I've been reading a lot about how the country has turned ugly with hatred, racism and bigotry raising its collective ugly heads. Maybe it's true, but I feel that these people and their views have been around for quite some time, a very long time, and they will continue to have their say in the future.
The reason we feel their threat now is that their voices have been amplified by social media and the Internet, with issues going viral fast. Those who read have the impression that they represent more people than they actually do.
There is another, equally damaging school of thought trying to convince people that the country is falling apart. This is far from the truth. Malaysia has its fair share of problems, but we are not falling apart. Other countries also have their problems, some way bigger than us.
The economy is growing reasonably well and asset prices have been rising steadily. Yes, it's heading towards bubble territory but this is true in other growing Asian cities as well. Long term rising asset prices is not a feature of a country falling apart.
Some people have been squeezed by rising prices, but this is not a country specific phenomenon. The main cause is the quantitative easing and loose monetary policy advocated by the US Federal Reserve. We need to be careful in trying to stem this, because the wrong move could cause recession and/or deflation, which is worse than rising prices.
Many people have been complaining about public services. Again there are weaknesses and surely a lot can improve. While bad examples are plenty, there are also areas where services are good, and many which are just plain average. But falling apart it isn't.
I've been using the public health system for the last few years, after exclusively using private healthcare for so long, and find it quite satisfactory. There will always be issues and complaints but you can say the same for private healthcare (which is why I started using certain public services in the first place).
My kids go to public school and believe it or not they are doing ok. There are so many areas that can be improved in education, mainly due to bad policy and flip-flopping but the situation is not hopeless. There are still good teachers and if you are willing to learn you can easily do well.
Furthermore, in terms of social work, there are a lot of good young volunteers helping other people, in the city streets, in the shelters and in the rural areas. One minister saying that we should stop helping does not represent the country, he only represents himself (and maybe DBKL).
We have many, many good people, far more than the shrill voices. People from different backgrounds interact with each other and help each other every day, just that these things are not newsworthy and don't get highlighted.
While it is sometimes good to highlight the bad news about the country, I don't pay attention people who post exclusively negative things and have nothing positive to highlight. Sometimes they don't realise it but that is exactly what they do and there are many of them around.
We have been in worse situations before, and will continue to face this challenge of uniting the nation in the future. We are different, and have different beliefs and ways of doing things, so differences will surely arise. But we can always engage each other on certain principles we share.
I love this country and have set my roots here. My ancestors came from diverse places. Only one branch is from the Peninsula, two families came from Punjab and one from Java. My wife's came from China. Me and my family identify this country as our homeland.
Many people I know and interact with are good people who contribute to the nation. There are so many positive things that they do. However as I mentioned previously, these are ordinary things which are not newsworthy.
To me our politicians are a source of endless frustration. However, politicians are a very small minority of the people, and when you combine them with all the zealots, bigots, racists and other extremists, you will find that they still make up a small portion of society.
Unfortunately some of them have influence and their voices are given airtime and news space, so it gives the impression that the country is full of extreme views.
For me, it's just a waste of time to give too much attention to these people. Even those who are too negative should not be entertained. Focus on the good people and we can always do our part on the ground, in our daily interaction with people. This is much better than spreading the negativity and feeding the spiral of hate.
The country will see good times and bad times, and face many challenges in the future. We will also always have many people who unite and some people who divide. Which category are you?
Whatever happens, Malaysia is still beautiful in my eyes. We can always make it better. May peace be upon us.
Note: I want us to change for the better and voted for change, but will not undermine the country to achieve it and will not feed overly negative impressions. I feel that a sense of balance in our judgement is very important.