As we step into 2016, let us hope for an atmosphere of openness in Malaysia.
TODAY we go through the closing hours of the year. It is a time to reminisce on the events of 2015 and to contemplate the days ahead.
Our country is a Constitutional monarchy, but is otherwise a democracy governed by the Federal Constitution.
Malaysia is made up of different and diverse races — although the demographics are changing somewhat — and the Constitution declares that it is the supreme law of the land.
Within its framework, it provides for Islam to be the religion of the country, freedom to profess other religions by others, and fundamental liberties for citizens.
And then there are special privileges for the Malays and later by extension, for the Bumiputeras. This creates a sense of a divide because in some aspects, we are one country with perhaps two systems. However, this has been accepted by the people and the provisions are all well entrenched in the Constitution and are duly implemented.
There are also provisions on the position of the Rulers, Malay as the official language, and citizenship. With very rare exceptions, the people revere the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Sultans, and laws are in place to ensure that certain subjects deemed sensitive are not even touched upon.
People of different races, religions and cultures have lived in this country peacefully and harmoniously. There has been the rare occasion when the country saw a black day but the people have moved on.
The law only provides the framework within which the country operates and the life of the people is regulated.
Theoretically, the people decide, but in reality, the power to make laws is in the hands of the legislators.
We justifiably feel proud of the wonderful infrastructure and facilities that wow the foreign visitors who land at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and find their transfer from there to the city a breeze. However, what lies ahead for the ordinary individual?
We get a wakeup call when we venture outside the country. A burger that costs RM3 at a roadside stall back home could cost £3 in an ordinary outlet in London. That is equivalent to RM18 or more!
by BHAG SINGH.