Aspirations of founding fathers still not achieved

The man in the street thinks race relations were better 50 years ago. 

Alyaa Azhar, FMT

After 56 years of independence, most are of the opinion that the aspirations of our founding fathers for a free, democratic, equal and independent Malaysia have not been achieved.

Mohamad Selan Nasution, 78, who used to work in the private sector, said race relations were good for a couple of years after independence but not any more now because of polarisation.

“Also, the concept of democracy has deviated. If I were to go against the government, that does not make me a traitor because governments change hands,” he said.

He said the spirit of merdeka had not been achieved.

“When I went to Indonesia, speaking to a Chinese Indonesian, he was proud to identify himself as Indonesian and not Chinese.

“Do we have that here? Even the Chinese there speak fluent Indonesian,” he said.

He added that the current society was not cohesive in nature.

“For example, when people witness a robbery, most of them do nothing about it,” he said.

Mohamad Selan also admitted that there was no social justice in the country.

“That’s the reason why the Chinese leave. When they apply for government jobs, they do not get it. So they start their own businesses.

“And then the Chinese ask, do we steal from the Malays? I do not think so, because they accumulated their wealth through their own efforts, so I do not see anything wrong with that,” he said.

Former teacher Fatimah Yusop, 69, said in terms of equality, the nation was still far off.

“Even bumiputera rights benefit a portion of them and not all,” she said.

She, however, admitted that people were freely expressing their views now.

“This is due to the influence of the internet because people cannot speak so freely in the mainstream media.

“In terms of democracy, we are almost there because the number of opposition representatives in Parliament has increased,” she said.

Do away with vernacular schools

She, however, criticised the attempts to muzzle the independence of these groups through the use of government machinery.

“We can only call ourselves a true democracy once the opposition forms the government at least once.

“Also, we should have truly national schools. How can we reach the aspirations of our founding fathers when we still have vernacular schools? she asked.

She added that although the United States was a big melting pot it only had one type of school.

Joseph Yeow, 73, said there was still a lot that needed to be done in achieving the aspirations of our founding fathers.

“Before independence, we were united. However, after 50 years, it is sad because everything has gone on racial lines.

“We should not be divided. Because back then, we went to each other’s houses and eating together was fine,” said Yeow, who used to work in the mining and rubber sector.

He, however, admitted that the country had made progress economically.

“After 50 years if there is no progress, then something is wrong somewhere. Also, our unemployment rate is low compared with the US. So we are not doing badly,” he said.

But Yeow lamented on the lack of equality among the races.

“Everyone should get equal rights and things should be based on merit. If someone is hardworking, then he should get what he deserves.

“I am a sixth generation Chinese, why can’t I get equal rights?” he asked, citing the bumiputera special rights.

He added that Malaysia should progress as one nation.

“It is my aspiration and it would be the happiest day for me to have a Malaysia for Malaysians, and one Malaysian race.

“I hope that one day, we can have one happy Malaysian nation. I would like to see that before I die,” he said.

Yeow also was of the opinion that it was up to the country’s leaders for that to happen.

“It is up to the top people if they want a peaceful nation. We are normal citizens, there is not much that we can do,” he said, although admitting that the Prime Minister (Najib Tun Razak) has been trying his best.