Friday, May 21, 2010

Either We Aspire To Greatness or Be The Next Greek Tragedy

The blogger/lawyer Art Harun has written an interesting philosophical piece on Integration with Integrity. I agree with much of his views and would like to expand his line of reasoning to more practical solutions.

Integrity is defined by the online Webster dictionary as:

1. firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values - incorruptibility

2. an unimpaired condition - soundness

3. the quality or state of being complete or undivided - completeness.

The problem with Malaysian society today is the same with every developing democratic society:

How do people of "different" mindsets/values live together in a peaceful and productive environment so that the best in their human potential is allowed to grow?

To the ultra-nationalist, he sees himself to be the epitome of integrity and is usually blind to his own bigotry. Same thing with the facist, the religious extremist, etc. They are locked within their own world views and think that those who don't share their views are the ones who ought to deserve less in life.

For Malaysia to move forward to have a civil and useful dialogue among people of different faiths & values, we need 4 things to happen:

1. Good and honest leaders to serve the best interest of the people, not by appealing to their worst fears/weaknesses. (Malaysia's score card: 6/10).

2. A sound, independent media that provides a platform for discussion and intellectual debate. (score: 5/10 - the average ranking is boosted by the relative free access to the Internet media, without which the media score falls to 3/10).

3. An independent and effective judiciary that ensures the government and its branches are doing their job honestly and efficiently. (score: 3/10).

4. A thriving market for art & culture free from religious/political sanctions so that artists can express their thoughts and visions of the individual and his role in the world. A healthy and world class art culture paves the way for freedom of intellectual discourse. (score: 7/10).

Are we asking too much of Malaysia with a population of 28 mil people?

I think not. Either we aspire to greatness or remain on the slippery slope of mediocrity, sliding eventually to become the victim to corrupt leaders, dictators, madmen and the mob. (e.g. Thailand, Greece & Burma today).

P.S. Ok. I may be taken to task for comparing Malaysia to Greece, but incidentally, Malaysia's public debt/GDP ratio is 53.7%, which is comparable to Spain (54%) and Ireland (64%), members of the infamous P.I.I.G.S European nations that are causing a potential meltdown in global financial markets. And we can't depend ultimately on the nation's oil reserves to bail the economy out of trouble and assume that oil prices will remain high forever.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The good thing about the current tough global financial climate is that it will force aspiring democratic countries to engage in tough reforms - economic and social - to strengthen their political legitimacy.

The flip side of the coin is that people are generally less inclined to change their attitudes during tough economic conditions.

But change has to come, either through persuasion by good honest leaders or by the tsunami of the ballot box, which can prove perilous in the short term.

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