We are about to celebrate 48 years of running our own country. In Chinese, this is a very auspicious number. It speaks of propelled prosperity towards the future. In 48 years, there is no doubt we Malaysians have become more sophisticated and matured.
We have entered the international scene and created world-class businesses. There are, however, areas of our life which have lagged behind in stunted growth.
For example after 48 years, we are still debating the need for the NEP. Surely, in all honesty, there must be a better way to train young bumiputeras to becoming successful entrepreneurs and honest leaders.
With Umno Youth's call to revive the NEP, the Barisan Nasional government is admitting that after 48 years, it has failed to achieve its objectives. Indeed, today we have many successful, high-profile bumiputeras living in humongous houses and driving luxury cars.
This is perhaps a good sign of a successful NEP. How well is this wealth distributed among ordinary bumiputeras is another question to be answered.
The second item which is definitely not a bragging point among Malaysians is the deteriorating level of integrity and honesty that was such a positive aspect of our Malaysian culture. Civil servants refused to do special favours or to use their positions to benefit themselves.
But in a recent survey among Malaysian students, more than 30 percent say they would bribe or cheat to get what they want. That is a shocking revelation. If anyone was to do business in Malaysia today, be prepared to dish out dosh to line somebody's pockets.
This problem is now endemic and no matter what our dear prime minister does, it will be a token effort because he is quite the lone ranger.
The third area is that after 48 years, we still cannot boast of a democracy where credible opposition is not trampled and allowed every opportunity to be the next government. To see this happen, we need free and independent press, rule of law and the abolishment of the Internal Security Act which has been used in the past to stifle dissent.
We need to stop pretending that we live in a democracy when so many irregularities occur during general elections and campaigning with even the Election Commission chief admitting them.