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Let’s build a better Malaysia

  • A greater Malaysia is not built overnight, neither is it the responsibility of the government. It is our collective responsibility to build, mould, carve and chisel our nation.

By Ravindran Raman Kutty

Life is extremely tiring if you are caught up with work, traffic jams, domestic issues and health issues. When age rises, so do risks, leading to the weakening of our support system around us, especially that of our children and spouse. As negative as it may sound, the reality of today’s world is such.

We read daily on how many elders or grandparents are badly treated and placed in old folks’ homes, spending their final years in loneliness. At 58, I still feel extremely young, albeit a few grey hairs. Age is inside, but your looks are outside.

Ageing is inevitable, but attitude is not. It is what you think of yourself, your friends, family, neighbours, community and the world outside, that form your way of thinking and way of life. Life is funny for those who have a great sense of humour; a game for those who have an affinity to sports, a pain for those who are in pain. It is the choice that we make in our lives that decides our tomorrow.

How wonderful it would be if everyone felt they could share everything in this world. If only people start sharing with one another, we will have no wars, hunger, famine, poverty, prisons, robberies, old folks’ homes, mid-way homes, orphanages and shelter homes for animals. Sadly, this is only a dream. Why is it that man keeps his things to himself, yet yearns for more? Whilst some may consider it being hard-working, thinking out of the box or saving for the future, others may consider this greed, desire or lust.

Striking a balance in life is tough. We are so used to having almost everything in life. When I was young, luxury meant having chicken for a meal, having an ice cream, eating in a restaurant, riding in an air-conditioned car, and wearing a pair of branded Bata shoes to school. Today, these luxuries have become necessities, and for those who can afford them, a norm. The balance we seek is blurred when everything is centred on costs.

As level-headed Malaysians we must weigh our options well and ensure that there is fairness and equality in our decisions in order to achieve greater results whether in work, family or the running of our nation. The people voted against the BN government on 5th May 2018, wanting a new government that is proactive, cost effective and can make life more balanced.

While the government has been struggling for the past fourteen months to mitigate the deep-rooted issues. It is trying to fulfil its campaign promises to the people of reducing perennial cost of living that has been bugging every Malaysian. We too should bear some of the responsibilities in making changes and achieving better heights in our lives. Instead of constantly complaining and expecting instant changes, perhaps every Malaysian should go by the motto “Change Starts with Me”, and take steps to push towards such changes taking place. We must first do the following simple things while the government does their part.

Make sure we keep our home, our neighbourhood and our community clean and free from waste. Waste must be managed by everyone. It is not the responsibility of only the local authority or waste management company. Separate the waste – we have all been educated enough to do this; start now. We can save the government several millions a month, if we manage our waste carefully.

Make sure the drains around us are clean and there is no water stagnate. If we see a clogged drain, let’s ensure we clean it ourselves or get the relevant parties to do so.

As citizens of the country, other than forwarding messages and chatting or whining for hours in cafes and coffee shops about the woes of the world, there are several things that we can do to overcome problems that we are facing in our environment. Report to the authorities if people are spotted not abiding by the non-smoking rule as per announced by the government. Organise a “gotong-royong” amongst the residents of your housing area to help clean up your area and tackle the dengue issues.

Look seriously at the empty lands around the corners of your housing estate or at the places where you live. Use these lands to plant a banana tree or a tapioca/cassava. This will be extremely useful for your health and brings enormous benefits to your family. Don’t ignore the empty land, go see the local authorities or the agricultural department at your respective towns, they are more than willing to help you to garden, fertiliser and even the techniques in growing your vegetables. This will be beneficial to you. This simple garden harvest will bring fresh, clean, non-pesticide food to your table.

After ensuring the environment and house is clean, focus on our children. Teach them good values and habits at home, not only at school. Have at least one meal with them, talk to them about the issues around our nation or about human values. It is very important to teach our children that we live in a multi-racial and multi-religious society where we must respect everyone’s culture and lifestyle. This will go a long way to instil in their young minds the importance of living together in the Malaysian community. Through this simple effort, we reduce race and religious tensions among Malaysians, in a very simple yet proactive manner.

As parents, we also have a responsibility to ensure that our children’s movements are monitored. We must know who their friends are, where they normally meet after school, what activities they are involved in. We must be certain that our children are at school regularly and not elsewhere. If we can monitor these fundamental things at home, we can certainly reduce many social issues hovering our nation resulting in millions being spent to curb them i.e. drugs, Mat Rempits, Ah Longs, gangsters, and increasing crime in the urban and rural areas. We can save billions if parents pay more attention to their children rather than their mobile phones. Keep a close watch of their movements to cyber cafes too.

The other critical point is being mindful when making comments and postings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or WhatsApp. We must be sensitive to every Malaysian race and religion, beliefs and culture. We cannot at any time pretend to be unaware, ignore the feelings and consequences of our words towards others, be arrogant or insensitive to one another.

We must understand that “one swallow does not make summer”. One person’s view on an issue is not the representation of the whole society or community. We must be careful, pragmatic and ensure we are always mindful of the feelings, practices and lifestyle of every community. Certain politicians are known for their knee jerk statements and responses. Such nauseating and insensitive statements should not influence us, but instead we must ignore them and continue being the caring, sharing, understanding Malaysians that we have been for the past seven decades.

We must encourage our children to read all materials that are vital for the development of their brains. Books are like honey to bees. We must encourage and ensure our children visit the library and develop a sense of love and respect for books albeit the fact that we are fast becoming a cyber world. Let the child touch a book and read it, rather than just to sit in front of a computer or tab as a couch potato. Take them to orphanages, centres for the disabled and physically challenged, even animal shelters. Teach them to appreciate the more fortunate lifestyle that they have, and to be orientated to understand that there are perfections among imperfections.

Life can be exhausting with everyone racing to achieve his or her dreams. Although work is a necessity to earn an income for us to survive, we fail to realise that we allow our work and job to run our lives. We must look around us and change the surrounding imperfections to perfections as best possible. Life is short; enjoy the simple things in life, companionship and camaraderie with friends, time and love with family and loved ones – cherish the aspects of which money that we tirelessly earn from our work cannot buy.

A greater Malaysia is not built overnight, neither is it the responsibility of the government. It is our collective responsibility to build, mould, carve and chisel our nation. It is from womb to tomb that we build our nation. It is through every little effort that we make to do so. Let’s all, forget our differences and build our nation, just as what Emperor Meiji did to Japan, after the second world war.

(Ravindran Raman Kutty is an active social worker.)


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