OUTSPOKEN: We are living in a very sick country. Yes, definitely so. We are witnessing what is happening now and what has taken place since the British handed independence to this country. After more than half a century, the country, instead of moving forward into a bright future, has regressed into darkness and uncertainty.
There are no visible signs of a united Malaysian nation and there will not be one in the foreseeable future. The British colonial regime had divided and compartmentalised the people into various economic streams, each stream inhabited by one ethnic community. This was the classic colonial strategy of divide and rule.
The British even encouraged the formation of ethnic political parties so as to enhance this ethnic divide. They helped in the growth of these parties by banning all other racially integrated political parties.
The British were masters at this divide-and-rule game. All over the world where the British had established their colonial power, they had left a legacy of ethnic confrontation behind, be it in Asia, Africa or the Middle East.
Thus in Malaya in 1957, when the political freedom of the country was entrusted to a shaky group of ethnic parties purportedly to present and bring together the three major ethnic groups in the country, the dye for racial polarisation was duly cast. The British knew that by doing so, the country would forever be dependent on outside help.
Indonesia for whatever it is now had forged a united Indonesian nation and so had the Philippines. Indonesia was colonised by the Dutch, and the Philippines by the Spanish and the Americans.
As in all newly independent countries, the beginnings were very promising as was the case of Malaya. But the honeymoon period did not last very long.
A new breed of ambitious, self-centred, power crazy and wealth-seeking leaders soon took over the reins from the founding fathers. Thus the divide was made more entrenched for the sake of achieving and maintaining power and raping the country’s wealth. The people endured maladministration and the divide-and-rule policy created racial suspicion.
Malaya in the 60s was touted as being a potential economic tiger just like South Korea. While South Korea had taken off economically and technologically, Malaya and now Malaysia had plunged into a bottomless abyss of low productivity in the field of science and technology, social and economic integration.
Currently, the country is facing a serious ethnic and religious divide. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has not made any attempts to arrest this rapidly deteriorating situation. Comments and actions by extremist groups are worsening the dissension and will seriously fracture the already fragile bonds if no efforts are made to halt this.
Where there was no issue before, like use of the word Allah, issues had been created by the government. To all intents and purposes, this can be construed as giving cue to the extremists to exploit the situation to create more confusion.
The mushrooming of extremist and dangerous elements, which is to the detriment of the people, had not been nipped in the bud but is being conveniently ignored, thus giving wide latitude to these groups to rear their ugly head and attempt to destroy the country.
Attempts by the opposition to arrest this situation were given the thumbs down. Instead more of his ministers exhibited arrogance towards all these efforts. Their behaviour is indicative of immaturity and lack of ethics and finesse. Possibly, they may be suffering from some kind of inferiority complex. Being haughty is not part of a culture of those entrusted with power.
Malaysia is now facing a cancerous situation in terms of nation building and the future well-being of its up-and-coming generation. It has already lost a considerable number of talented and productive manpower which it seriously needs for development of the country.
He has allowed religious extremism to flourish. Friday sermons in the mosques have become more anti-national in character and no attempts have been made to check the spread of this worrying trend.
The country simply cannot afford to have a prime minister whose attitude is lackadaisical towards all the innumerable problems faced by the people. If he persists with this kind of temperament it only proves that he is not fit to steer the country out of this predicament.
My former history professor, Professor Northcote Parkinson, the noted Raffles Professor of History at the newly established University of Malaya in Singapore in the 50s and author of 60 books, jokingly implied that the country would see a better future if the British were to cut the peninsula into two and let the Muslims be on one side with the others on the other half.
I did not laugh at this “bizarre” joke but there it was. He could foresee what was likely to happen.
Ahmad Mustapha Hassan is a former press secretary to second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and the writer of the book, "The Unmaking of Malaysia".
~ The Ant Daily