Merdeka, in the midst of a pandemic

MERDEKA!

On the 31st of August 2021, Malaysia will celebrate 64 years of independence. Over the last two years, the usual fanfare associated with the occasion (among others) has been replaced with quieter celebrations at home under what seems to be a perpetual state of lockdown.

Like the rest of the world, Malaysia is at war with an invisible enemy. New, more infectious variants of COVID-19 have spurred the rise in infections and a slowing down of our economic sectors. Amid the crisis, some businesses have adapted to the “new” normal.

We at PEMANDU Associates took on the challenge to do our work virtually and also develop what would eventually become one of the world’s most comprehensive indexes on COVID-19: the GCI (Global COVID-19 Index), for which we have received recognition from the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA).

However, for some, pivoting may not be enough. Every day that this pandemic drags on, more jobs and lives are lost. Thankfully, the nation’s efforts to rapidly administer vaccinations have put us amongst the fastest in the world over the past few months. We are now on track to deliver first doses to more than 80% of the adult population, and will have potentially 60% fully vaccinated by Merdeka day. I have the utmost respect for all our medical frontliners who have been fighting an endless battle for more than a year now. I certainly believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Despite this, we have seen many tales of woe from the everyday Malaysian. There have been desperate cries for help from all walks of life, and there has been a wave of pessimism that has swept the country.

Our policy-makers are in a continuous struggle to balance out the cost of lives versus livelihoods. Needless to say, there is a definite need for an aggressive, multi-dimensional recovery programme to reinvigorate our economy.

In many ways, Malaysia will need a whole new National Transformation Programme, on a scale that will supersede the programmes of the past to overcome today’s extraordinary circumstances. Such a programme will need to look into all current and upcoming economic sectors, whilst balancing out our workforce, health system, education, security, stability and even the civil service.

Key to its success will be taking a facilitative approach with a healthy feedback loop for both the rakyat and opposition members. I am encouraged to see our newly minted Prime Minister taking steps to work with opposition members to steer our recovery plan. There is still much to be done, but I believe Malaysia has the tools and capabilities to do this.

Through all this, Malaysia unfortunately has become increasingly polarised; be it on race, religion, or even on political alignment. There have been repeated calls for change. Amid all the polarisation, there have also been calls for unity. All of our leaders, past and present, have tried in many different ways to achieve some form of unity amongst as many Malaysians as possible. But despite these efforts, polarisation continues to brew.

A few weeks ago, I read an opinion piece by Dato Sri Nazir Razak. He made a clarion call for a national reset so that we can build a better Malaysia.

In short, he argues that the system of democracy that the British left behind is insufficient to handle the complexities of Malaysia’s multi-cultural society and its unique history. He points out that our former leaders recognised this in the 1970s and set up a council of Malaysia’s best minds, National Consultative Council (NCC) to propose a slew of institutional-wide reforms to deal with the system’s shortcomings – many of which remain relevant but unimplemented till today. He goes on to postulate that the existing system will continue to prevent any of our current leaders from achieving a true reform-based agenda.

I agree with him. In many ways, he is challenging Malaysians and the Government to take a long hard look at ourselves in the mirror, and truly acknowledge the deep-rooted problems that beset our nation. Only then can we make radical changes towards a better Malaysia. Perhaps the time has come for Malaysians and the Government to do so.

To quote the words of Martin Linsky: “To survive and succeed in exercising leadership, you must work as closely with your opponents as you do with your supporters.” I believe now is a better time than ever to put these words into action.

Selamat Hari Merdeka!

The original letter was written in English and translated

MERDEKA!

Pada 31hb Ogos 2021, Malaysia akan menyambut ulangtahun kemerdekaan yang 64. Sejak dua tahun kebelakangan ini, sambutan yang biasa diadakan bagi meraikan acara tersebut (antara lain) telah digantikan dengan sambutan yang lebih santai di rumah , ini kerana perintah kawalan pergerakan yang berterusan.

Sama seperti yang dihadapi oleh seluruh dunia, Malaysia sedang berperang dengan musuh yang tidak kelihatan. Varian COVID-19 yang baru hadir dengan kadar penularan yang lebih tinggi yang mengakibatkan peningkatan kes jangkitan dan secara tidak langsung memberi kesan kepada sektor ekonomi Malaysia. Dalam kita menghadapi krisis, beberapa perusahaan telah mengambil langkah proaktif dengan mengadaptasi norma “baru”.

PEMANDU Associates turut menyahut cabaran untuk meneruskan tugas harian secara atas talian serta mengambil inisiatif membangunkan salah satu indeks COVID19 yang paling komprehensif di dunia iaitu GCI (Global COVID-19 Index), melalui GCI, PEMANDU Associates telah mendapat pengiktirafan dari Pertubuhan Kesihatan Sedunia (WHO) serta Perikatan Teknologi Maklumat dan Perkhidmatan Dunia (WITSA).

