Let’s pray for a good year

WE always hope that much of what we wish for in our New Year greetings to each other on the eve of every new year would come true and be reflected in what happens throughout the year. We are always optimistic that what we wish – usually good health, prosperity and peace – for each other would come true. As usual we continue to be hopeful even though much of what we wish for will not always come true.

We expressed our optimism on the eve of 2011 but events were to show that the year that we had just left was a crisis-ridden one. There were natural disasters and bad weather throughout and thousands died as a result of them. There were mudslides, floods, typhoons and storms in much of East Asia, hurricanes in Central and South America and droughts in many parts of Africa. Another kind of storm – the political kind swept the Middle East. The Arab Spring saw the bloody ouster of long time dictators in Libya, Tunisia and the resignation of another strongman in Egypt. More are struggling to stay on as their people want them out. And then there is the three-year-old financial crisis that seems to defy all efforts to tame it.

In all, 2011 was not all that we wished for on its eve, no matter how hard we tried to spot the silver lining. There were landslides, floods and politicking in Malaysia too but luckily for us they were not as devastating and unsettling as elsewhere in the world. We cannot entirely blame nature for the floods and the landslides or blame the destruction and devastation caused by them as "an act of God". We are as much to be blamed for them. We did little to mitigate them but instead helped them to become more destructive. Just like the global financial crisis, they are going to be with us for much of this year as stated by the report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change.

And just as matters have not quite settled down in the Middle East, the domestic political situation is unlikely to improve any time soon as political parties position themselves to be "the favourite" and potential candidates jockey themselves into positions where they will be noticed by their bosses.

But the year has begun badly. Hardly had greetings ceased, a few pig heads were found in the compound of a mosque in Johor, allegations were made of police brutality when the men in blue tried to stop some students demonstrating outside the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris campus on New Year's Day and reports published of people planning to gather as a show of support for Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Jan 9. Still, there is no reason why we shouldn't hope for good health, prosperity, peace and security.