Habitual Thinking


I do respect my elders, but I have to point out how I have discovered that they have all made the way they think into a habit so much so that they reject change even when we can all see so clearly that almost everything that can be wrong in this country is wrong. 

Asher Lim 

Not long ago, I wrote an article entitled ‘I Have a Voice Too!’. It was featured on Malaysia-Today and as usual in the other articles, there were some comments. Amongst them which I found to be really interesting would be this one comment by a user, whom out of respect of his/her privacy I will not name, which goes:

Will the writer tell us what he is afraid of ? I am and have been a citizen and supporter of BN and never in my 62 years of living been living any time in fear . Students these days have learned to speak out against the establishment, kinda of the in thing for them. But when they get to middle age, and after getting married, having a few kids and earning a living, they will have reason to be afraid, but not of the Government, but of life.”

This has given me the exact introduction that I needed for the follow up to the previous article which I wrote. “Will the writer tell us what he is afraid of?” To be honest, the writer, being me, is really afraid of this in particular. The complacency of Malaysians, the infamous ‘tidak-apa’ attitude which somehow got ingrained into our Malaysian culture. Since gaining her independence and having completely eradicated the threat of communism, Malaysians has been resting on their laurels and have not really bothered anymore about the matters pertaining to our country. Somewhere along the way the spirit to rise up and speak up against oppression has been lost.

There was a time back then when it was the younger generation that rose up to take control of the future of their country, to cry out in protest of oppression and to take back that which was rightfully ours. But sadly like most men, once you’ve tasted power, you just want more of it. And with the people not keeping a watchful eye on the government and holding them accountable, slowly but surely, laws will implemented and constitutions amended to the benefit of the ruling government, making them seemingly invincible, as it has become today. It is not the government that one should fear but the sovereignty of the country, as the same it is that patriotism is loyalty to the country and not to the government, which BN seems to be confused over, by labeling every opposition supporter as being unpatriotic and as a traitor.

Now what do we have to fear? I think that it is highly unusual for a constitution to be amended as many times as Malaysia’s has been. A total of more than 700 times since gaining her independence, which was reported by Sin Chew Daily. America’s constitution being the oldest constitution in the world has only been amended a total of 23 times. If we were to compare our current constitution now to the one it was back then in 1957, we would find that it has become very much different from which Britain agreed to as they deemed it fair to the citizens of Malaysia. Some may argue that change needs to happen for a nation to move forward, but it seems like the changes are in fact causing us to slide down the ladder. Why has this happened? Simply because changes were made not for the good of the people but to benefit certain individuals at the expense of everyone else. How did it happen? It is as I said, the complacency of Malaysians thinking that the same people who won independence for us could not possibly betray us one day. They did.

The media today is mostly being controlled by the government. As much as they would like to post the truth, they can’t. However, talk to most journalists, you will find how much that what they tell you actually contradicts what they write. I am reminded of a celebrated reporter from New York during the pre-world war 2 period by the name of Paul Schaeffer who was offered the position to be an editor of the Berliner Tageblatt, but he also had a written offer from Henry Luce to be chief European correspondent for Time, Fortune and a future picture magazine (which would be Life), with a hint that he would be in line for the top job. However he took up the role as an editor of the Berliner Tageblatt. Now, Schaeffer knew exactly what the Nazis were up to and thought he could make a difference, but he could not. The Nazis exploited both him and the Berliner Tageblatt and eventually both were ‘liquidated and disappeared without a trace’ as were the words of Peter Drucker. The Malaysian media today has been thoroughly exploited that even though you would like to report the truth, you just can’t.

In another article which I am still in the process of writing, I touched a little on the habit of thinking. While making thinking itself a habit is a good thing, making the way you think into a habit is a very bad thing. Although I do respect my elders, but I have to point out how I have discovered that they have all made the way they think into a habit so much so that they reject change even when we can all see so clearly that almost everything that can be wrong in this country is wrong. The one thing that I do fear is this, that people would make the way they think into a habit, which unfortunately is in the case of our citizens, and in particular, senior citizens. I have had so many experiences with people resisting change and simply insisting on doing it their way despite it being so complicated and time consuming, just in the same way people refuse to believe that BN hasn’t been standing up for them since a very long time ago simply because they refuse to accept the new media, which is the internet. One thing that I do hope will never happen to me would be the making of my thinking pattern into a habit.

In the second section of the comment, which states: ‘Students these days have learned to speak out against the establishment, kinda of the in thing for them.’, I personally think that it is just right to do so. I don’t think it is an ‘in thing’ seeing that there really aren’t many students (in fact adults too) doing so, simply as what I wrote in ‘I Have a Voice Too!’, students and adults alike are just too afraid to speak out simply because this was the way they were brought up, and that this pattern of thinking has become a habit to them which was actually what they inherited from their parents. The challenge that is posed to us all is to actually break that pattern of thinking and to actually start looking for new ways to do things with more efficiency. The challenge is to find back the ‘pre-Merdeka’ spirit which was present in Malays, Chinese, Indians, Ibans, Kadazans, Punjabis and all the other races and tribes in Malaysia (sorry that I am not able to name them all), to speak up for their rights and to take back all that is rightfully ours.

I would also like to rectify the comment by saying that we did not learn to speak out against the establishment but discovered that we must, simply because such things are not taught in schools and parents most of the time would discourage their children from having any political involvements as is the same for me. Seeing all that is wrong but not pointing it out is a terrible thing to do. We have been really patient with BN. They have ruled this nation for 55 years and I think they’ve had more than enough time to learn how to run a country efficiently. Instead, they did just quite the opposite. Now, being perfect may not exactly be our forte, but 55 years of amassing experiences should make them wise enough, but apparently the only thing that they’ve ‘improved’ at is being stupid. Just look at the things that some of them say, what a joke it is! However in the past 5 years, states controlled by Pakatan Rakyat have blossomed and recorded a surplus. I think Pakatan Rakyat deserves a chance to take the helm and lead our country.

Back to the main point, it is first our way of thinking that has to be removed before change can come. By having an undefined thought pattern, we would be able to see thing more clearly and that we would not simply be misled. By adopting different thinking patterns, we would realise that there really is no reason to stay silent at all and to support a dysfunctional government. When the people rises up with a renewed mind, then we will have the shaking that some of us are already ready for. Ini kalilah! Ubah!