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Patriotism and you
Published on: Sunday, October 01, 2017

By Datuk John Lo
President Theodore Roosevelt was the American President best known and respected for having initiated the “New Deal” for the average and less fortunate Americans.

He was the 1st conservation President by designating 150 million acres for conservation.

His approach to nation building was from individuals upwards by empowering ordinary working and small business Americans to be more productive, to enjoy more income. He never asked the American people to be loyal or “sacrifice” for him – only for the country.

Roosevelt can be said to have laid the foundation of the “American golden era” that has lasted up to now.

His idea of patriotism is, to me, the best. Please allow me to give comments on his statement in the context of present day Malaysian politics.

“Patriotism means to stand by the country.”

Patriotism to country does not mean patriotism to the Prime Minister, elected officials, politicians or political parties in government or opposition. As voters, you have an absolute right to shift your loyalty any time to whoever you think is best for you, your family and Malaysia.

Elected officials or opposition leaders are meant to serve the people and country.

They should be loyal to you and not you be loyal to them. But your loyalty for the Agong must never change for His Majesty personifies and symbolises Malaysia as a country.

All Malaysian citizens are expected and must stand by the Malaysian flag, Agong and country at all times, especially when it is under obvious or implicit physical or economic threats from internal or external sources.

These exclude issues on governance and exposure of misdeeds and corruption.

All Malaysian citizens must transcend politics and rally round to support our country by whatever means we can master in facing these threats.

“It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country.”

Simply put, your patriotism or loyalty for any elected politician will be misplaced if he has failed to perform to your expectation or has abused his fiduciary duties or worst, acted against the interest of Malaysia.

Many West Malaysian politicians have tried to hookwink West Malaysians by injecting the idea that patriotism to them [or their parties] is same as being patriotic to country. No, it is not the same.

Is it OK to feel loyal or patriotic towards an elected politician? Nothing wrong if he can perform to your satisfaction. You will reach your conclusion whether he deserves it by reflecting on the following questions: [a] Is he a leader for all Malaysians?

[b] Is he serving the people or enriching himself? What was his economic/financial status before and after joining politics? Can he account for his wealth?

[c] Are you concerned with the level of corruption by personalities in high places?

[d] Is Malaysia’s financial management being conducted beyond reproach?

[e] Can you have a reasonable standard of living with your income?

[f] Are you concerned with the standard of education for your children?

[g] Do you think you will have enough money for retirement?

[h] Can you afford to have decent housing for your family?

[i] Can Malaysia be managed better?

[j] Will you be better off in 5 or 10 years? [h] Is Malaysia a respected nation among nations?

[k] Is the opposition any better?

“It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country.”

Malaysian society is basically quite feudal.

Ordinary Malaysians are reluctant to oppose political leaders openly, prefer to whisper their discontents in coffeeshop, App Messages and Facebook, especially those who are recipients of “freebies”.

By and large, there is a distinct lack of concern by Malaysians, especially rural Malaysians, about the country’s future or when a political leader has failed to perform his duties diligently or had committed abuses and corruption.

This has been made worse by less-than-strident institutionalised checks and balances.

This is why there are a number of persons who have been known to have failed to perform their duties and/or have committed corruption and yet have been appointed or even reappointed to position of power and influence, or with cases against them “forgotten”.

Good examples are the immediate past Chairman of Felda and the now emerging RCI case of the BNM officer in charge of horrific multi billions forex losses. The latter case has seen the person who has admitted responsibility has been appointed to, among many senior positions including full Federal ministerial!

Patriotism means you should not allow or let any politician get away from the failures or abuses.

Be definition of Roosevelt, most Malaysians by keeping one or both eyes shut, are unpatriotic.

“In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”

This part of the quotation cannot be more succinct. Patriotism for country is above any elected official.

This is the ultimate question for Malaysians. Is your patriotism for Malaysia of sufficient strength for you to tell the truth when an elected politician has done something that is horribly wrong? Or will you try to defend the indefensible?

The political system has gone badly wrong when, by being patriotic in telling the truth, the laws of the country are applied to gag you in order to protect the abusers/corruptors. Then you must realise you are no longer the master of the country. You are in servitude or serfdom.

At present, there are too many Malaysians with a blurred definition of patriotism – not knowing where to place their patriotism or loyalty – with the country or a political leader or party.

Malaysian political system cannot improve if this is not sorted out.

Two reasons for this twisted form of patriotism:

[a] For too many years, West Malaysian political leaders in government and opposition, have been misleading West Malaysians by positioning themselves as champions on race, religion and a myriad of “rights” to secure political loyalty and support. They have dug themselves and the whole country into a big dark hole.

They have failed to imbue Malaysians with the value of hard work, savings and competitiveness, 3 virtues to guarantee economic success.

The politicians have used this tactic excessively resulting in many people mistakenly thinking that only they are their “champions/saviours”.

These people have stopped to differentiate between patriotism for Malaysia and support for a politician. No country has succeeded in economic development when elected political leaders keep on dishing out “freebies” and “rights”.

Economic miracles of South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and China have been built on hard work and sound policies – never on “freebies” and “privileges”.

I am happy that Sabahans have no issue here as our leaders, especially Tan Sri Musa Aman have always been “leaders for all Sabahans” and has managed Sabah’s finance prudently.

Patriotism in Sabah and Sarawak has been diluted for the followings reasons:

[a] Malaysia Day has not been given its importance. Even at present, September 16th is lesser than 31st August.

E Malaysians can never understand the reasons for it.

[b] Federal officers based in Sabah have little or no authority reinforced with indifference have worsened this alienation. Too often and even for minor approvals, they have to refer to KL, resulting in bulky red tapes and costly delays.

[c] The treatment from KL has been less than satisfactory for many years, especially in budget allocations and disbursements.

Worst was during PBS government. Musa since becoming Chief Minister in 2003 has made vast improvement in the Federal/Sabah relationship.

Divisive politics based on race, religion and favouritism can never build or nourish patriotism.

They can only tear Malaysia apart.

West Malaysia is in a seriously wrong political direction now. Instead of 1Malaysia, there are many little Malaysias in their own little compartmentalised worlds with many leaders playing the “kampong champions”.

West Malaysian politicians must pull the country back to the right path of economic development.

West Malaysia needs a new political direction to nurture genuine patriotism as defined by Roosevelt – then, only then, will there be a genuine, united 1 Malaysia.

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