, , , ,

I joined my friend Tawfik Tun Dr Ismail in Bagan Datuk over the weekend as he went around the towns and villages in the constituency, meeting voters and appealing for support. Tawfik, as you know, is standing as an independent in a courageous quest to unseat UMNO president Zahid Hamidi who has represented the constituency since 1995.

I saw parts of our nation that I had not seen before – rural villages in the heart of palm-oil country, fishing villages along the coast, one-street towns. We stopped and chatted with street vendors and others who call this part of Malaysia their home. Everywhere we went, people were kind, hospitable and friendly.

Talking to them, hearing their views and learning about the challenges they face reminded me of how unique and diverse we are as a nation with so many different cultures, religions, ethnicities, worldviews, priorities and standards of living. Few countries in the world can match the uniqueness of our diversity.

But you know, it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of time to forge one nation out of such diversity. Sadly, we have never put in the time, resources and commitment to really make it work. After more than half a century of half-hearted effort, more lip service than anything else, we have fallen far behind the dream of that united and progressive nation our founding fathers envisaged. Our politicians and our politics have divided us and pushed us apart.

Joining Tawfik was an experience in itself. He is so committed, so passionate about rescuing the nation that his father – the legendary Tun Dr Ismail – fought so hard to build. He has seen the corruption, the abuse of power, the downward spiral of our nation and is trying to do something about it at no small cost to himself. 

A humble man committed to a great cause. And in the process, he has inspired supporters – young and old, of every ethnicity and religion – to join him in his struggle. They’ve come from all over to help. I watched absolutely fascinated as Malay, Chinese and Indian volunteers followed him around, translating, persuading, explaining his cause. He is truly his father’s son; he embodies the kind of nation we could be, must be if we are to prosper and endure. 

[Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | 14th November 2022]