Looking back at 2023

Mustafa K. Anuar

Ordinary Malaysians are hoping that the relatively stable political condition in the country will enable the unity government to focus on growing the economy. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, January 3, 2024.

Commentary by Mustafa K. Anuar

THE new year offers a glimmer of hope for some and continuing misery for others.

Malaysians generally are hoping that the relatively stable political condition in the country would enable the unity government to focus on growing the economy and, in turn, help the common people, particularly the needy and the B40, to improve their living standards.

Some of these people are finding it difficult to make ends meet, particularly under the weight of increasing living costs, as well as global economic and political concerns. 

They get short-changed when certain producers maintain the prices of certain products only to cut down on their size or weight.

Financial and material assistance from the government would obviously help tide them over. Such are the hardships that they are facing.

That is why these ordinary people are not amused by the alleged recent move to hatch a plot to oust the sitting government, which would only cause many politicians to be distracted from doing what is urgently needed, which is to help revive the economy and at the same time address the issue of hardcore poverty, among other important things.

And there are people who are still hopeful that the government would make good its promises of political and social reforms that were offered at the hustings in the last general election. 

For instance, certain laws, which have restricted our freedoms of expression and to access information, require repealing or reviewing. These range from the Official Secrets Act 1972 to the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

They also look forward to the revival of the much-awaited local government elections, which are to enable local communities elect politicians who are accountable to them. This is vital democracy at the local level.

At present, members of local councils are appointed by the parties concerned.

But for others, 2024 is a mere change of calendar, highlighting their plight and trauma of yesteryear that have spilled over the supposedly new year. There is clearly no clean slate.

The “stateless” children are living in limbo, not knowing whether they would eventually be categorised as Malaysian. Many of them, who have no rights as their Malaysian counterparts, have been in such a state year in and year out.

It’s been 13 years since M. Indira Gandhi last saw her youngest daughter Prasana Diksa, after her father – now named Muhammad Riduan Abdullah after his conversion to Islam – snatched her away.

Indira, although heart-wrenched, remains hopeful that she would one day be reunited with her beloved daughter. Only precious time will tell.

This is another year for the family of Teoh Beng Hock who has been waiting for justice to be served and a closure to his death. He was found dead in 2009 on the rooftop of a building adjacent to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission offices.

The new year is also a chilling reminder that things might get even worse before they can get any better.

In the international arena, the new year was ushered in by Israeli intensive bombardment of Gaza, killing more innocent civilians, including children and women.

With more than 20,000 Palestinians killed to date, the Zionist regime, abetted by the United States and its western allies, has vowed to continue its genocidal onslaught throughout this year.

This is the Zionist regime’s disproportionate military response to Hamas’ blitzkrieg attack on southern Israel on October 7.

Nothing was considered “sacred” in the Israeli relentless assault on the Gazans: human lives, dignity, houses of worship, hospitals and UN shelters.

There should be serious commitment among parties concerned to help protect human dignity and uplift people’s living conditions, as well as promote peace, justice and compassion.

It would be a travesty of justice if the new year generally remains a mere rerun of the troubled past. – January 3, 2024.

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