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Farewell, 2014

By LIM SUE GOAN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily

The year 2014 is going to step off the stage of history. For Malaysians, 2014 is a painful year, but 2015 is not much better either.

The year 2014 is full of painful memories. The mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines MH370 flight and the crash of MH17 after being shot have resulted in 537 casualties. The pain of the victims' family members can never be forgotten and thus, the people voted Chinese character "" (navigation) as the Chinese word of the year.

However, the word alone is not enough to represent the grief, or generalise the storms we faced throughout the year, particularly the people's confusion and anxiety.

The two aviation tragedies are supposed to inspire patriotism and love. They are chances to unite all Malaysians. However, view differences and contradictory ideas made the determination to ride out the storm together last only for a few days, before the country fell into chaos again.

A country must keep progressing every year and targets should be hit to move forward amidst the intensified competitive environment under the trend of globalisation. However, we found that the country has made only little progress and many areas have even encountered regression.

Politically, groups and individuals who are supposed to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of Christmas are now busy in supporting the moderation movement, showing that everyone is in anxiety, hoping to unite forces and prevent the country from falling into the abyss of extremism.

The moderation movement should not be just a small movement involving only a small number of members of the society. However, it is worrisome as it could be distorted and evolve into another storm.

The Kelantan State Assembly will convene a special meeting on Dec 29 to table two private member Bills that will allow the enforcement of the Syariah Criminal Code II that it approved in 1993, paving the way for the implementation of what is widely known as hudud law.

The implementation of hudud law is expected to trigger controversy between secular country and Islamic state. It is a political issue, as well as a religious issue. It would tear the society and religion apart.

Political haze continues to cover the society while racial clamouring continues. It can be expected that the political environment next year will worsen. Anti-liberalism would be the biggest crisis as a closed society will make some people see things in their own perspective, helping the growth of radical and extreme thinking.

The Muslim community is also expected to be hit by terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS). The Prime Minister presented the White Paper in Parliament to call for anti-terrorism, but there are still many joining and funding the IS militants.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar has admitted that Malaysia has become a transit point for terrorist activities. If religious moderation, communication and tolerance are not promoted, we will embark on a road of no return.

The economic outlook next year is not optimistic. The plummeted international crude oil price will reduce the government's oil revenue. Meanwhile, the plunged ringgit is also expected to lead to imported inflation, together with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) scheduled to be implemented in April next year and the unstable global economy, the year of 2015 would be a difficult year for the public.

The international oil price has fallen to a new low but the retail prices of petrol and diesel fuel will fall only in January, while electricity tariff should be reviewed the fastest in June next year, causing the public not being able to immediately benefit from the falling oil prices.

Although the government has exempted GST for necessities, fees for banking services and medical insurance are not exempted from the GST, inevitably causing the people panic.

As for other areas, such as anti-corruption efforts, the country's ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) has slightly improved, from 53rd out of 177 countries last year to 50th out of 175 countries this year. However, international anti-corruption group Global Financial Integrity's (GFI) put Malaysia at the fifth place in illicit outflow, as the country lost over US$48.93 billion (RM170.7 billion) in 2012.

It showed that corruption is very serious in the country, but the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) plans to amend the Malaysian Anti-corruption commission Act 2009 next year to include corporate liability provision, so that employers have to be responsible for corruption acts committed by their employees, showing that the commission has failed in identifying the source of the problem.

National education is also retrograding. The world rankings of local universities are appalling. The performance of Mathematics and Science is going backwards. Other assessments reflecting freedom and openness also set record lows, including human rights and press freedom.

In addition, many old problems have been repeated, including the Auditor-General's Report, Cameron Highlands' floods, and East Coast floods. No solution can be seen.

Malaysians must usher in the brand new year with new thinking, or the road ahead will be thorny and the advanced country vision will distance farther and farther away from us.

 

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