Getting our priorities right

FEBRUARY 6 — I think it’s cute that Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) thinks that all it takes to get people to cycle... is to paint a lane blue. 

The lane cuts through the heart of KL, criss-crossing busy intersections, including pedestrian pathways.

I applaud their efforts. Truly. But perhaps they forget, that, just as it is dangerous for cyclists to cycle on busy roads, it is equally dangerous for them to cycle on a lane that resembles an obstacle course with double parked cars, pedestrians, bollards, and areas that are inadequately lit along the way.

To assume that KL motorists will respect the blue lane is being overly optimistic, given that they tend to drive on every lane that they are not supposed to. Bus lanes, emergency lanes. Even pedestrian lanes.

Getting people to cycle cannot be made at the expense of their safety. And it needs more than just painting the road blue.

Begin with the end in mind

As a nation, we aren’t good at prioritising things, are we?

If we are, getting motorists to respect pedestrian crossings, traffic lights, yellow lines, stop signs, zebra crossings should be on the top of our to do list, before introducing bicycle lanes. 

Similarly, when people protested against Octoberfest, and started smashing beer crates, I thought they had done the same for cigarettes. 

Imagine my surprise when they didn’t.

Which brings me to the priorities in the #UndiRosak movement. Which comes first, our wants? Or the nation’s needs? 

It’s good if they are aligned. But what if they are not? Assuming we put national needs first (because otherwise we wouldn’t even be discussing the issue), would that change the rationale and logic behind vote spoiling?

It must. It should. 

Because, first, national interest dictates that we choose the better leader, better party, better team to lead the nation. 

Keyword here being better. Not best or perfect. 

And second, since the election outcome is determined by everyone, whether or not they vote, and whether or not the vote is spoilt — every action or inaction on election day is a form of vote that is either for, or against a political party.

Advocating the spoiling of votes for the sake of teaching politicians a lesson, while it is well within one’s right, is short-sighted and self-serving. It is a reaction to disillusionment at best, not a solution.

While many would like to teach the politicians from both sides of the divide a lesson, national interest demands that we put them aside.

Perhaps we should advocate #UndiBijak, not #UndiRosak?

Mothers and their children should not be separated

The other area that needs prioritising is the bond between mother and child.

Unless the mother is physically, psychologically and emotionally unfit, we should do all we can to preserve that union. Neither politics, policies should be allowed to come in between them.

Laws, policies and politicians that do need to be changed. They have no place in a civil society.

Which is why it was gratifying to note the recent Federal Court ruling that nullified the unilateral religious conversions of M. Indira Gandhi’s three children.

The decision by the justices took the statement by Tun Mohamad Suffian into consideration; he said in 1982, “In a multiracial and multireligious society like yours and mine, while we judges cannot help being Malay or Chinese or Indian; or being Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu or whatever, we strive not to be too identified with any particular race or religion — so that nobody reading our judgement with our name deleted could with confidence identify our race or religion, and so that the various communities especially minority communities are assured that we will not allow their rights to be trampled underfoot.” 

Amazing isn’t it, the perspective we see when we put the right lenses on?

The ability to be just, fair, unbiased, equitable, and unprejudiced despite our differences. 

To turn those differences into strength, into assets that the nation and her people can use to do better. To be stronger. More formidable, together.

Into one where we can stand equally tall and speak equally loud. To strive just as hard and realise every one of our dreams.

May the Chinese New Year celebration showcase the colourful cultural tapestry that makes this country unique, special and truly remarkable.

Wishing those who celebrate a prosperous and joyful new year. 

Gong Xi Fa Cai.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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