The futility of collective values

OCTOBER 19 — The first article put forward the idea that all Malaysians should be collectively responsible for the success and shortcomings of Malaysia. The second article attempted to investigate what these success and failure could be. 

It concluded that as Malaysians differ significantly on their core values, they have different aspirations and have different mental models in determining what are Malaysia’s successes and shortcomings. 

Wawasan 2020 had prescribed a set of values (and characteristics) that Malaysia and Malaysians should attain to overcome the nine challenges that Malaysia faces

It is worth noting that diametrically opposed values also exist in Malaysia.  

unity — discord/fragmented
mature — immature
democratic — undemocratic/authoritarian
moral — immoral
ethical — unethical
liberal — illiberal
tolerant — intolerant
scientific — anti-science
progressive — conservative
just — unjust
fair — unfair
equitable — inequitable
competitive — non-competitive
dynamic — lethargic/moribund
resilient — weak/inflexible

Given that these diametrically opposed values are held by Malaysians; and that the actual meanings of these values remain unsettled; and there is no definitive agreement on which of these values are “good” or “bad”; how then do Malaysians begin to explore and identify their collective values: set of values that all Malaysians aspires too.  

The second article recognised that successive generations of Malaysians have worked towards a set of collective values. One could also argue that the Rukunegara was a set of collective values for Malaysians to aspire too; as were Wawasan 2020, Islam Hadhari and now 1Malaysia.  

It should be obvious by now — just looking at what is happening in the country — that attempting to prescribe a set of “collective values” for the nation is futile (If you are not convinced see article two for the diverging values that Malaysians hold). 

A more efficacious solution would be if there were a set of meta-values that all Malaysians ascribe too. These meta-values then create the “conditions to and for dialogue” among Malaysians with fundamentally differing values. 

The next article discusses these meta-values.   

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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