Make Malaysia beautiful again

On this rainy day here in Japan, I sit back to reflect on the happenings back in Malaysia, my home country. Today is May 13 2018. On this day in 1969, a racial riot broke out, pitting the two major races of Malays and Chinese against each other. I was 11 eleven years old, and fortunately, for our family living in the northern rural state of Kedah, the riots did not affect us in any substantial manner. Up to this day, the Malaysian government has not had the courage to declassify the details of the killings that transpired on that day.

Many writers have suggested that the principal instigators were people from UMNO, the major political party then. This tragedy plunged the nation into emergency rule, and consequently, the introduction of wide-ranging policies that were racially lopsided to the so-called Bumiputra segment of the population. This political party rode on the support of the rural population (predominantly Malays) to rule Malaysia for six decades, uninterrupted.

I am turning 60 on my next birthday, and I had never dreamed that I could see such a day in my lifetime. In the 14th General Election on May 9 2018, Malaysians came together to send a clear message by voting out this political party along with its other racially based political partners in the Barisan Nasional coalition.

For too long, Malaysians had tolerated their corruptible antics in enriching themselves, their authoritarian manner in stifling criticism, and for too long, they had played the racial sentiments of the citizens to hold on to and prolong their power. Their hold on power depended on their claim to protect and to fight for the benefit of the Bumiputra segment of the population. In return, the Bumiputra population voted them back to power for every election. Until 9 May 2018.

Like many of my fellow citizens, I am much appreciative to the many (opposition) politicians who fought extremely hard to win this battle. The folks from DAP, PKR, Amanah, and Bersatu who form the Pakatan Harapan coalition have my deepest respect in this regard.

Of these people, Dr. Mahathir deserves special mention. I went to the same secondary school as he did in Alor Setar, Kedah. However, like many of my fellow citizens, I am not so much of a fan of his. I have personally met him only once, years ago, when he came to receive his Honorary Doctorate degree from Waseda University, Japan. I greeted him and asked if I could take a picture with him. He nodded.

He is the individual who largely put Malaysia into the current mess. He was Prime Minister for over 2 decades of that 60-year rule. He did some good things for the Malaysian economy, but many writers would argue that he was just fortunate to be prime minister during a time when Malaysia was flushed with money. However, he entrenched money politics through a system of political patronage. He ruled with an iron fist by installing repressive laws. He encouraged the Islamization of the country and made use of racial politics to divide and rule. He undermined the independence of the courts to his favor. And more.

Still, like many citizens, we rooted for him this time. We believed he is a changed man, and is determined to correct his past mistakes. Now that we have kicked out the corrupt regime, we look forward to and expect him and the new government to put Malaysia back on the right path.

My personal view is that, this government will perform. This government gives us hope for a better Malaysia. I say, we would want them to make Malaysia a beautiful nation again. And if they ever fall into the horrible ways of the previous regime, I am sure Malaysians will not think twice to exercise their newfound power to vote them out. I believe Malaysians are no longer in the mood for monkey tricks by politicians.

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