Malaysia Chronicle

Right! No celebrating each other’s cultural or religious festivals, lest you get confused and influenced by elements of that culture and religion.

This is the latest edict from the country’s religious affairs minister.

He reminded Muslims not to take part in the Japanese community’s annual Bon Odori summer festival, which has been observed for decades in Malaysia, on account of the celebration being “influenced by elements of other religions”.

Darn, so this year, for Deepavali, the Hindu festival of lights which is influenced by Hinduism, I cannot invite my Muslim friends and clients to my home to celebrate. And I better tell my Catholic wife that Christmas is off, too.

In fact, it amazes me that with my Hindu faith and her Christian belief, we haven’t totally confused ourselves in the 15 years that we’ve been together.

I am astonished that I haven’t jumbled up my ‘mantras’ with her daily prayers, or muddled up her rosary beads with my ‘rudraksha mala’.

I wonder what our religious affairs minister would say to the country’s previous prime minister who was very fond of donning traditional Indian attire and turning up to the ultimate Hindu festival, Thaipusam at Batu Caves, to fish for Indian votes.

Now is the time when Malaysia needs inclusiveness and religious understanding, cultural appreciation and for our citizens to get closer with each other. Proclamations and decrees like this are completely absurd and capricious.

It goes without saying that if your faith is strong, you cannot actually be influenced by elements of another religion. Or am I being delusional and do most people in Malaysia have razor thin faiths?

Isn’t it just mind-boggling that someone who is a minister in the prime minister’s department, would issue such a mindless comment?

It looks like tolerance and appreciation of each other’s beliefs, as a foundational pillar in our nationhood, is just a platitude that politicians spew out for votes.

The minister who made this comment is a politician. And, it is these politicians who confuse the Malaysian people with their comments, actions, and inaction.

Only in Malaysia, nonsensical issues like this take precedence over appalling matters like the lack of integrity in our national leaders.

Phenomenal sums of money have disappeared from our national coffers. Politicians have been hauled to court, or have a laundry list of accusations on them for corruption and abuse of power.

Some have already been found guilty, yet wantonly parade around claiming that they are victims of political persecution, and continue to behave like ‘king-makers’.

Yet, our religious affairs minister doesn’t find this issue of the lack of integrity in public officials a matter that confuses Malaysians?

Our nation is plagued with a plethora of urgent problems. The weakening ringgit, our mounting debt, the cost of living, the food shortages, the crazy traffic jams and petrol prices, and the continued national leadership charades.

These things don’t seem to take priority. No, instead it is important that we stay away from events that might confuse our religious beliefs.

It is high time we take stock of the leaders that we have.

Should we, at this point in our history, dump the people who are messing around, and focus on looking for those who have a track record of being exemplary at their work or professions, and are purely interested in serving the people of this nation?

Singapore just chose their fourth prime minister.

Aside from being impressively qualified from one of the best universities in the world, he was selected after he received the highest score in character, performance, integrity, quality and job KPIs. These KPIs include public complaints, racial hatred statements, legal court cases, and abuse of power.

Heck, juxtapose this with our ministers in Malaysia. Can you imagine if such a resume was necessary to become a minister in Malaysia? ‘Semua fail’!

Here, the dodgier your resume is, the more court cases you have, the longer the list of racist statements you make, and if you completely disregard public complaints, the more likely you are to be guaranteed a ‘ministership’.

Perhaps this is why we are lagging so far behind in comparison with our neighbour. Our per capita income stands at around US$10,000 and Singapore’s is closer to US$60,000. Maybe theirs is better because they select proper people to become leaders.

I don’t know who should lead us out of this deplorable chaos. But I know, without a shadow of a doubt that it cannot be any of the people who have failed us thus far.

Albert Einstein reportedly said “…insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.” So, we cannot expect different results with the same fellas, can we?

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. We need to drain the swamp in Malaysian politics.

Our citizens need to be brave and decide that it does not matter if someone has no experience or is a complete fresh face. All that matters is that our leaders must have integrity, can present new ideas, are able to bring disparate Malaysians together, and have boundless energy to work for us.

Malaysians are not easily confused, like this minister alludes to.

We just haven’t mustered up the courage to get rid of the people who distract us by stoking the flames of religious and cultural intolerance.

Malaysia, let’s wake-up and clean-up the political landscape, fast.



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