Column: Malaysia needs new dreams in 2020

[This first appeared in the Malay Mail, January 1 2019]

JANUARY 1 — Looking at the date change on my computer, it feels surreal.

It takes me back to my teens and reading that old manifesto, thinking that Wawasan 2020 was far off in the future.

Now the future is literally here.

What is strikingly odd is how much time has passed and yet, here we are, with the same man in power who pushed the 2020 agenda.

In many ways, I must admit, we have it better. In other ways, I think we have made quite a few steps backwards.

I think our problem is that we put too much store in certain figures to chart our course as a nation.

We put too much hopes in men; in a prime minister, in a wannabe prime minister, in politicians.

I think it is time we start to learn about that thing called consensus because really, we are not practising it enough.

All it takes is for one rabid group to threaten violence and what do we do? We take action… against the target.

It is odd and discomfiting that instead of calling out those who incite hatred and intolerance, we bend over backwards so they won’t “act out.”

We cannot continue to be held hostage to the wills of questionable groups.

It  is however tricky, this thing we call consensus. We are a nation of many peoples, of many dreams.

Yet there are things we can all stand behind ― better futures for our children and prosperity for all, for instance.

We cannot deal with racism by pretending it does not exist. Yet that is what some would have us do; festering boils need to be lanced, not covered with cloth and paint.

I  hope this one thing for our country, for Malaysia ― that we have not just one dreamer, but many. We need more voices, more thoughts, more dialogue.

We cannot let our collective futures be defined by any one man. Let Malaysia be a country for all peoples, for all its people.

I lift my glass then to this possible new future where we no longer are beholden to any single person’s legacy, where we all can dare to dream, no matter how disparate those dreams may be.

Happy New Year, my fellow Malaysians.

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