Monday, December 15, 2008

Third World Mentality Often Produces Third World Results

Does Malaysia still want to lay claim to having first world infrastructure despite being stuck in third world mentality, particularly after the tragedy that struck Bukit Antarabangsa two Saturdays ago?

Or isn’t it about time that the country woke up to reality and constantly challenged and raised standards in all aspects — social, economic and political?

For that to happen, the country badly needs proper political leadership.

Recall when former Works Minister Datuk S Samy Vellu got an avalanche of brickbats after he proclaimed the landslide near Genting Highlands in 1995, which claimed 21 lives, to be “an act of God”.

The Almighty’s name has not been invoked in the aftermath of the latest disaster, but at least one politician — Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Ong Ka Chuan — has proclaimed no early evidence of any human negligence.

Were adequate standards exacted out of developers as well as the local and central authorities to absolve humans of any blame?

If regulations are found wanting, standards should be made as tight as humanly possible to ensure that hillside development projects are safe, and in the event of breaches, the heftiest of penalties be imposed.

The authorities and engineers do not have to reinvent the wheel, but could learn from other jurisdictions that have proven to have successfully tackled hillside developments.

Safety must be guaranteed according to the strictest of standards at whatever cost, not only for those living on the hillslopes but also those at the foothill and surrounding areas.

There is no reason to deprive the well-to-do and not risk-averse the privilege of building their homes on hillslopes. Attacking the rich for their choices is uncouth. Making it as stringent and as costly as possible, more green lungs and catchment areas may even be saved from humanity’s destructive nature. The benefits of these will outweigh any opportunity cost.

Incidentally, the disaster claimed four fatalities comprising the country’s three major races, while a Sri Lankan maid is missing. That is no coincidence.

Politicians need to face up to the reality that the country is a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious society, where people share the same resources and the same plight.

The Gift Of Death (GOD) is colour and creed blind. Given the racial tension in recent times, the bar too needs to be raised in the country’s social agenda.

Political parties must make it the national agenda to purge racism and make anti-racism a conscious effort for everyone, as part of the protection of human rights.

How the economic agenda, specifically the National Development Policy that stipulates affirmative actions, even for well-to-do politicians, fit into this social agenda has to be meticulously worked out and proper standards applied.

Speaking of standards, most quarters have welcomed the tabling of the bills to form the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Yet, lastly but the most important is the need to bring back the Rule of Law to the country’s political structure, particularly the restoration of the principle of separation of powers. Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has said it. Former UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Param Cumaraswamy has said it.

Regardless of whatever legislation, however welcome, no meaningful independence of the judiciary can be achieved unless the original Article 121 (1) of the Federal Constitution is restored.

As it is now, the judiciary is subservient to parliament and the executive branch.That forms the basis of many aspects of people’s lives.

Many positives can be had from exuding self-confidence and beating the chest, but when reality is not what it is made out to be, it is time for further self-examination.

Third world mentality will more often than not produce third world results. Will the country rise to the challenge in raising standards, or will our social structure and existing policies continue to be stumbling blocks?

The country badly needs political leadership that will do not only the right thing, but also think out of the box in doing so.
***** If we truly want leaders who think out of the box, then the current group at the helm of Umno is absolutely the wrong lot. They are still employing four-decade-old strategy of dividing the people and ruling by exploiting fear and prejudice while actively flaming racial distrust and tension. For only in such circumstances can these opportunists thrive.

It'll take a completely different mold of politician who can rise above the mediocrity which has seized us in a deadly stranglehold, to lead us out of the quagmire. An Obama-like figure emerging onto our political landcape now would be extremely useful. But alas.


Blogger The Malaysian Explorer said...

[quote]The country badly needs political leadership that will do not only the right thing, but also think out of the box in doing so.[/quote]

A strong yeah to that!!

The Malaysian Explorer

4:35 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OKC must be totally blind to say that it's not human error. Cutting down natural slope, poor drainage, shoddy construction, bad planning, trees up-rooted are not human undoing? Just because he's an idiot, he thinks every one is. Let's face it, if not for his brother he'll probably be hawking DVDs in Petaling street.

9:00 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous OhThoseJerks said...

Blinding idiots for leaders keep saying "act of god". It's "act of assholes" that caused this tragedy!!!

8:50 PM GMT+8  

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