I spent two days in Chennai, where I had the opportunity to meet Malaysians and Malaysian students in the Tamil Nadu capital.
Their concerns are also the concerns of Malaysians at home.
Firstly, there is too much obsession with the Prime Minister issue when ordinary Malaysians are more interested in whether Pakatan Harapan government could fulfil its promises of a New Malaysia of unity, freedom, justice, excellence and integrity.
They wish for Malaysia to be respected and admired by the whole world as a top world-class nation in many fields of human endeavour, whether in good governance in the battle against corruption, far-reaching education reforms in training the workforce for the digital age or in becoming a Tiger economy.
This must be the priority issue of the Harapan government and there should be a minimum of diversions from this major task of the government in Putrajaya.
I believe Malaysians can understand that it will not be possible to build a new Malaysia and to undo all the wrongs and injustices of six decades in a year or two, or even in one general election cycle, but the country must be set firmly and solidly on the trajectory of a New Malaysia!
Are we doing so?
This is why I have called for a major review of the Harapan manifesto of GE14 in view of the disappointments and disillusionment of many Malaysians that reforms and changes under the new government had not been faster or more far-reaching.
Being outside the country has also given me an opportunity to think further of the problem of Malaysian nation-building, as there is no doubt that Malaysians have become more polarised after the 14th General Election.
This is because of a klepto-theocratic alliance which misuses Islam to support thievery, corruption, intolerance, bigotry, lies and falsehoods, pitting race against race, religion against religion.
Malaysia seems to be trapped in an extraordinary situation which, if not addressed, will only lead to greater division and disunity, stagnation and a failure to leverage on the best values and qualities of the Islamic, Chinese, Indian and Western civilisations which meet in confluence in Malaysia.
This extraordinary situation is one where the Malays feel threatened, the Chinese feel threatened, the Indians feel threatened, the Kadazans feel threatened and the Ibans feel threatened.
Every community is made to believe that its culture and ethnicity is facing an existential threat.
But who is creating all these threats to all racial groups in the country?
Not only the various races feel threatened, Islam feels threatened and the non-Islamic religions feel threatened.
Who is the monster creature making all the religions in the country feel threatened?
One question all Malaysians must ask: Who is the “Other” in the Malaysian context?
Is the “Other” the Chinese and Indians to a Malay Malaysian, the Malays and Indians to a Chinese Malaysian, and the Malays and Chinese to an Indian Malaysian?
If this is the answer, then we have not yet succeeded in Malaysian nation-building, for the “Other” must be a non-Malaysian, whether from Indonesia, China or India or any other part of the world.
This is food for thought for all Malaysians. – Malaysiakini
The views expressed here are those of the author Lim Kit Siang.