Malaysiakini Letter

Don’t let your heart be stolen


LETTER | I sense that many ordinary Malaysians are tired with the current state of politics in our country. We feel frustrated by the seemingly slow pace of reform and the discord within Pakatan Harapan. 

Some are so disenchanted that they have given their heart to a fallen leader, the person behind the greatest kleptocracy in the world. People outside Malaysia would be amazed, but it's happening within our beloved country.

There’s a war going on out there in social media, a fierce war to win our hearts and minds. We’re overwhelmed every day by accusations hurled this way and that, accusations that we, the rakyat, have little way of verifying the truth. Caught in the confusion of this heavy crossfire, we need to adopt some strategies to stay sane and do the right thing for the sake of our country.

With the help of public relations experts, even disgraced politicians can find their way into our hearts, saying the things we want to hear, with the hope that we give them our support, and in the process ensure their political survival.

Beware of people who are heart stealers; we might discover that we have misplaced our trust. We must not be swayed by emotions alone. We need to use our minds to think whether a person can be trusted, especially from their track record.

Agreed, the country seems to be in disarray. We’re disappointed with the performance of ministers. We’re angry that people who stir up inter-racial hatred go unpunished. And some of us are annoyed we cannot get away with doing things we could under the previous government.

A glass is either half full or half empty. Opposition politicians want us to believe that it is completely empty! Everything is bad. But if we care to look beneath the mountains of criticisms, some of which are valid, we will see some changes for the better. You voted for change. Stay invested in that hope. Only then can we remain constructive.

Rome was not built in a day, definitely not a Rome that is being rebuilt from the massive financial ruins of 1MDB. Even Barrack Obama with his two terms couldn’t achieve much of his people-centred policies because of the roadblocks put in his path by political opponents.

Our present government has good people and, of course, a fair share of bad apples. They have two major roadblocks: financially - government coffers were emptied by the previous administration, and politically – they do not have a strong enough mandate from voters. Whilst the government fight fires, the opposition has the time and the money to keep taking potshots at it, not to mention stirring up racial discord.

Despite those challenges, we still see initiatives gradually being rolled out to rid the government of its past corrupt, undemocratic practices; and we should continue to expect that. But we should also expect hiccups along the way. Nonetheless, I honestly believe, blemishes and all, we now have a better government.

Admittedly it’s not easy to stay positive in the current political environment. Firstly, it is human nature to gloss over good news and jump at bad news. And social media delivers huge doses of negative news every day. We read it, get annoyed and immediately click to share it, in the process spreading the negativity.

If we are honest with ourselves, we may realise half the time we’re not even sure whether those are false accusations and, if true, whether it is helpful to share. Destructive views that don’t get forwarded and don’t get read has no strength. By forwarding indiscriminately, we give fuel to destructive ideas and also add to the noise in cyberspace, clouding our ability to see the truth.

We often judge the popularity of politicians or political views from the number of comments and likes in social media. It’s getting harder, though, to tell whether those are from real supporters or cyber troopers and robots, paid to create the perception of mass support. Nonetheless, I won’t be surprised if they do sway the opinion of the undiscerning masses.

Perhaps when the strident voices of discord, deception and unreason get loud, we should do our bit by contributing comments that unite, that debunk falsehood and that help others think more rationally. Needless to say, we need to avoid inflammatory language.

Our country needs us, each and every one of us. Let every one of us do something for a better Malaysia.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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