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6:54pm 01/08/2022
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Our political pandemic: can we surpass this?
By:Ravindran Raman Kutty

A cool breeze, a fairly good cup of coffee with delicious thosai, entertainment by a group of tai-chi aunties moving rhythmically and in synchronized steps to the loud tempo of Michael Jackson’s songs – a most pleasing setting for a wonderful long-awaited breakfast session for Ben Kwok, Dr. Zul and yours truly.

Our meeting not only saw three friends getting together, but also represented a strong camaraderie of our three main ethnicities representing “masyarakat majmuk”; a bonding sense that has unconsciously lost its importance among the Malaysian rakyat today.

Ben Kwok, who had lived several years in the US before returning to Bandar Sri Damansara (BSD), is an exemplary citizen of our township. He was always the first to alert the then Residents Association (RA) of any mishaps or irregularities in our township.

He was inspired to arrange this meeting after my encounter with a Lalamove rider about a month ago. With that in mind, our discussion started off with Ben commenting on how Malaysia has laws but the enforcement of such laws is weak.

He cited on how drivers in the US behaved on the road in comparison to Malaysian road-users who have somehow overlooked road etiquette and courtesy when behind the wheel.

Our focus towards the level of corruption in our country. The contractor assigned to strengthen the gradient wall between our Kenanga and Margosa areas has been doing his job without carrying out any proper safety mitigation measures.

The drilling of the rock mass has resulted in noise and dust pollution among the homes located within a range of ten meters. The engineering team from Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MBPJ) should conduct regular inspections on the site to ensure that the contractor is responsible in abiding by safety guidelines and measures in the interest of the site workers and residents nearby, but that is a far cry.

This clearly lifted our doubt that regulations stated on paper by the Health Safety and Environmental department remained only on paper, but not put to practice.

Dr. Zul, another resident who had previously studied and worked in the US, commented on the current political climate and conditions that we Malaysians have been put into.

In his opinion, Malaysia needs a system to do a root cause analysis of issues and incidences that are happening rather than just treating them with the formation of committees that know not of where to start or end, let alone understand the critical level of the issues at hand.

As an example, Dr. Zul eluded the issue of the increase in food prices in the country.

Malaysia is slow in addressing the food security issue. Although the US and European countries are highly advanced in technology, science and research, they have not, do not, and will not ignore farming.

Malaysia, on the other hand, has gone the other way. We have been very quick in destroying our farmlands in our race to build as many skyscrapers as possible whilst ignoring the fact that we have overlooked and perhaps forgotten the very source of food and base of farming for our people.

In addition, the many incidences of floods in Johor, Kedah, Selangor and Pahang are a sad and gruesome reflection of our misdeeds in planning.

Ben was very appreciative of my role as the founder and first president of the BSDRA, where we resolved issues with various authorities, citing one instance where our housing area had been flooded with hauler trucks parked right in front of our RA office.

He applauded how we had managed to get the media to air our plight and rather long battle with the relevant authorities in our bid to finally get JPJ to remove these trucks from site.

He was also appreciative of the pertinent role that BSDRA played during my stewardship.

 Dr Zul added that the success and failure of every organisation depends on the leaders. He compared the situation of our RA with our nation.

He said leaders play a pivotal and critical role in projecting or dejecting an organisation or nation. If leaders have the right attitude, the right principles, passion and acumen, then they will succeed.

We are now comparing ourselves with Sri Lanka, an accepted statement, but never a comparison.

Malaysia has minerals, natural resources and oil; Sri Lanka is pale in comparison. However, it is extremely sad that our country, which was once known as the Asian Tiger, is now being compared to Sri Lanka.

I added that in many countries there is a group called the educated, philosophical and activist, who always comment on issues related to politics, corruption, environment and other areas which are either wrong or deemed to be so.

Malaysia needs young, energetic, educated and principled leaders to drive.

We are tired of these court jesters, party polishers, sexists, discriminants, narcists and Machiavellians.

We are able to do nothing but roll our eyes and watch in shocking silence as the 222 Dewan Rakyat members of our government trudge forward leading 32 million people in the wrong path and direction, mislead ambitions and beliefs.

We are fed up of never-ending newspaper reports regarding well-dressed politicians attending court cases for their shameful offences either seeking a postponement or change of legal advisors.

We need a system that can curb these kinds of tirades.

As difficult as times may be for us to eke out a decent living, we want our children to go to the best schools, have a decent job and live a meaningful life.

It scares us to know that there are over 2,000 old patients in our public hospitals with nowhere to go, and more vagrants in the streets.

In Kuala Lumpur alone, there are more than 10,000 vagrants roaming the streets with no place to call home.

The three of us could only summarize the darkening clouds hovering over our nation as a passing cloud, but with a very vague vision of who would address the issues.

Will we see any changes in the coming general election and find the savior of our nation? Will the current parties stand a chance or will there be new political tsunami? Will we find solutions for ourselves as brighter future ambitions for our younger generation? Will Malaysia be able to reclaim the title of Asian Tiger once more?

I like Dr. Zul’s words of conclusion, “Change starts with me. I want to be a good father, a good neighbor, a good citizen thus ensuring that I do my best in whatever I do to bring greater results.”

We pondered on the what is, what if and what issues we had discussed through the morning over a second cup of coffee, before exchanging fond and memorable thanks and goodbyes to one another.

(Ravindran Raman Kutty is an active social worker.)

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Ravindran Raman Kutty

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