Next PM must have Olympic spirit

THE front-page splash of a national daily one week before our prime minister’s resignation may at first glance appear to be just another recital of the continuing saga gripping Malaysia as it fights two entirely different wars at one go – a pandemic war and a political war.

One story highlights the race to survive a brutal Delta assault; the other story displays a line-up of MPs in an equally tight race to survive a battle in the corridors of power.

While the body is fighting a defensive war against a viral invader, the mind of Malaysia is in a bipolar condition at war against itself.

Habitual politicking is beginning to disgust even the politicians. As a former mentri besar, Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu, confessed: “Even I, as a politician, am fed up with politicking. What more non-politicians?”

For sure the public are fed up, but do they have a solution? All they can think of is who ought to be the next prime minister.

But if a car is faulty, which driver can take you to Shangri-La? The waiting room is full of eager drivers, none of whom admit that the car is defective.

In the waiting room are some leaders who use religion as a tool for politicking, going as far as to claim that if non-believers gain office they will be managing religious affairs.

Such claims should alarm you, just as you would be alarmed if your car’s malfunction indicator lights up.

However, the stoking of religious sentiments to garner support in a time of political crisis is merely reflective of the polarised mindset that controls our thinking.

Unsurprisingly polarisation exists in Sarawak as well. A Bidayuh lecturer in Kuching told theSun (Aug 6 issue) that some years ago he asked his cousins to join him in a Gawai festival, but they rebuked him saying it was against their religious beliefs.

We let our belief systems divide us into ring-fenced clusters – Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, Sikhs. And do we place the indigenous folk beliefs outside the realm of salvation?

This framework of religious polarisation sets the tone for ethnic clustering and political partisanship.

It then becomes a norm for party chiefs to declare that coalitions are best formed with other parties that have the same ethnic composition and religious beliefs.

No thought is given to the adverse consequences of narrowing the talent base.

Talent search is confined within ethno-religious boundaries and this narrowing is further compounded by the need to make selection based on political membership and reward distribution.

This purposeful narrowing of the talent base is rooted in the view that the belief systems of different religions, cultures, and civilisations are fundamentally incompatible with one another. Other beliefs are seen as contradicting our truth.

The first rule of thinking is to be aware that “belief” means you don’t know if a statement is absolutely true.

If you believe that the Earth is round, it means you do not have personal evidence.

An astronaut never says that he believes the Earth is round, he knows it is round.

Belief systems developed in the formation stages of every civilisation as a means to unify the immense diversity of tribes that had merged into a single political entity.

A spiritual lineage was created as substitute for blood lineage, so that many separate ethnicities could transcend blood ties. This is why every religion opposes racism.

But in our land, many politicians have abused religion to make it support their agenda.

If the purpose of all religions is identical, then their core beliefs must also be identical. You may be fooled by the striking contrast between diamond and graphite.

Delve into their chemistry and you won’t be fooled any more. Delve into the chemistry of all religions and you will be astonished by the sameness embedded within their differences.

As an example: What is the common thread running through Gawai, Thaipusam, and Christmas that are on the surface very different?

Gawai celebrates the end of the harvesting season in Sarawak and is a thanksgiving before the new farming season begins. It is also the celebration of a paramount ethic: every human being is responsible for every other human being throughout the Earth and no one must die of hunger.

Thaipusam commemorates the victory of good forces or devas over the evil forces or asuras, and is essentially a reminder that one must overcome his evil traits. Hence, devotees smash coconuts as the act represents the smashing of one’s ego.

Do you know why Christmas Day falls on Dec 25? Jesus wasn’t born on this day, according to biblical historians, but it was picked because of its turning-point significance. Chinese who celebrate tong yuen festival will know.

This is the time of Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere when the extreme of darkness is reached and brightness starts its return. Hence the birth of Jesus on Dec 25 symbolises the birth of a new light.

The partisan mind, however, is unable to see a common tread. It lacks the capability to see that diamond and graphite manifest the same carbon in different forms.

This is the misfortune of our country: it is losing the realisation that all diversities have a unifying base. Only through the sprouting of diversity can talent be produced. This is nature’s way.

By constricting the base of our talent search, we violate the basic law of nature.

We hope that the next prime minister will have a universalist mind and champion the Olympic spirit.

Why is USA the No. 1 Olympic nation with the most number of medals, including gold?

It is because it partakes in almost all sports and if you study the ethnic lineages of all their champions, it is like a small-scale United Nations.

To be a great nation, we must seek out the best talents wherever they are and put them in the Cabinet.

The writer champions interfaith harmony. Comments: