By JOE LEONG aka BORNEO ANT
COMMENT: On that historic day on September 16, 1963 at Stadium Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur, Tunku Abdul Rahman, our first prime minister, was given the honour to read the Proclamation of Malaysia that that marked the birth of a new nation known as the Federation of Malaysia.
I was then a budding cub reporter of Kuching-based daily, The Sarawak Tribune. But that moment was deeply imprinted in my memory.
The voice of Tunku, patriarch of our new nation, came loud and clear as he intoned: “The great day we have long awaited has come at last – the birth of Malaysia. In a warm spirit of joy and hope ten million people of many races in all the states of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah now join hands in freedom and joy.”
It was truly a moment of history that evoked a powerful spirit of hope and promise for a country where people of many races and creed could join hands sharing freedom, peace, prosperity and happiness.
Today, fast forward to five years more than half a century later, this spirit of common joy and the common dream of Malaysians to enjoy freedom, peace, prosperity and happiness is under serious threats once again.
Dark clouds now hover around our nation’s capital generated by thunderous shouts and screams of anger and hatred in videos and other means of modern day technology have been in circulation for several weeks in the social media, all seemingly encouraged and supported by a group of political figures who have lost the mandate of the electorate in the May general elections (GE14).
In some of these verbal spits of fire and poison, references to the May 13 (1969) racial rioting incident were openly made. What saddens my heart and that of countless other peace-loving Malaysians in Malaya or in the Borneo states, is that instead of learning from past mistakes and horror, there is a small number of our citizens who prefer to look backwards and to tread on the path of destruction.
More seriously, they are rejecting the very basic democratic principles on which our Federation was founded and have apparently refused to accept the reality of political life. During the GE14 conducted earlier this year, Malaysians were given the opportunity to elect the best possible political leaders that would serve the common good.
In reality, politicians engaged in any electoral battle, should accept the possibility of either victory or failure. Plainly, it is the duty of the victorious to get on with the task of providing good governance of the country and on the other hand, the vanquished to move to the opposition bench, playing their rightful role there.
The voice of Malaysians had been clear, rejecting those who only serve narrow and personal interests, were engaged in the misappropriation of resources, thus causing great damage to the social fabric of society, race relations and financial health of the nation.
The task at hand for our national leaders is extremely hard, made more difficult by the huge financial debts resulting from the misdeeds of past leaders that run into billions of ringgit. They are already hard pressed to move ahead in nation building. It is indeed foolhardy for the government to allow any form of unrest to detract it from its noble task.
Let good triumph over evil.
It is time the government show its firmness in dealing effectively with those out to cause fear and destruction by words or deed. Time has passed for Malaysians to be threatened and come under the bondage of oppressive leaders. Let not such past practices of the dark age of our political history come back to haunt us once again. Lawlessness and extremism of any form has no place in our society.
Let the rule of law prevail.
Having witnessed, as a journalist, how our nation has overcome many similar challenges in the past 55 years of nationhood, I am confident that in the end, the ultimate objectives of those who are openly and loudly defying law and order shall come to naught.
My confidence is also based on observations of the good start made by Tun Mahathir Mohammad and his Federal Cabinet team on all fronts. Despite the difficulties currently faced, they are as determined as ever to eventually bring Malaysia to a developed state.
I have also been impressed by the brilliant start made by Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Mohd Shafie Haji Apdal, who with his young and dedicated team, is going about their ministerial duties systematically and steadily in the formidable task of bringing this long neglected state back to its past glory.
Sabah is not only blessed with vast natural resources, but is truly a shining star where peoples of over 30 races and tribes naturally live at peace and harmony. Datuk Seri Shafie has opening professed to make Sabah “the most progressive state in Malaysia”.
Having had the opportunity to know him over an hour-long interview and personally listening to his sincere desire and deep conviction to work for the good of the state in August, I am very convinced that he means business in wanting to fulfil this promise.
In the end, we shall still join hands in freedom and joy towards peace, prosperity and happiness – a Malaysian dream cherished by our beloved Tunku Abdul Rahman and by our own founding fathers in Sabah, like Tun Datu Mustapha Datu Harun, Tun Fuad (Donald) Stephens, Datuk Khoo Siak Chew and Datuk Gunsanad Sundang.
• JOE LEONG, who has been in the field of mass media communications since 1962, has kept a close watch over progress and development of Malaysia since its formation