From time to time, I check into The Malaysian Insider and LoyarBurok (yyeeaahh!) to catch up on what’s happening on the forefront of governance.
Then I read articles on Perkasa, MCA and Malay unity/disunity, PKR defections and internal revolts, etc.
This is quickly followed by me leaving my seat, going out to the balcony, and seething over what I’ve just read.
My husband tells me I’m in too deep. I’m paranoid. Life is still good and we should look at the positive side of things sometimes.
My answer to that is, that’s how things go from “ok” to “bad”. We live in this bubble thinking things will continue to be good without realising that it takes all of us to work at maintaining what’s good.
But no, human beings never think it is their responsibility to govern the country because “… that’s what we’re paying the government to do, ma”.
We never realise that we’re paying them to do a good job, because we never look at ourselves as the Boss. And by this token, we never realise it’s part of our responsibility to HELP the government govern.
Anyway, after reading about the state of affairs, I always find myself wracking my brains, thinking about what I can write, to share with those who harbour the same indignance about where this country is going, and also with those who aren’t fully aware.
There’s usually the frequent temptation to jump off that same balcony against this backdrop of dark hopelessness. But then, things happen that make me question whether all of this matters. And whether I’d just be wasting my life diving into an Aedes-infested drain.
Things like, well, a friend getting dengue fever twice in a few short months.
Like another friend’s 2 year old getting a pretty severe bout of H1N1 a week after yet another friend had recovered from the illness.
Like the security guards at our apartment who are paid peanuts, who get the nuts late and in their embarrassment – yet need for survival – come up borrowing a bit of cash for lunch.
Things that I decide, yes, matters.
Nuts and Malay rights
Sure, it’s ethically wrong for the guards to ask the residents for money. But I sure am not going to report them. These people are trying to make a living by putting their own safety on the line for a bunch of middle-class people living in high-rises. I don’t understand how they can be paid peanuts and the nuts cannot be delivered on time.
If my nuts arrived late and I’m supposed to defend the lives of others, I would probably fall asleep on the job from malnutrition. Or I’d just shoot off my gun and then say that the robbers were too fast for my food-deprived body. I supposed this might explain why our police force doesn’t seem very motivated to do their jobs properly either although they may try.
Does it matter that the police – just like security guards – are paid adequately so that should I get robbed, I would get a proper investigation and commitment to catch the culprit? I think it matters. Our safety is at stake here. So is our children’s safety.
My husband’s uncle is a dance lecturer at ASWARA. He tells us that his students – MALAYS (for the benefit of some quarters who get hypertension just opening their mouth to defend Malay rights) – can’t even afford to pay some of their tuition fees. Their parents are farmers or small traders who barely earn a household income of RM450-500 per month.
Does it matter that there’s so much clamouring for Malay rights when it looks like no amount of clamouring will help those who really need it?
It jolly well matters.
It also matters that some people can say the NEP was a success. If it helped just 50% of the 60% who form the majority of the population, is it still considered a success?
However, the popular opinion is that much less has benefited from it. Sabah and Sarawak alone are evidence that not many Bumiputera received Bumiputera aid. Unless of course, they’re not considered “real” Bumiputera by the same quarters.
(Let’s hope the NEM does a better job. But seeing as it segues into the 10MP, some oppositional forces in the two different plans might lead us back to square one.)
Everywhere around me, I see corruption manifested in some threatening way. Ways that threaten the livelihood and lives of hard-working, regular, Malaysians. I used to be a bit blind to this, thinking that, well, it’s the same in every country – just a matter of degree. But those countries are not my country so why should I compare? In fact, I used to not even consider using such strong words as “threatening”. But it’s the correct word. Let me put it this way for clarity.
Suppose corruption is such a bad but encouraged habit that it even happens where you live.
Someone in your condo management committee elected by the residents decides that he or she can get a cheaper pest control company to gas out those pesky mosquitoes twice a month. Same person does not tell you however that he/she’ll get a cut from hiring those gasbags. Company arrives with impressive looking equipment. You stand at your balcony, excited at the prospect of seeing some heavy-duty action against the squillions of mosquitoes that enjoy attacking kids and parents who want to enjoy the outdoors of their RM250-service-charges-per-month apartment.
The staff of the company, a grand total of two people, turn on their machine for 10 seconds during which they would manage to only point the pipe at a few bushes.
Does it matter that my service charges are going into a few farts of highly diluted repellant and my risks of contracting dengue fever remains high?
YES. IT. DOES.
I may be speaking from a middle-class point of view, hence the apartment/condo context. But things like cost of living, crime rate, controllable diseases cut across race and class.
So back to the whole thing about politics and governance, all the so-called sandiwara and drama.
Who cares if Chua Junior’s got his future in RM2 billion sorted?
Who cares if Mr. Ali thinks everyone is against him and our Malay brethren?
Who cares if P.I. Bala has fresh dirt on whoever paid him to make a mockery of the statutory declaration?
Who cares if the Number 12 bus never arrives on time and sometimes doesn’t turn up at all?
Or whether I’m learning my sine and cosine in English or BM?
This is our country. And everything that touches on our lives matters.
Because the federal and state governments’ responsibilities are to manage the rakyat‘s funds and welfare, it matters what the politicians and ministers and leaders are doing and saying, whether they are from the ruling coalition or the opposition.
It matters that our poorer brethren, Chinese, Malay or Indian, get the financial aid they need.
It matters that justice prevails, that nobody is above the law.
That corruption is dealt with. Fairness is upheld.
And that we have a say in the whole affair because all of this affects us.
Right down to that last mosquito.