Things people do

… for the nation

In a week or so, the papers and the streets will start to be full of flags and other displays of patriotism. No kris-wielding episode I hope.

Some people are surely planning to decorate their house or car in jalur gemilang colours, while others busy publishing books and magazines or have controversial contests.

While most of us will look back and reflect of how we have grown and developed as a country in the past 50 years, I am more concerned about the next five decades. I might not be here anymore, I know, but it’s something to ponder on just the same.

In the one hand, this country has seen rapid development, in terms of economy, education and healthcare, to name a few. On the other, there are people still living without clean water supply, electricity and decent roads. For every one-million-ringgit-per-unit housing area, there are crude huts where families call home and dread the coming of strong wind or heavy rain. Then there are people working for pittance.

Working with and being in the company of people older than I am have made me feel like I am not doing enough for this country. The people I’ve met in the course of working on the book project which ended last August especially had taught me how hard so many of them had worked towards nation building and ensuring I have at least a chance at life.

At the same time, I see bad examples of leadership that could not have started from us age 30 and below. Intolerance, narrow-mindedness, bigotry – these traits seem to have flourished instead of diminished now. Even in the distinguished House of Representatives.

Profit seem to be the motive behind many social initiatives nowadays, and people who genuinely wish to serve are often overlooked. If there are no contracts to be snagged, then a project sometimes don’t even have a chance to be heard.

Why? I’m not sure if I want to hear the answer.

This past week, I’ve had conversations with friends about these things. Politics may not be a favourite subject of mine, but I had ended up talking about it on Monday night. During dinner the next evening, it was religion that my companions brought up to the table.

Talk is cheap of course. That is the easier alternative than actually doing something. I’ve tried to give back, in my own fashion, and I feel I can do more now.

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