Tuesday, October 2, 2012

20s and 30s, You are the Shareholders of Malaysia!

Part I: Ownership by Share 

Malaysians in 20s and 30s made up of the biggest chunk of the adult population (productive forces) in Malaysia. See chart below for the red and orange bars. If Malaysia is a company, we are the biggest shareholders! As the biggest shareholders of the country, we are supposed to have the biggest voice on how our country is managed and we are also supposed to be the biggest receivers of the wealth of the nation. 

However, do we behave like legitimate shareholders or quiet stakeholders? The reason why we are not receiving the benefits of the shareholders is simply because we have not been doing our part as shareholders. 

Out of the 3.3 millions of unregistered voters, about 3 millions (>90%) are young Malaysians. A rough look at the political parties you'll soon find that majority of the party members are not of our age. So as of now, we are not doing a good job as shareholders.  

Nevertheless, I am still a strong believer of youth power. With Malaysia demography, if the young people want to come together to do something, we may not have the money and experience, but we have the numbers, energy and creativity! The question is whether we'll rise up and take ownership of this land. Or we just want to "tumpang" this place and let others to decide the future for us? 

Source: Data taken from Population and Housing Census of Malaysia, 2010

Part II: Real Owners Face the Challenges

Malaysia is at the crossroad. 

Our corruption index ranking has dropped from 23rd to 60th in just over 10 years, costing the country RM 1 trillion (1,000,000,000,000) in illicit money. 

Our public debt is at historic high with an average debt of RM 17,000 per person. 

Our education system is in a mess with our students ranked at the BOTTOM 30% in The Performance for International Students Assessments (PISA) study.  

Our public universities struggle each year in and out of the world top 400 league. 

Our media is tightly controlled by the the ruling government with our Press Freedom Index ranked at 122 out of 179 countries, scoring even lower than Zimbabwe, Siera Leone,  Papua New Guinea,Congo, Kyrgzstan and Cambodia, just to name a few. 

Malaysia future seems bleak. Many talented young people have left Malaysia for better future. For those of us who are here, the last thing we should do is to sit-back with a "que sera sera, whatever will be will be" mindset. 

No real change can happen without the participation of the biggest chunk of the productive force, the 20s and the 30s! Like it or not, we are the ones that are going to 'suffer' the consequences of inaction in this history turning point. Another 10 years of procrastination will push Malaysia to a point of no return. 

"We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. Procrastination is the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity."   (Martin Luther King, The Urgency of Now)

The good news is, if we do pull ourselves together and act now, we'll also 'enjoy' the most the fruits of our labour today. So young people, hesitate not, act now! 

Part III: Your Choice: Hakuna Matata or the Real Lion King? 

As I am writing this, I am reminded of The Lion King, a famous Disney cartoon in my younger days. 

Our generation is just like Simba. We have been robbed from our inheritance and identity by the bad guy. Yet there are people around us, just like Timon and Pumbaa, with all good intention, telling us of "Hakuna Matata" -  the problem-free philosophy, the "don't worry, be happy" philosophy, the "let it be" philosophy. Remember the nice song?

For years, Simba lived under the illusion that he was living in a perfect world. He enjoyed lives, singing and dancing in the woods, forgetting his real identity. 

After he became an adult lion, a few incidents made him realized that because of his absence in his position, his people were suffering. He then took the courage and live-up to what a lion king should be. At the end, Simba managed to restore peace and prosperity to his land and leave a good legacy to his future generation. 

Do we want to continue to live-in our "Hakuna Matata" world or live-up to the calling and authority of our generation as the biggest shareholders of the nation? Do we want to continue to  let the bad guys to ruin our land or take ownership and work all out to leave a good legacy for our future generation? The choice is ours. 

Yes, this is not a Disney cartoon world, there is no fairy tale here. I too fear that I may be labour in vain. However, failure is not the worst thing in the world, the very worst is not to try. To quote Denis Waitley, "Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end." 

So whatever we do in this generation, whether we are labeled as a failure or success, we have sow the seed, it is actually a step closure to a better Malaysia. With that, I'll consider my life a life well-lived. 

Part IV: What should we do? 

So, you may ask, what exactly can I do to bring change? Here are some of the things that I can think of:-

1. No matter what, don't give up on Malaysia. Crossing the sea to work in Singapore or migrating to Australia are now much easier than ever. Don't follow the crowd, stay here and build the country.

2. Excel in whatever you do, make sure you can be the decision makers in the future. 

3. Commit a few hours a week on average to take an active role in the components of Malaysia democracy, such as media-related works, human right groups, NGOs and political parties. The reason why we need to do this and do this deliberately is to build a matured democracy so that there will be a balanced of power in the future - so that the ruling government of the day is well-checked with the presence of competitive opposition, watchdog groups and strong media. 

At this point of time in Malaysia, I believe that political involvement is the most effective way to bring change. No, I am not suggesting you to be a politician, unless you really want to be one. Joining a political party and being active in a particular branch (attend meeting and volunteer in events) will make sure that the politicians from the party branch are well-checked and only the good ones get the support to stand for candidacy or the party leadership. A democracy is of no use without good politicians to debate over the policies. By the way, words of advice when you join political party, no party is perfect, and always remember this, we need to be in the system to change the system. So don't give up easily. 

Friends, the journey ahead maybe tough, but I am sure of this, if we the young people act together and persevere on, we will bring Malaysia to a higher ground in just one generation. We shall see the fruits in due time. 

And now, let's work hard for it.