Three major challenges for the new Malaysia in the coming year

Photograph: Penang Hills Watch

Here we are in 2019. We made it through a tumultuous 2018 and major regime change.

We have much to celebrate, having made a major leap forward. Many of us have a newfound sense of pride of being Malaysian and at having achieved regime change so peacefully.

But before us lie three major challenges we will have to come to grips with in the coming year.

1. Towards a more inclusive culture, a change in our value system

Last year, we witnessed regime change. But that political change must be accompanied by a change in our value system if we are to achieve lasting change.

We need to move away from a divisive culture based on race and religion to a move inclusive culture that celebrates our rich diversity. That diversity should be our strength, not a weakness.

The rally to oppose the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the attack on the Seafield temple and ensuing violence remind us there is still much work to do.

In the long run, we need to nurture the noble values found in all our spiritual faiths – compassion, justice, love, mercy, forgiveness, honesty and abhorrence of corruption. This has to be inculcated in the young beginning in our homes, our schools and religious classes. There is no short cut.

Abhorrence of corruption must be inculcated in both the public and private sector. If there is one thing that 1MDB taught us, it is that corruption is not limited to the public sector. Corruption thrives on greed and is enabled by a lack of ethics and transparency. So we really need to reflect on our own personal and social values.

2. Heeding the Cry of the Poor and the Cry of the Earth

We have to do all we can to uplift the lives of the bottom 40% of the population and even the middle 40%, many of whom are struggling to cope with the cost of living in the face of fairly stagnant real wages.

That means we need to empower all women, men and children to realise their full potential. For that, the education system, along with teacher training, needs to be revamped to empower the youth and promote a more inclusive and thinking society.

We not only have to clear government debt and create jobs – but the real challenge is how to ensure development that is in harmony with the environment. So we need to be more discerning with the type of investments we encourage. For example, do we destroy the environment to build even more expensive homes that few can afford to buy?

Indeed, we have to do out bit to stave off climate change: for this, we need to maintain the ecological balance, protect our forests and seas and hills. Let us examine our own carbon footprint, our own levels of consumption and materialism. Do we really need all that stuff we covet, which only provides fleeting gratification?

So let’s heed both the Cry of the Poor and the Cry of the Earth.

3. Promoting community solidarity

One of the unfortunate effects of corporate-led global capitalism is the trend towards self-centredness and individualism at the expense of community solidarity.

We live in an increasingly divided world – not only separated by the walls of ethnicity and religion but by socio-economic barriers. Thus we have international or private schools for the rich and government schools for the rest. We can see a similar demarcation between well-equipped private hospitals and underfunded and overcrowded government hospitals. The government hospitals, financed by just 2% of GDP, have to serve the majority of the people with fewer specialists than those employed in private hospitals.

Even our residential areas are divided. Guardhouses and gated communities separate the upper-middle class from their lower-income counterparts. Meanwhile, the migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers live hidden from our view. Numbering perhaps six million (including those undocumented), they make up almost a fifth of our population – but most of us would not be aware of their struggles seeing how they are largely denied meaningful media coverage.

So how do we bridge these gaps? How to create a more ecologically sustainable, inclusive and honest Malaysia?

That is the challenge we have to grapple with and work towards in the coming year if we want to realise the full promise of the new Malaysia.

This article was first published in Herald Weekly.

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Don Anamalai
Don Anamalai
15 Jan 2019 1.19pm

Very inspired by the lighted King Cross of Jelutong!

18 Jan 2019 9.06am

Malaysia authorities ordered a coffee factory in Penang to temporarily close on Thursday (Jan 17) after rat droppings were found on its premises.

The factory would be closed for 14 days except for cleaning work. The company which had been operating the factory for the last 69 years, was not named, but local reports said the coffee brand was well known.


Ma jiji
Ma jiji
15 Jan 2019 3.24pm

Oh, three major challenges ? Oh yes, No money, No money, No money !

V Ramesh
V Ramesh
16 Jan 2019 10.41am
Reply to  Ma jiji

For me, 3 challenges are 1. Too many cars on the road (congestion) 2. Too much Carbon fumes and heat from car emissions 3. Too much traffic noise.

So must have resolve to reduce car population!

15 Jan 2019 9.45am

Anil, you can email this article to CM Sin Chow. He’s now too busy tangoing with greedy developers to get that controversial dangerous Bukit Kukus paired road project to proceed immediately after a stop work order (he hopes to get lifted). In this New Malaysia era, almost everything is money talk without which life comes to a standstill. Even in Pakatan Harapan, we see Bersatu asking for ‘kangtao’. No thanks to a widening divide between the rich & poor+middle class. No thanks to a weakening Ringgit. And no thanks to a national debt brought about by Najib & Gang of… Read more »

15 Jan 2019 1.57pm
Reply to  tunglang

you should give a nod of approval for “shrinking purchasing power”, less money, less materialistic pursuits, better for mother earth… that not you wish for ? … ? …hehe

21 Jan 2019 12.33am
Reply to  tunglang

Why can’t you email it? No need to drive, but take bus. Just press send and blink of eye, oredi in his mail box.

21 Jan 2019 10.16pm
Reply to  tunglang

U know 28 flr very well. You can prove to m, but 28 flr is very good enough to see everything. Tell cm no need 50 flr

14 Jan 2019 6.24pm

Its about time Anil to appear on Astro Awani english talk show Sharad Kuttan to share hus valuable inputs on Penang affairs.

15 Jan 2019 9.56am
Reply to  Roland

nah….back door complain to UNESCO makes bigger impact..they have done it once, no harm trying for second time……hehe

14 Jan 2019 2.25pm

The time is approaching when the oceans can no longer buffer the CO2 and direct heat, and the deposits of CH4 (methane or natural gas) on ocean beds, the continental shelves and the tundra erupt on a large scale. Even the extra water in the oceans may be increasing earthquakes and tsunamis, though scientists have not confirmed this. In our hubris, we think the Earth is crying, we are saving the Earth, etc. It needs no help. The biosphere is reacting and adapting to every human change, stupid or otherwise, partly through microbes, plants and animals. Incontroverible evidence shows that… Read more »