Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Independence & Nationalism

Between the 31st August and the 16th September, Malaysia have more than two weeks to contemplate what this so-called independence of ours means. Whose independence, who should have the upper hand - or are these entirely silly questions.

Independence is a claim on self-government by all the people in a certain geographical area. This is as opposed to the government of the local area by some foreign powers such as the UK or Japan, or Holland, France, US or China. Independence is the government of the local people by the local people, in the best way they see fit.

The 31st August is significant because some 57 years ago the UK government had graciously agreed to allow the local people of Malaya to determine their own destiny. The 16th September is significant because some 51 years ago, the UK government has graciously agreed to allow the local peoples of the now three entities of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to govern themselves and form a federation called Malaysia.

This idea of Malaysia was then as advanced as we have today of the idea of the European Union. The EU is a union at several levels. First, is the monetary union which uses the Euro among all EU members, except the UK. We have this in the ringgit. Second, there is the customs union where there are practically no barrier to trade among EU members. There is no barrier to trade among Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak. Third is the removal of barriers to intra-EU migration. This is now a big problem among EU member states where weakness in the control of non-EU immigration in a remote corner of the EU can cause havoc in other member states. There is now a growing call among EU member states to review this feature. What is meant as good solution to unemployment in some states and high wages in others - which it still is - is now a contentious issue in individual EU-member sovereign nations. The tendency to look at the good side while underestimating the problems is a major problem when sovereign states come together to create a larger economic bloc, often at the expense of politics.

The idea that Sabah and Sarawak can come together with Malaya is form a bigger bloc - ostensibly to fight a potential neighbourly military threat - is now being increasingly questioned by the educated group as to the implications on the economics as well as culture and religion.Independence does not appear, to them, to be a case for self-governance by the local peoples but the dominance of the majority on the large minorities in all spheres of life - politics, economics, religion, culture - the name of nationalism.

The real problem is, of course, the drive towards monoculture as the saving grace for nationalism masquerading as unity. This is a dubious proposition. Unity is always about cohesion, not uniformity. The constant struggle for survival and betterment is the driving force for the national strength - on as level a playing field as any humans can provide for their fellow human beings. It is not about complete domination of oneself over others, not the complete annihilation of others. It is the varying quality of the fertility of the ground that will define the structure of economic activities and social practices and general sense of well-being of different sections of society.

Taken to extreme, the inflictions of pain and death on others seem to be the way to new ways of life through bloody revolutions in some parts of the world, enabled no doubt by the arms industries of dysfunctional economies. Extreme ideology is an extremely potent and dangerous stuff.

The response to extremism is not extremism - no matter how righteous - but alertness by being always alert and to be ready to respond to counteract whenever there is a need to. In this, we need discipline and training and expertise. We do not have anymore the luxury to allow incompetence to take leadership position and leading all critical parts of the economy and society into disarray. We have got to wake up if this independence of ours is to have any value to us who live in this great nation.

1 comment:

walla said...

MAS was a good example how we tried to be independent and nationalistic. Today it is completely dependent on debt shifting while carrying a national brand with as much value as the other glc, Proton.

Common to all of them are the usual factors: monoracial management, political interference, financial imprudence, weak operational focus, no accelerative resources, and coconut shell vision.

Applied to the nation as a whole, these are the same factors that have sunk any sense of nationalism today.

We must be one of the few countries where the government can remind everyone about nationalism one day and then proceed to defend it three hundred and sixty four days thereafter for one race only and on the twisted presumption that without so doing that race will lose its power.

But if MAS, Proton and the others are anything to go by for having power for so long - whether political or economic - one no longer wonders whether such a government is just twisting reality and cooking reasons after the facts in order to hold onto power for its politicians who by omission and commission are the very cause of the problems that beset the people.

The situation before us is clear: there are basically three layers. One, a government that causes the problems and tries to save its own skin. Two, an educated middle class that has seen how the world works and laments all the nonsense that is stacked against all citizens to catch up. And three, a society split by the invidiously locked mindset of the preferred race.

That mindset says this:

If you are doing as badly as me, then we can talk; if you do better than me, then i have to be wary of you and it is my birthright to be envious of you unless you cooperate for me to make a fast buck out of you.

With this, how can any nationalism take root because the others are constantly reminded of all the base human longkang emotions that are the cause of where we are today?

We have gone backwards until even some of the enlightened have to pretend they believe in nationalism and independence.

What we seek is not utopia but good sense, fair play and progressive right-minded actions.

What we have been getting are double standards, official persecution and prosecution, and the interplay of racism and religious bigotry, furthermore under the umbrella of what should be a more enlightened blue blood.

Independence? Nationalism? Where today? Really, where?