huge task and gargantuan work in front of us. We must not let irresponsible politicians divide and divert us. This revolution needs every to put their hands together for a better future for ourselves.

This should be the spirit of March 24, this should be the spirit of striving for positive politics. And I invite you to join me in this journey. Let’s make it happen.

So what are we voting for?

The by-elections seems not stopping in Malaysia. In just less than a year, we will be having six by-elections in the country.

After Balakong, Seri Setia, Sungai Kandis, Port Dickson, we are now entering Cameron Highlands this week and soon, Semenyih.

As we experience through these periods, I always ponder, how does people actually vote during the elections, whether it is the general election or by-election. What are the people voting for actually?

Do the people vote for a political party because of their ideology and their stands on various current issues?

Do we vote for the ability of an elected representative that speak our voices in the right platforms?

Do the people vote for the manifestos and promises made in the elections?

Or does the people simply vote for one party because of their hatred and disappointment towards another party?

Nevertheless, I believe the manifesto of Pakatan Harapan and the disappointment towards Barisan Nasional has contributed the most towards the results of the 2018 general elections.

The change of the government has made Malaysians so hopeful towards the ‘Malaysia Baru’.

As the Cameron Highlands by-election is currently going on and soon to happen in Semenyih, I think it is a good time to revisit the winning choice of Malaysians in general.

Throughout the period since May 2018, there are contradictory statements, u-turns or simply implementing the same policies as the previous administration, but just a change of name.

The National Higher Education Fund Corporation or better known as PTPTN has backed down from a promise to allow borrowers to only begin servicing their loans once their salary hits RM4,000.

Tolls were promised to be abolished but until today, only the toll collection for motorcyclist that passes by both the bridges in Penang is abolished. Before we forget, the Sungai Nyior toll in Penang is still operating since the Pakatan took over in 2008.

When the Prime Minister Dr Mahathir gave his debate speech in the 73rd United Nations General Assembly, he mentioned in his speech that, “…It is within this context that the new government of Malaysia has pledged to ratify all remaining core UN instruments related to the protection of human rights.” As we know it later, the new government of Malaysia decided not to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), which is a one of the human rights instrument of the United Nations.

The Prime Minister who is a fan of national cars proposed for a 3rd national car project. Well, he stated that the private sector has to implement and fund it as Putrajaya does not have the ability to do so. But then in the early January, the Entrepreneur Development Minister Mohd Redzuan Yusof announced a RM20 million fund by his ministry to research the 3rd national car project.

Remember how Pakatan Harapan has criticised cash handouts including Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) has the elements of political bribery to the people? It seems like a little change of the name and the categories has changed cash handouts to be helpful for the people’s livelihood. It is now known to help ease the people’s cost of living.

Same goes to how the DAP has always criticised Biro Tatanegara (BTN) of its role of inciting racism, disunity, bigotry and intolerance. It was then indeed abolished in August 2018, but in October 2018, the Youth and Sports Minister that a new programme will replace the BTN.

The people have voted against cronyism, nepotism and corruption in the GE, but in the Bersatu’s AGM last year, its Vice President Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman suggested that the party should use its position as the government of the day to channel resources and projects to division chiefs so that it could win elections “by hook or by crook”.

Looking at the happenings in less than a year, we should really think twice and think again of the elected representatives that we have chosen. It is not about the political party, but whether does that individual have the ability to build the nation. If every Malaysian votes for a capable person regardless of the political background, despite who wins, we will end up with both a good government and a good opposition. I still think that is the best way to vote for.

When Malaysians are hoping for positive changes in the country, when Malaysians are giving hopes to a ‘New Malaysia’; it seems like all they got is the same old Malaysia.