Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Why We Need Real Change

Written by johnleemk on 4:07:09 am Sep 10, 2007.
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It is often tempting to think that we've gotten a lot of things right with Malaysia — that all we need to do is put the finishing touches on our country.

The opposition can sound radical when it asks for change, deep and real change. It sounds like an unnecessary luxury — hasn't the present pace of change served the country well enough?

Of course, we all have different opinions on change. Some people hate change; some people embrace it. Some people think change is necessary to survive; others believe that we must avoid any change at all costs.

I think the latter group's position is indefensible. Obviously we should avoid change just for the sake of it, but what we do must evolve with changing times; what was acceptable then may not be tolerable now, and what was practical then may not be feasible at all today.

We know a lot of things have changed in the past one or two decades alone. Globalisation, the internet, and so on — must I elaborate?

Why would the same policies that served 1957 Malaysia (or Malaya, if you will) be effective in 2007? It is very obvious that some change is necessary to survive.

And what change have we got? When my father graduated in the early 1980s, he returned to work in Malaysia as an engineer. One of his first projects was a particular road in Kuala Lumpur. Over 25 years later, they were still at work on that same road. That's the pace of change in this country.

Of course, we can point to some changes — every budget, every five-year plan is different in some way. But all of these tinker around the edges of the same rotten policies which might conceivably have been of use then, but are not helpful now.

Just one example — the New Economic Policy was officially discontinued in 1990. But as the UMNO-owned newspaper the New Straits Times recently confessed, the NEP remains with us under different names — one of the most controversial and far-reaching policies has not been altered, save for minor tinkering, for almost forty years!

The easiest way to tell whether there has been real and meaningful change is to look at what people complain about. If there has been change, then they will be whining about different things.

But that's not what's happened. It's incredibly easy to see how the things we bitch about are the things we were bitching about decades ago. Nothing has changed!

Some people say "Yes, things are not all right with Malaysia, but don't worry and be happy — we'll get there eventually." The problem with this view is that it assumes the present regime is capable of getting us there.

I don't think that is so. It is not opinion but a fact that this opinion has been completely useless when it comes to effecting real change. That is what we need — a government that will change things for the better.


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Infernal Ramblings is a Malaysian website focusing on current events and sociopolitical issues. Its articles run the gamut from economics to society to education.

Infernal Ramblings is run by John Lee. For more, see the About section. If you have any questions or comments, do drop him a line.


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