Monday, March 22, 2004

Our Evolution

Our Evolution

"Kuala Lumpur was a city on fire; I could see the conflagrations from my residence at the top fo the hill and it was a sight that I never thought I would see in my lifetime. In fact all my work to make Malaysia a happy and peaceful country through these year, and also my dream of being the happiest Prime Minister in the world, were also going up in flames."

Those words were written by our first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman in his book, "May 13 Before and After", published in 1969 after those fateful events in May.

Today KL is a modern, cosmopolitan and vibrant city; and it is difficult to imagine it being the scene of such tragedies. So much water has passed under the bridge. Are we a better nation now? Have we finally found a formula to coexist peacefully?

There are people who are disllusioned with this country; there are also many who feel themselves so fortunate to be living in Malaysia. We can choose to see Malaysia as full of faults or we can choose to count our many blessings.

If we compare ourselves with some of our neighbours, we as a country have done pretty well indeed. But still we are very demanding on our governments because we choose to measure ourselves against higher standards.

I've spent a lot of time in Indonesia studying their history and the thoughts of their founding father, Sukarno. Sukarno used to talk about the romance of revolution. Romance is characterized by passion and drama. Indonesian has indeed seen much drama in its history: so much blood was spilled in the fight for independence, the communist purge in sixties and the recent riots of 1998.

In comparison, Malaysia's history is a lot less dramatic. There has never been a revolution in Malaysia, only cautious evolutionary change. But that's alright. We want to temper youthful idealism with the caution that comes with age. Evolutions are slow and not as exciting as revolutions. But should we be complaining?

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