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LETTER | Tired of being divided by religion and politics

LETTER | Is it my destiny as a Malaysian that I will live and die in a country in which political masters have constantly and maliciously used race and religion to divide us?

I love this country and I have served it proudly. It has given me a good rice bowl - my children and I both came up through the system and qualified in medicine.

But we also want to leave something worthwhile for future generations to come. You can call me a Tamil or call me a Penangite but at heart, I am Malaysian first.

After more than 30 years of service, I still want to keep contributing but I am disappointed by the toxic political and religious scene in Malaysia.

Though the citizens are working hard during this difficult and depressing times when the pandemic affecting the world and our nation badly, many leaders don't seem to be worried or care about what the public thinks.

They appear to be just fighting for their positions while the country slides down and the majority of citizens are struggling to get rice bowl on the table.

Indeed, instead of striding forward, Malaysia is going in circles because of divide and rule political strategies.

I would like to bring two scenarios over the last few years to show how these situations are being used by politicians.

Remember the Low Yat brawl in July 2015? Somehow the alleged theft of a smartphone quickly became about race - with politicians on both sides lining up to score points and look like ethnic champions.

Why can't the issue be about petty crime or the urban poor in Malaysia? Isn't that a better way of looking at it?

This incident could have been diffused simply by police as it involved a petty crime and the elephant in the room is urban poverty in Malaysia for the politicians to solve.

However, this incident was blown out of proportion by our politicians who added fuel instead of suppressing the fire of anger.

The second incident at the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in November 2018 had far more tragic consequences. It is a situation that involved a land dispute between two parties which could have been resolved amicably if they came to the table to talk.

However, this was blown out of proportion and eventually became a communal clash. In the midst of this - emergency responder Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim lost his life.

There's still finger-pointing and counter-narratives about this but what matters most is this - an innocent man lost his life over a building because people played up religious sentiments.

This is the great underlying tension bubbling under the surface that is used time and time again for power - but they are playing with fire.

Surely a leader must work for better living for the citizens rather than otherwise.

As a surgeon, I spent a lifetime in government service when there was more money to be made in the private sector, but I wished to do the right thing.

However, what we can observe the politicians are fighting for lucrative posts at government-linked companies instead of addressing issues like that of Veveonah Mosibin, the village girl who was struggling to study with poor internet connectivity or to help musicians earn their livelihood.

It is further shocking to realise that even after toppling governments here and there, they are ever ready for an election to strengthen their position in this difficult time.

To add salt to the wound, some so-called religious leaders or scholars come up with controversial and inflammatory statements on the religions of others.

To me as a working-class citizen who envisions a better Malaysia for all, I am thoroughly disillusioned by the politicians and religious individuals running the country currently.

Sadly, this contrasts with the many good Malaysians I know who work together without looking at our roots as a cause for conflict or competition.

At my own hospital, we all came together as a team to help fight Covid-19. There's no counting or measuring worth based on colour or creed. We are Malaysians, we are humans fighting a deadly disease.

There are also so many good Samaritans out there and I am happy to say that they are colour blind - making donations to fellow Malaysians in need.

Though many who have lost hope of this country have migrated for greener pasture, I still have a hope and a dream that this country of mine will one day have leaders who care about what the citizens need.

Unfortunately, so far, those are few and far between.

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