New Malaysia: The dream is not over

They say it all begins with a dream.

Aug 01, 2018

By Anil Netto
They say it all begins with a dream.

Indeed, long before May 9, 2018, many of us dreamed of a new Malaysia where all us would be One, a nation of unity in diversity. A nation where all of us had a place under the tropical sun.

Many worked hard to realise this dream. Many like the famous public intellectual Rustam Sani, who played a big part in formulating Vision 2020, never lived to see the dream. Still like civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King, they worked hard for a dream they knew they might never see.

There were those who struggled for independence in so many different ways. Some campaigned for workers’ rights and gender equality. Others pioneered the human rights movement and still others raised ecological awareness.

So, long before the new Malaysia was ushered in on the night of 9 May 2018, many people had dreamed of that moment.

They all had a dream.

In Acts Chapter 2, it is written: “In the last days — the Lord declares — I shall pour out my Spirit on all humanity. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young people shall see visions, your old people dream dreams.”

We, Malaysians, are blessed to be living in the here and now, a time of abundant grace and blessings poured out on the nation — a time that those before us could only dream of.

But this new Malaysia is not the end. It is a beginning. We still have a long way to go before we can realise full justice, freedom to live life to the full and solidarity with one another.

So, the dreaming should not stop. This is one old man’s dream which we should listen to:

The 79-year-old Brazilian theologian, Leonardo Boff, wrote in Portuguese a couple of weeks ago about his dream for his own troubled country. This is a rough translation:

“I dream of seeing a Brazil built from the bottom up and from the inside out, forging a popular, participatory and socio-ecological democracy, recognising Nature and Mother Earth as new citizens with rights.

“I dream of seeing the people organised in networks of movements, people with social competence to generate their own opportunities and shape their own destiny, free from dependence on the powerful and rescuing their own self-esteem.

“I dream of seeing the minimum utopia fully realised of eating at least three times a day, of living with decency, of having attended school for eight years, of attending university and postgraduate studies, of receiving a salary for work that satisfies the essential needs of the whole family, of having access to basic health and after having toiled for a lifetime, to earn a dignified pension to face serenely the ailments of old age.”
Politics, too, should be different. Boff added:

“I dream of counting on politicians who lower themselves to be equal to the eyes of the other, without arrogance, conscious of representing popular demands, making politics caring and diligent of the public interest.

“I dream of walking around at night without fear of being robbed or a victim of lost bullets, being able to enjoy the freedom of being able to speak and criticise on social networks without being victimised and defamed.

“I dream of contemplating our green forests, our immense regenerated rivers, our superb landscapes and preserved biodiversity, renewing the natural pact with Mother Earth that gives us everything, recognising her rights — and for that we treat her with veneration and care.”

Elsewhere, Boff lamented that “knowledge has been understood as power at the service of accumulation by individuals or groups that create inequalities, consequently, at the service of the prevailing unjust and inhumane system.”

Indeed that is true. Many people pursue knowledge in the hope that it will bring them either power or wealth or both — often by exploiting their fellow human beings or by degrading the ecosystem.

He suggested instead that power be put at the service of life and proposed a moratorium on research and invention. This would allow a “democratisation of the knowledge and inventions that civilisation has already accumulated, to benefit the millions and millions of dispossessed humanity.”

Boff’s dream could well apply to us. We must work harder to put power in the service of caring for the people and the ecosystem so that compassion and justice reigns.

The new Malaysian dream is not just for certain ethnic or religious groups but for all Malaysians.

But then the dream is not just for all Malaysians but for all others who live in our land — the migrant workers, the refugees, the asylum seekers, the foreign spouses and those different from us. The dream is not just for those in urban middle class — the urban poor, those in rural areas, the indigenous people in the interior and in the forests; they too have dreams.

The dreams are not just for the people who live in Malaysia — but for the entire ecosystem: the creatures who roam this land, the flora and fauna, the seas, the rivers and lakes, the jungle-clad hills and the valleys and the rainforests. In fact, we should view the new Malaysia the same way that Francis of Assisi viewed the natural world and bonded with it. For him, everything was interconnected.

It is not enough to focus narrowly on reducing the national debt or raising economic prosperity (for whom?) while glaring wealthy inequalities and exploitation (of people, of the ecosystem) persists.

And so, the dream lives on. Let’s continue to make it a reality.

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