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In Utusan and Bernama plight, a Merdeka of Compassion

  • "I have been ashamed of Malays and Muslims for all the corruption they have accepted, abusive words they have thrown at others, cruel misdeeds they have intended, and false religious sense of righteousness they have portrayed."

By Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi

While thinking about a topic to write this Merdeka, I was unusually wrapped in a gloom that was hard to shake. I guess the Khat issue had taken its toll on my spirit when once again our society are at odds with one another with Malays calling Chinese kafir harbi and musoh bangsat in many WhatsApp, Facebook and other comments.

I had thought of a title beginning with ‘A Meaningless Merdeka’ but found no strength, will or spirit to actually put words on the computer screen. However, the news about the plight of the workers from Utusan and Bernama in dire straits plucked me out of my melancholic trance as I pondered a simple and devastating question. This question is about what is the meaning of our humanity after so much modern education, so much religious knowledge, so much money spent going to holy pilgrimages and devotions, when it comes down to the crunch…we abandoned our humanity, spirituality and simple sense of goodness in the very face of human need.

I read with a painful heart at the thought of the children of the Utusan and Bernama workers not even able to buy milk. I stared blankly at the computer reading the words that these people had to go to Ah Long for help. I thought to myself are we a destitute nation? Has our country been ravaged by a natural disaster or a financial meltdown that we no longer have the economic infra-structure to extend a helping hand to these people?

For more than 60 years we have been together as a nation. All we have learnt from those times are hatred and mistrust. The Malays, I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit, still follow their opportunistic leaders in nurturing their hate through firstly a racial sense of crusade to be replaced by and even dangerous strife of religious fervor. The non-Malays, understandably, are suspicious at everything the Malays do in order to protect what they see as their own identity. We are a family that is dysfunctional, living under one roof. At the pretext of Muhibbah, at the pretext of Perpaduan and at the pretext of Patriotism we try to dissolve this line of hatred and distrust but after more than six decades, the grade is a total failure. Some would disagree with me and say that it is not a failed grade because we do not kill each other with bombs and knives. Only once or twice only in 60 years. Good record what…! Well, in my book, if there is still hatred and distrust, after all this time, it is a failure in any measure.

So, I fail to understand why we can’t simply help the workers of Utusan and Bernama and others who will probably suffer the same fate in this time of economic uncertainty. In my simple mind, why the devil can’t the EPF come out first and foremost to help these people? After writing so many articles about how the EPF is the solution to the PTPTN, only now the realization comes forth. After 2 whole years of writing!. Should it take two more years before we can say that EPF should release some of the worker’s fund to them in this time of great need? I would say RM20,000 – RM40,000 should be released to these workers.

Secondly, what of our government that we elected? So they sit by and gloat at the misery of their once enemies who call the DAP leaders by every name in the unholy books? The last time I checked all these workers are Malaysians.

This country belongs to all of us, including the Bernama and the Utusan workers. If we have money to spare for useless projects like the flying car and the third national car, I think we should invest in compassion and charity. It would only require a mere few million ringgit to give a soft interest free loan of RM10,000 to the workers payable after two years have lapsed when these people have put their lives back in order.

Thirdly, what about our banks? Are these entities manned by Artificial Intelligence with hearts of screws, nuts and bolts? Do we have to apply to a heartless 4th Industry smirking robot for a loan to feed our children? Where is our heart and compassion if the bankers are truly humans? A soft loan of 2% interest of a matching amount as the government should be able to help the workers again with instalments to begin after a two year period. Tak boleh kah? Susah sangat kah? Tak ada duit kah? This is certainly not a business investment. This is more important. It is a human investment.

Finally, what of the non-Malays in this country? I have never in my career written negatively about any other race or religious adherents other than those of my own. I have earned the anger and disgust of my own Malay and Muslim brethren for writing to remind them to be generous, forgiving and berlapang dada with the non-Malays. This time I ask my brethren Malaysians to look deep into their hearts and pray for compassion to help those that have given them a shameful treatment of being less than an honorable citizen. I call on the compassionate spirit of the Prophet Muhammad in his liberation of Mecca. I call on the forgiving spirit of Mandela in his time of triumph. I call on the humble spirit of the Mahatma in treating all faiths as the children of God.

This can be an important turning point in our country. I have thought long and hard about economic, educational, religious and political solutions to unite this country and I have found none that can work. However, this is an opportune time to act out a gesture of charity and forgiveness to help out own citizen-brethren regardless of their past dark deeds for the sake of the children as the new generation that will douse the embers of hatred and mistrusts.

I have been ashamed of Malays and Muslims for all the corruption that they have accepted, for all the abusive words they have thrown at others, for all the cruel misdeeds they have intended in their Facebook and WhatsApp and for all their false religious sense of righteousness that they seem to portray. However, nothing would make me feel sadder and more ashamed than being a Malaysian that would fail to help another Malaysian in dire need.

So, what shall it be…Malaysians? Another meaningless merdeka or a Merdeka of Compassion?

(Prof Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi is Professor at UCSI University.)


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