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Compare our nation with some worn torn countries or where minorities are persecuted for their beliefs. Yet, we so often do not count our blessings. EMAIL

It is most disheartening to read negative commentaries on Merdeka on social media and in the mainstream media.

While there are commentaries promoting unity, tolerance and respect for the plurality of ethnicity, religion, and culture, there are others by academics and online writers that ridicule the spirit of Merdeka by labelling it meaningless and heartless.

These commentators spewed disparaging remarks about the state of the nation with respect to governance, education, religion and inter-ethnic relations; they opined that there is no longer any hope or dignity left in this country as the Malays themselves would unleash a destructive force causing the nation to collapse.

Reading these commentaries, one could not help but feel a waning sense of patriotism and gratitude.

It would seem that these commentators are on a fault-finding mission and some of them make a living finding fault with anything and everything under the guise of political analysts.

One particular writer assumes a condescending attitude berating Malay academics, the government, corporate figures, politicians and everything else that is Malay and Islam.

He contends that Islam and politics are the bane of the Malays and such a combination is detrimental to their future. That the country will descend into chaos, become a failed state and recede into oblivion. Even if they survived, Malay Muslims would become persona non grata outside their country.

As such, he advocates migrating to neighbouring countries that would offer a future for his children and others like him.

It is a case of the grass on the other side of the fence being always greener. And a twist of the Malay proverb, hujan emas di negara orang, hujan batu di negara sendiri. Assuming that one would be accepted in and be able to acculturate to life in other countries.

Online and even mainstream writers constantly harp on Islam, the Malay race, Malay leadership and educational system as being inept and irrelevant in the current social, economic and political set-up. The national education system is regarded as chaotic and directionless.

In an effort to save the country the writer suggests changing the government, and rejecting national schools in favour of vernacular ones, which, according to him, are not bigoted or constrained by religious or ethnic sentiments. Alternatively, preference should be given to international schools. There is hope in private tertiary education as the public ones are in disarray. Malay students graduating from these institutions would not be bogged down by ethnic and religious baggage and would, therefore, be in a better position to save the nation.

Such an apocalyptic picture of this country by these writers reflect pessimism beyond sanity, perceiving the nation from a prismatic distorted vision of a Mephistophelean surrealist that engenders a Faustian scenario.

But if one reflects in a rational and logical manner, a different picture of the nation state would emerge.

Most of the time we take these things for granted and at times cannot see the forest for the trees.

In fact, we have made tremendous progress since Merdeka. We are blessed in this peaceful country where we enjoy security, economic opportunities and a reasonably comfortable lifestyle. There is no shortage of food, we can own property without much restriction.

The people can freely choose the type of schools for their children. There is freedom of worship; mosques, churches, Hindu and Chinese temples are ubiquitous all over Malaysia.

And we have freedom of movement, free to travel to any destination of our choice. And in this New Malaysia, we can criticise the government and any political party without fear of being incarcerated.

More importantly, we can sleep peacefully, oblivious to the fact that the police and armed forces are on constant alert to ensure our security.

Compare our nation with worn-torn countries or where minorities are persecuted for their beliefs. Yet we so often do not count our blessings.

Thus when viewed from a proper perspective this nation has shown resilience in engaging socio-economic, religious and ethnic problems in a peaceful and sane manner.

There is no denying that there are pitfalls in all these aspects of governance and existence, posing serious challenges to the government. Nevertheless, the sanity, understanding and patience of its people and their willingness to give time to resolve them in a peaceful manner is most commendable.

It is important that the people engage the government in a constructive manner and not simply be obtusely and unrealistically critical. These people, such as online and some mainstream writers, portray an apocalyptic scenario that creates unfounded fears and anxiety among the populace to serve their bigoted agenda.

Despite these naysayers, this nation will not become a failed state as some academic writers and politicians portend.

God-willing, with the current emphasis on accountability and openness, the nation will forge ahead but not without trials and tribulations.

The writer is lecturer at Centre for Policy Research and international Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang

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