It was an emotional night. It was May 10th, 9.30pm.
My family and I were sitting in the dark, due to a power outage just a few minutes before that. We were sweating like crazy from the heat in our living room, and the pent-up anxieties and the pumping adrenaline from waiting the whole day for this moment!
I watched the 93-year-old Tun Mahathir and his 91-year-old wife sitting next to each other in silence, waiting for the King to enter. The clock was ticking… they both looked tired, but determined. She was determined to stay by his side regardless; he was determined to lead the country again, out of the current rut.
And the moment finally came. He stood before the King and slowly read out the oath of office and the oath of secrecy. I was overwhelmed with tears in my eyes!
Two simple yet solemn vows – to perform your duties faithfully in allegiance to your country and uphold the Constitution, and to keep confidentiality of privileged information entrusted to you as the leader of this country.
Once again, I’m reminded how immense and sacred the responsibility endowed upon our country leaders. And how important it is that WE as the people choose the right leaders to take on such weight, on our behalf, to create the Malaysia that we want! Should we become care-less, we are then responsible of creating a haven for cruelty, hatred, murder, theft, corruption, lies and deceit!
Over the last 16 months, we Malaysians have been watching and witnessing a born-again independent, democratic country in-progress. Yes, our old and young leaders may not have completely lived up to our expectations. But compared to the past 60 years before, we now have a line-up of multicultural cabinet members (by race, gender, age and religion), who are really a bunch of paradox! Many received some of the best education in the world, held high-paying jobs, came from financially or politically strong families. Among them, we also have former prisoners, political detainees or “lawbreakers”, those who came from average to extremely poor families, and even born as an illegitimate citizen.
What gives me hope is that our country leaders are people who KNOW suffering – whether it be poverty, racial and gender discrimination, or social-political abuse. Among them were enemies or harsh critics of one another, for decades! In spite of all that, they show us that their love for the country supersedes any mistrust, bitterness and resentment that previously defined their interactions.
Our leaders model for us that reconciliation and restoration is possible, where there is a greater love, which inspires forgiveness, trust and faith. Our leaders model for us what Ghandi says: You must be the change you want to see! Our leaders give us a glimpse of what it means to HOLD tension with CARE.
In the end, the biggest success story from General Election 2018, I believe, is who we are and what we stand for as Malaysians. At our core, we are idealists who still believe in being good and kind to one another, regardless of everything that makes us different from one another. We learn this from young, that we belong to a multiracial, multireligious and multilingual country with a unique heterogenous “rojak-style” culture. We learn to be sensitive to people who are different from ourselves, to “bertolak-ansur” (compromise and accommodate out of care for one another). We are also spiritual people, regardless of faiths and traditions, who humbly acknowledge our human limitations and faults, and the Greater Power at work beyond ourselves.
Indeed, our country is far from attaining stability yet. The new government is still learning to work together. More days of ambiguities and chaos may follow, before we can begin to see more restructuring that can have both positive and negative effects on different people/sectors. Are we prepared to face the normal transitional stress together as a nation? Are we prepared to embrace the goodness and flaws in our changing systems, and HOLD all its tension with loving CARE?
Let’s keep praying for ourselves, our leaders and our country!
“The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better” (Richard Rohr)
If you haven’t seen the documentary “M for Malaysia” yet, enjoy the trailer here!
Article by Dr. Ng Wai Sheng