[EXCLUSIVE] What Communities Need To Do To Survive

Rekindle Spirit of Merdeka
Pic: NST

In the last twelve months, international traveling for Malaysians came to a standstill. Airlines were not allowed to fly, borders were closed and Malaysians were asked to stay at home. Businesses were asked to close, open, close and now opened again. Every instruction were given as SOP’s and citizens have to follow diligently or we will be penalized with a summon or fine. There is absolutely nothing we can do except to obey and assist our government to fight the pandemic.

In the meantime China is practically COVID free but fighting a different battle. Battered in a trade war by past President Trump of USA, China now faces additional sanctions by current President Biden who now ropes in its allies like United Kingdom, Canada and Australia to put pressure on China on the issues of ‘human rights’ in China and democracy in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

China went on the offensive against the western media and the American government by asking for prove or evidence of human rights abuses happening in Xinjiang and recently invited many Ambassadors to visit the hot spot to see for themselves. What is really apparent is that the Chinese government has more than 90% popular support from its 1.4 billion citizens who are happy and feeling optimistic of their economic future.

We have a Chinese communist party who runs China like a socialist state in terms of welfare and national development but allows a capitalist economy to flourish. This must be the strangest combination of strategies to run a country but funnily this communist-socialist- capitalist model seems to work well for China. Besides lifting 800 million people out of poverty, China has the most advanced infrastructure/ transportation systemin the world. Besides having the biggest middle class population in the world, it is the only country that still grew its GDP last year.

And the joke is there is nothing USA can do about it except to harp on human rights values and insisting democracy is the only way to run a country when they themselves faced challenging issues at home on human rights, racism and attack on democracy itself by their own citizens. USA has lost much credibility as the self imposed democratic superpower that can decide who, why, and how they want to dictate the world order.

Now that reality is slowly becoming more evident, USA is domestically going on a reset by investing in their infrastructure and re focusing on their technological competitiveness and innovations. Perhaps USA must prepare the right mindset of being the second biggest economy in the world. Numbers don’t lie and truth sometimes hurt the ego.

Perhaps USA should stop interfering with other countries’ internal affairs. Harping on how China treat their minority people especially in the deradicalization of the Uighurs when they have their own domestic terrorism. Harping on how China treat Hong Kong rioters when they themselves can’t handle local rioters back home. It is just like a parent teaching other parents about preventing their children from becoming hooligans when his own son has been arrested for stealing and causing public mischief.

Every country has its own unique characteristics but the elected government (non military junta) is almost always controlled by the majority race of the population. The one person one vote system ensures that the main leader of the majority race almost always become the head of the government but there are exceptions like Barack Obama some twelve years ago.

In Malaysia, our biggest parties are race and religion based since independence so naturally the biggest party UMNO has been ruling a coalition government from independence in 1957 until 2018. It is not surprising then that Malay parties will always rule the country as Malay Muslims consist of 65% of our general population. Except for Sarawak, Sabah and Penang where the population skewed towards indigenous and minority race, we will see a Malay state government for the rest of the country. So politics by race is perpetuated by leaders who aspire to be national leaders.

This is how a democratic country selects its leaders and there is absolutely nothing the minority citizens can do about it. What differs in all countries will be the way the majority government treats the minority citizen in their country. Does every citizen have equal rights and a place in the sun in his home country?

As a Malaysian Chinese born in this country, I feel blessed that I have many friends of all races and I have my place in the sun in this beautiful country. I have never desired to migrate to other countries and I will be buried in this country when it is time for me to depart. But I do worry for my children and my grandchildren going forward as Malaysia is becoming more polarized by race and religion. And there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.

As for the Chinese community in Malaysia, I believe that by functioning as a close knit community, we can overcome many obstacles together. We should continue to provide affordable high quality education to our children from primary to pre university. With the shrinking quota for public university, more scholarships and education loans should be made available for students to further their studies in private universities.

Needless to say our community associations should step up to look after the poor and the needy. Business leaders must also step up to look after micro and SME businesses by giving a helping hand. Intra community economic support will be vital to keep small businesses afloat and provide jobs. Our children must be taught to be resilient, resourceful and to work hard for their families and to support our community.

In these modern times, perhaps a community super app in Mandarin and English should be created to achieve all the above aspirations. A super app that directs scholarships and loans to students, creates job opportunities in local communities, creates business opportunities for micro and SME companies and most important of all to build a close knit community that can withstand economic hardships together.

Can we do something about this? I believe we can and we should if we want our children and grandchildren to have their place in the sun.

*Views expressed here are the writer’s own.