Namun, bagi sesetengah pihak, peralihan dan adaptasi kepada krisis mungkin tidak mudah dan tidak mencukupi. Selagi wabak ini tidak dapat dikawal dengan baik , lebih banyak pekerjaan dan nyawa yang hilang setiap hari. Syukurlah, usaha negara dalam pemberian vaksin adalah antara yang terpantas di dunia. Kita kini berada di landasan yang tepat untuk pemberian dos pertama kepada lebih daripada 80% populasi orang dewasa, dan berpotensi untuk mencapai 60% vaksinasi lengkap menjelang hari kemerdekaan. Saya sangat menghormati semua pekerja barisan hadapan yang telah bertungkuslumus selama lebih dari satu tahun, bagi mempertahankan sistem kesihatan negara. Saya pasti ada sinar harapan untuk kita bangkit dari krisis ini.

Walaupun begitu, kita telah melihat banyak berita sedih dikalangan rakyat Malaysia setiap hari. Terdapat tangisan , terdapat desakan untuk meneruskan kelangsungan hidup, ramai diluar sana yang memerlukan perhatian dan bantuan. Tidak dapat dinafikan Malaysia sedang di landa gelombang pesimisme.

Kita dapat lihat, penggubal dasar masih terus bergelut dalam mengimbangi kepentingan nyawa berbanding mata pencarian. Secara umumnya, dapat kita rumuskan bertapa pentingnya program pemulihan negara yang lebih agresif , lebih komprehensif bagi menyokong sistem kesihatan negara serta menghidupkan dan merancakkan semula ekonomi negara.

Dari suatu sudut, boleh saya katakan Malaysia memerlukan Program Transformasi Nasional yang baru, nafas baru yang mampu menggantikan program terdahulu untuk mengatasi krisis pandemik hari ini secara lebih efektif. Program seperti ini amat diperlukan bagi melihat semua sektor ekonomi semasa dan akan datang. Program transformasi ini juga perlu mengambil kira intervensi keatas tenaga kerja, sistem kesihatan, sistem pendidikan, kawalan keselamatan, kestabilan politik dan juga mutu perkhidmatan awam di negara kita.

Kunci kejayaan bagi proses pemulihan negara adalah dengan mengambil pendekatan fasilitatif dengan sistem maklum balas dua hala yang baik untuk rakyat dan juga anggota pembangkang. Saya menyokong usaha Perdana Menteri kita yang baru dalam mengambil pendekatan untuk bekerjasama dengan anggota pembangkang untuk menjayakan rancangan pemulihan negara. Masih banyak yang harus dilakukan, tetapi saya percaya Malaysia mempunyai keupayaan dan kemampuan untuk bangkit dari kemelut ini.

Kesan dari situasi yang mencabar ini, Malaysia menjadi semakin berpecah; sama ada pada bangsa, agama, dan juga politik. Terdapat pelbagai desakan yang menginginkan perubahan. Di tengah-tengah perbalahan pendapat, rakyat menuntut perpaduan dan kebersatuan dari semua pihak. Dari kepimpinan terdahulu sehingga kini , pelbagai usaha dilakukan untuk memberkukuhkan perpaduan negara. Tetapi di sebalik usaha ini, perbezaan pendapat terus meningkat.

Beberapa minggu yang lalu, saya membaca penulisan pendapat oleh Dato Sri Nazir Razak. Beliau menggesa perubahan dan permulaan baru agar kita dapat membangunkan Malaysia yang lebih baik.

Pendek kata, beliau berpendapat bahawa sistem demokrasi yang ditinggalkan oleh British tidak holistik dalam berhadapan dengan masyarakat berbilang kaum dan budaya di Malaysia dengan latar belakang sejarah yang unik. Beliau mengingatkan bahawa bekas pemimpin terdahulu menyedari hal ini pada tahun 1970-an dan menubuhkan sebuah Majlis Perundingan Negara (MAPEN), untuk mencadangkan sejumlah reformasi di seluruh institusi untuk menangani kekurangan sistem tadbir urus- banyak solusi yang masih relevan tetapi tidak dilaksanakan sehingga ke hari ini. Beliau juga berpendapat bahawa sistem sedia ada akan terus menghalang mana-mana pemimpin untuk mencapai agenda reformasi yang sebenar.

Saya bersetuju dengan beliau. Beliau turut meminta rakyat Malaysia dan pemerintah untuk melihat diri kita secara dengan lebih teliti. Kenali dan benar-benar mengakui kepincangan mendalam yang melanda negara kita. Barulah kita dapat melakukan perubahan radikal ke arah Malaysia yang lebih baik. Mungkin sudah tiba masanya rakyat Malaysia dan Kerajaan mendalami kemelut negara kita ini.

Untuk memetik kata-kata Martin Linsky: “Untuk bertahan dan menjayakan sesuatu kepemimpinan, kita harus bekerjasama dan berhubungan baik dengan pihak lawan sama seperti hubungan baik kita dengan penyokong.” Saya percaya sekarang adalah masa yang paling tepat untuk menerapkan kata-kata ini.

Selamat Hari Merdeka!

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ACCESS TO INFORMATION

Should you wish to receive details that we hold about you please contact us using the contact details below.

 

CONTACTING US

We welcome any queries, comments or requests you may have regarding this Privacy Policy. Please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].

 

YOUR CONSENT

By using this site, you consent to the collection and use of information as outlined above. If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes on this page so that you are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances we disclose it.