I hate to say this, but we do not appear to have a particularly savvy leadership.
We would like to believe that the people running the country are smarter than us, people who know what they are doing and are planning the country’s future intelligently, and with the best of intentions.
Does any Malaysian, hand on heart, think this is true in this Year of the Lord AD2021?
The country’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, for instance, started superbly only to sputter to its current abysmal state.
Khairy Jamaluddin, the Czar of the vaccination programme, is tragically long on promise and short on delivery. And what’s with these silly ads featuring them truly: “We’ve been vaccinated. Have you?”
You don’t need to go to Oxford to know what’s screaming back at you: we would if we could!
At the rate we are proceeding, it will take 15 years to vaccinate the entire country.
Why did we not begin to stock up on vaccines a year ago like Singapore? Like we have such experience with vaccine development, that we needed to “study the data?”
Let’s not delude ourselves. And when we do finally start, we begin with the high and mighty instead of the ones that matter – the medical staff, the ambulance personnel, teachers.
And why have the politicians taken over? What happened to the Science Adviser? Or the Director General of Health? Or does the Czar think that politicians inspire more confidence? If so, he knows something we don’t.
We also do not need disingenuous statements that encourage fatalism and apathy. Here, Hadi Awang’s statement – that Muslims who die of Covid would die as “martyrs” – qualifies.
How his dogmatic opinion advances the cause of science, medicine or the price of fish is beyond anyone. And what about its theological implications: what happens to non-Muslim fatalities?
As I write this, I note that tomorrow is Earth Day. Indeed, we are entering a period of increased awareness of climate change and the importance of sustainable development. Which begs the question: are our leaders thinking about new growth paths?
Not at all. The premier recently said that mineral development was the way to go for the future and that by 2030, mineral extraction would be a significant growth driver.
It does not say much for a thinking government that its only fallback option for the future is, once again, the easy way out – resource exploitation with all its attendant perils of pollution, water contamination and environmental degradation.
We already have the answer, but we refuse to accept them because they are politically unacceptable. The industries and way of the future have already been mapped out in the New Economic Model of 2009 – a far reaching document that was authorised, incidentally, by now-disgraced premier Najib Razak. But it was never even considered because the Malays felt that it might undermine their position going forward. Indeed, it wasn’t even debated.
As it perpetually is with us, we keep throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It may be time to stop and reflect, look back at the document and pick what we might use. We have to make some hard choices and stop blaming others or reach for the easy way out.
Otherwise change might be forced on us because, in the end, that is all history ever teaches.