Dear Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak,
My heart goes out to the families and friends of the 20 Malaysian victims of MH17 brought back from the Netherlands today. The nation mourns together with them on this day that has been declared a National Day of Mourning.
While we pay our respects and grieve over the MH17 disaster, let us also take the opportunity to remember the victims of other disasters in Malaysia.
We remember the 32 victims of the Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal bridge collapse on July 31, 1988 and also the 1,600 that were injured.
We remember the tragic collapse of Highland Towers on Dec 11, 1993 that caused the death of 48 people.
We remember the 27 passengers of the ill-fated tourist bus that crashed into a rocky slope near Cameron Highlands in the late morning of Dec 20, 2010.
We also remember the Genting Highlands bus crash near the Chin Swee Temple in the afternoon of Aug 21, 2013 that killed 37 and injured 16 others. Lest it be forgotten, it has just been a day after its first year anniversary.
And we also remember the most significant of all disasters that plague us year after year - the staggering 6,000-odd deaths that occur on our very roads.
It should be noted that the victims of these disasters did not have the focus of a National Day of Mourning.
It would not take much to carve a little attention away from MH17’s remembrance today to also remember the victims of other disasters. While MH17 remains a deep tragedy, it should not be alleviated by the fact that it happened away from home. We suffer just as much at home, if not more and the pain of the families and friends of the victims are just as real.
Let us not make this day of remembrance as another opportunity for political mileage - there are lots of other disasters that deserve the same, or at least some, amount of remembrance.