On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

We have every reason to celebrate

There are plenty of reasons to celebrate. While some
Malaysians may take national day for granted, there are thousands of foreigners
who want to remain in our country.

Sorry, we cannot allow you to join in the party because
there is no more room.

It's a lot of foreigners when they make up 10% of the
population of 22 million people in a small country. We understand the majority
want to stay in Malaysia
because there are plenty of jobs but we just cannot accommodate them.

Yes, we know of volcanic eruptions in Indonesia
and the Philippines.
And we heard it's dangerous to walk in the streets because of the crime rate in
these two countries.

They say the politicians in Jakarta
and Manila talk too much. We have
them here too, but they are less irrational, perhaps. No, we don't have movie
heroes and beauty queens who get voted into political office.

I am sure many Malaysians would like to see some glamour
in our Parliament but most of us are not prepared to risk our votes on a bimbo
or a drunkard.

One Filipino politician has asked his government to
reclaim Sabah from Malaysia.
We all thought it was no longer an issue but it's like the late President
Marcos – both are dead but yet to be buried, as far as some elite Filipinos are

The Filipino press has always been feisty. For the
Indonesian journalists, the newfound freedom has been a blessing after years of
being shackled.

Who cares about accuracy? Nobody is going to ask about
accountability if they run unsubstantiated reports of deaths in detention
camps. Attribution and confirmation don't seem to exist because the competition
is just too hot.

Besides, with the foreign wire agencies so much against Malaysia,
the Western press would just lap it up and repeat these unfounded allegations to
the world. And who would want to sue these publications that are not even
selling enough to pay their reporters?

We are a lucky country, for all the whining some of us
make. We may have our differences but we are tolerant and rational. We know how
to turn down the volume each time a debate gets too loud.

We seek solutions at the negotiation table to resolve our
problems. That was how we achieved our independence from the British.

Our leaders, representing the major races, fought for
independence through negotiations and not by shedding blood in the streets.

Despite criticism against our style of democracy, our
leaders have run Malaysia
well. Without doubt, we can still improve ourselves and I am sure, given time,
we will.

Sometimes, we are a little too hard on ourselves. It's
simply because most of us have never gone through really hard times.

As a nation, we have our share of setbacks but we have
never suffered greatly. We have always managed, even in the darkest moments, to
pull ourselves up.

After 45 years of independence, we can proudly say that
we have done well in many aspects. That is enough reason to celebrate.