Obesity, apparently, is a growing problem in Malaysia.
In fact, it is so problematic that a lot of people in Malaysia are overweight. Indeed, the number of overweight people in the country could very well constitute the majority, which means the overweight person now constitutes the average.
There you go. That’s nailing your main New Year resolution right there.
A new year is dawning, and we stand poised to leave the last teen year of our lives. And what we approach – 2020 – is a bellwether because it used to represent an ideal first articulated by Dr Mahathir in 1991 when all Malaysians might “walk free and equal under the Malaysian sun.”
We are becoming more polarised along racial and religious lines. And, alarmingly, it is almost always seen as a Malay-Non-Malay schism, a phenomenon that’s been boosted by the alliance between the primary Malay opposition parties.
Minor matters are being blown out of proportion. The return, and disposal, of Chin Peng’s ashes has stirred up such a fuss and such anger against the government, you’d think communism was alive and well in Malaysia!
Unfortunately, that’s what some people think. A Muslim preacher said that recently; while another student warned that the country could face race riots if the Chinese educationist group, Dong Zong, was not banned.
Meanwhile, the ringgit stubbornly remains below RM4 to the greenback while the stock-market is trending near four-year lows. And this despite very reasonable economic growth for last year and this. Let’s face it, a 4-5% expansion in real gross domestic product in these economic times is very good.
And notwithstanding the defence put up by Mr Kadir Jasin, some of that blame must rest squarely with the Prime Minister. Markets hate uncertainty and, faced with it, almost always vote with their feet.
By adamantly refusing to set a definite date for a transfer of power, Dr Mahathir has cast a pall of uncertainty over the PH government. That is not only irresponsible – he is 94 – but downright distasteful.
It seems to suggest that he can no longer bear to be out of power after having achieved it again, and against all the odds. For a man who willingly surrendered power in 2003 when he was unchallengeable, that is not only sad but pathetic.
To say it’s because he does not trust Mr Anwar Ibrahim is almost disingenuous. Could not that be said for all his potential and real-life successors?
Which reminds me. In early 1994, I was invited to a three-day seminar in Langkawi. Dubbed a camp to build a “Premier Nation,” its participants were all non-Malay Malaysians comprising politicians, prominent businessmen and others including journalists.
On the last day, Dr Mahathir held court and he did so candidly. At question time, I thought I would also be frank and asked him about Vision 2020, something along these lines. On hindsight, I never thought it would be ironic.
“2020 expects equality and a blurring of race. But that will arouse opposition and it’s likely that you won’t be around. What guarantees do we, the Non-Malays, have that your successor, whoever he is, will share your allegiance to the policy.”
Dr M then ran through his potential successors – Musa Hitam and Ghafar Baba, respectively – whom he then proceeded to disparage.
He then assured us that “if anyone can, my successor Anwar Ibrahim” will deliver 2020, adding surprisingly, “he reminds me of myself when I was that age.”
OK, that was 26 years ago. But who knows, maybe 2020 will be a good year, perhaps even better than its predecessor. Let us hope so.
Happy New Year folks.