365 new days, 365 new chances

As Churchill once said: ‘... Here’s to a year of toil – a year of struggle and peril.... May we all come through safe and with honour.’

WHEN I was younger, I simply loved reading. I still do even though work does not leave much time for it these days.

I especially love history. Nothing teaches us more about society and how civilisations rise and fall like history. As we turn the page to 2020, the events of the months and days leading to it reminded me of what one of the great men of history said.

On Jan 1,1942, on a train from Ottawa to Washington DC, Winston Churchill made this toast: ‘... Here’s to a year of toil – a year of struggle and peril, and a long step forward towards victory. May we all come through safe and with honour.’

Nothing could be more apt to describe what I see, we Malaysians face in the year ahead. I wish, and I truly wish, that we will be mentally ready to do what is needed to make our beloved nation a great one, because that is what we are capable of if we dare.

Hence, these are my wishes for the New Year:

That we Malaysians realise we are ONE people. That none of us are more special than others; that we are brothers and sisters in arms, irrespective of race and religion, working to make this nation of ours a better place for everyone, not just for us and our family, but also for our fellow citizens who have made this land our home.

I wish we can find in our hearts all that divide us and burn it in the cold of the night. Make the ambers heat the love that is within all of us and make it warm for us to embrace each other as one. Malaysians.

I wish we, the citizens of this great nation – for Malaysia is a great nation as it is forged in a spirit of togetherness and harmony none other had started out with – will move forward to make it what it ought to be. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If you take all the pieces of a flower and lay them on the ground, they will not grow and flourish the way a whole flower does. It is the same with us as a nation. We need to unite to bring it up even when there are those intent to keep us down.

We, the people need to unite. This great country of ours has become divided, and, if we are to flourish, we must reunite for the common good.

I wish we Malaysians are fearless as a people. Instead, we have been conditioned by fear. Fear that holds us back from saying bold words and taking courageous actions even when we are in the right. We fear of what people will think of us, say or do to us. We fear of the humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the self. We fear the people we elect to be our servants. We fear the people we pay to administer the work needed to make our lives better.

I wish Malaysians have the courage of their convictions. The more clearly and calmly we can articulate the origins of the fear, the less our fears will frighten us and control us. As Franklin Roosevelt famously asserted, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself”.

I wish Malaysians are not apathetic. “Tidak apa. What can I do. Malas la. Why bother”. Frankly, I believe this apathy is rooted in selfishness and taking care of oneself and one’s own only. We do not have the tradition of the nobility of personal public service for the good and progress of our people. We leave this to others while we busy ourselves making money and getting a comfortable life only for ourselves. In fact, self-service and sacrifice for the common good is looked down on as being stupid. Hence, apathy is our greatest enemy to mobilise a continuous effort to reform our lives and a future we really want.

I wish our politicians will have credibility, integrity and capability. When we fill politics with people whose entrance into it is way before they have achieved anything real in their lives, personal experience and worth in value that most of us ordinary people struggle to attain, then expect those who get into it, goes in it because it provides the personal benefit they cannot attain by real work and worth. That’s just the way it is.

I wish Malaysians have a sense of history and of human civilisation. That change come from within and from those thinking masses. That no change ever come from government or its so-called leaders but from its own people leading its own movement to force change upon the powers that be. History is replete with such sacrifices of ordinary peoples doing extraordinary things. Slavery by the abolitionist movement. Women’s vote by the suffrage movement. The civil rights movement. That is how a country and the people became the greatest on earth.

I wish our children to have the best education the world could offer, to all Malaysians without quota but on merit. I wish they are provided basic fundamental education competitive and scientific such that they can compete on merit when it comes to tertiary opportunity. I wish our precious human resource goes to the right places at the right levels and thus able to build this nation in the right way.

I wish ordinary Malaysians would see that we have the ability to make a difference if we are united to see change happen. I wish in the coming years where real change comes to our shores, both for our brethren in the Peninsular and in Sabah and Sarawak. We are the people that matter. We are the people that will make things better.

I wish we realise that time is of the essence. We must understand that the world is passing us by and we do nothing. We expect others to do for us and we know they will not. And yet we do nothing ourselves, again. I wish we get off our butt, put our money where our mouth is, mobilize and be the saviours of our children and our children’s children future.

I wish for Malaysians civil liberties fully respected by the powers that be. To be able to speak up without fear or favour. To have the dignity of being accorded rights as all humans should. To be able to live without being judged and harassed as adults and intelligent human beings.

I wish we are a nation that is non-divisive and non-destructive, and rather distinguished by humility, inclusivity, harmlessness and detachment.

BUT, most of all, I wish all of us HAPPINESS. Only through happiness is the one life goal that makes all other life goals meaningful. Our life is like a coin. You can spend it anyway you want, but only once. Make sure you invest it and don’t waste it. Invest it in something that matters to you and matters for eternity.

As we step into another year I’d like to thank all of you for lifting me up, believing in me and encouraging me to move forward. May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your cardiologist, your gastro-enterologist, your urologist, your proctologist, your podiatrist, your psychiatrist and your plumber! May we live in interesting times!

Let us toil, struggle and sacrifice in our own long step forward towards victory, honour and dignity for all in our beloved country. Happy New Year dear readers!

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