MARCH 1 — There is a disease afflicting Malaysians. I want to destroy it. It is insidious and often the sole weapon used by those in power to douse the spirit of rebellion.
I don’t know how to characterise it, but it usually begins with victims saying the lines “maybe not in my lifetime, but soon.”
Why not in your lifetime? It is your life right, as much as anyone can dismiss your ideas, beliefs and efforts, this is as much your life as any life is to another.
Why shouldn’t things happen in your lifetime?
I’ll tell you the good news first. There are fewer and fewer people around us now discounting change anymore. There is a surge of confidence going around.
But it can easily be jettisoned by the small group of people I refer to as the immovable 10 per cent. I wrote about them almost two years ago, and my gut feeling right now is that they are ripe for the picking.
But now, with the developments I see, our national mindset has shifted enough that those beyond reach have now come to listen.
The 10 per cent again
Who are these new listeners?
I characterised this group — people who I now believe are willing to contemplate change — as people who were never ideologically in support of the government of the day, but give their support to Barisan Nasional (BN) reluctantly.
In fact they are quite pissed-off with BN. They’ve been pissed-off for quite a while now.
However, they have been raised to appreciate what they have and, more importantly, not to underplay that which they have. A shift they are inclined to think might make things worse, therefore they’ll take their chances with the devil they know. The devil has let them be, even if he takes his pound of flesh sometimes.
They feel that things will be better for their children, therefore it is OK to accept the situation.
This must go. This willingness to accept a bad deal because there are worse deals. This has to be destroyed.
Two years now
If Malaysia was reduced to a marathon analogy, we are the runner halfway through the race and fatigue has made us forget where the stadium is but since we have been running for so long we’ll keep at it, hoping rather than certain of reaching a stadium, any stadium let alone the intended stadium.
Has it not been a drone of things will get better?
All the energy expended by the Najib administration has not resulted in real structural change.
More democratic rights, better economic access for all and less government, to produce a more progressive Malaysia.
In the two years since, the region has changed. Myanmar wants free elections.
The world has changed, with regime changes in places unimaginable only a year ago.
So my confidence grows.
I have started to ask people, that if this is indeed a major turning point in the history of this country, and you are a living adult in this period, won’t people in the future and those out of this country ask you, what did you do?
What did you do at this special time, this opportunity to bring this country closer to the heartbeat of the world, rather than remaining as a defeatist nation justifying its malaise?
Talk about the promise, not the decay
If you too want to destroy this illness then use the right weapon.
We have to stop ourselves from appearing like drunks in a large tavern where everyone takes turn moaning about how lacklustre the nation is.
It is true, there are many things wrong in the country, but that does not reduce the fact this is an exceptional country.
Of course you know that too, that is why you are here. That is why Malaysians abroad are fighting to vote, when they can afford to forget home. Why many good men and women have struggled long and hard for inches of liberty.
But we cannot be a brooding nation, a collection of people always pointing to how badly things have gone. I am not asking for us to avoid or even ignore our failures, I am asking that those facts don’t crowd the space left for us to carve a future.
The conversation must now move to what the new future holds. It has to be imbued with optimism not ruing the past.
That is how the final hurdle be surmounted by persuading the immovable 10 per cent.
They are tired of hearing how bad things are, they want to know how great things will be. They know who is holding them back, they need to know who will cheer them to greater heights.
They want to hope, what you can do is to tell them they are not alone.
Because we all have our date with destiny. Our time is arriving. For those already convinced of change, and those starting to believe in change. You don’t have to do much. You just have to stand up and be counted.
The rest of the story is going surprise you.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.