Malaysia's way forward
Malaysia has had an eventful 2018. The highlight of it was, of course, the Pakatan Harapan’s historical win in the 14th general election on May 9th, when it ended over 60 years of Barisan Nasional rule.
It has been a year of great changes for the nation and we now move into 2019 with greater hope and determination for the nation.
We have had several by-elections, some due to the demise of a few elected members and one to allow Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim entry into the Parliament. The clock is ticking and we have much to do and not much time to do it.
My hope is for a better nation and I believe this can be achieved with a better education system, which brings better scholars and greater unity. We want innovative, productive and highly disciplined Malaysians. We want to instill human values into Malaysians so as to ensure high human values.
We need more science and mathematics-oriented individuals and innovative Malaysians who will bring greater benefit to the growth of our nation.
Many Malaysians feel strongly that in order to bring national unity we must do away with vernacular schools. Pursuing this idea is bound to create chaos and distrust.
We must bring about greater interaction among all schools via sports meets, debates, open houses, cross visits and also compulsory civic and unity programmes. The Vision Schools must be further improved so as to ensure that there is better assimilation among the Malays and non-Malays.
We must also reduce the infusion of religion in schools. If religion is not infused too aggressively, there will be greater participation among the Indian and Chinese students in the national schools. The hiring of teachers and the appointment of school principals must also be reviewed and positively done in view of performance rather than any particular race.
We need to focus on youth development. Sixty percent of Malaysians are youths. They are the future of our nation. We must plan and execute the education system especially the secondary to university or technical school levels.
Currently, we have a system where the SPM exams end in November, the results are obtained in April the following year, and technical colleges recruit their intakes in the month of June.
The six-month waiting period is too long; some youths get involved in negative activities such as joining the Mat Rempit and Ah Long gangs.
Others may get part-time jobs and over time decide to continue working instead of pursuing further education since they have experienced “earning and spending”.
There is a possibility that our high SPM leaver dropout rate would only increase so we need the cooperation of the Youth and Sports Ministry, Education Ministry and the Human Resources Ministry to work closely and seamlessly to overcome this issue.
Schools must identify the weak students before the final term of Form Five and ensure that they enrol for a six-month programme in technical schools or centres in hands-on subjects like carpentry or plumbing; electrical areas like wiring or motor mechanics; home economics such as sewing and cooking; agriculture activities such as gardening or farming; or even literary courses including writing or shorthand.
We have to create a society that is more caring, loving and humane. If we focus on youth programmes holistically, we can reduce our national expenditure for the maintenance of our prisons and the police force.
The programmes should run from the kindergarten to the university level. Our education system must cater for this.
We are divided by race, religion and language. The ministry must undertake programmes instead of just organising “open house” feasts for the public during festivals. Indeed, we are tired of it.
Inter-faith dialogues could be held among all religions to share the teachings and values of each other’s beliefs among our communities. Avoid highlighting the negativity of any one race but instead emphasise on the positive issues.
For this, the mass media plays a great role. Television and radio stations must pay special attention to racial integration rather than just highlighting just one race. We must allow more programmes for all races. They should also be given equal opportunity to share their thoughts, beliefs and opinions.
Only then can we all place joint efforts to understand one another and form a united stand in tolerance, understanding and respect as one nation. We must truly show that we care. Highlight the “unsung heroes” in every area, irrespective of race or religion, so that their deeds are acknowledged by all. We must go beyond race and religion to bring unity.
The government must provide equal opportunities to all communities. The colour of their skin and deities whom they worship should not be questioned.
Equal and fair opportunities in business must be offered and granted to all. The perception of Malaysians must change. With a new government, there should come new changes. Good ones, too.
If we can address education, youth, economy and unity issues in a focused and serious manner, we can bring about a greater nation. A nation not deterred by religion or race, but a nation that will excel through the diversity of race, religion and culture which is a proven ingredient for a better nation.
No one should be neglected just because he or she is a minority. Every minority or majority must be viewed equally, giving importance to performance and merit.
For eons, Malaysia has been known as a unique multi-racial and multi-cultural nation, with several communities of varying lifestyles and beliefs living together in peace and harmony. This uniqueness should be further enhanced and upheld, and not become just another fact in our history books for our future generations to come.
Malaysia is a sure success if every politician takes pride in providing a leadership beyond race or religion, but holding steadfast to our Rukunegara principles.
Ravindran Raman Kutty