(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): The Year of the Tiger was not only a year of crisis for the tiger economies, it was a year of triple crisis for Malaysia - economic, political and moral - with no real let-up or solution in sight.
The critical question is whether the Year of the Rabbit can usher the country out of the woods of the triple crisis, to begin the much-needed healing process for the national psyche so that Malaysians can feel whole again to have the self-confidence to hold their heads high and take their rightful place in the international arena in the new millennium.
The past year had been a momentous one. Never before had so much hope been aroused among a new generation of Malaysians for a new tomorrow where there is justice, freedom, democracy and good govenance despite harsh clampdowns on these urgings for reforms. But never before had so much fears and apprehensions been aroused in another section of the population based on half-truths and misinformation disseminated by a high-level conspiracy of disinformation.
Never before had there been so much nobility and courage. For the first time in four decades of Malaysian nationhood, the country produced a political leader who is prepared to pay the supreme political sacrifice to defend the fundamental human rights of a Malaysian of another race, and an underaged girl at that. It is also the first time in Malaysian nationhood that a political leader could fall so hard and fast, crashing one day from the No. 2 highest post in the land to that of a No. 1 criminal, and despite a crushing trial and tribulation could find the courage to stand unbowed to fight for justice.
But never before, also, have there been so much ugliness and abuses of power in public and political life. The very inner sanctum of the police high command in Bukit Aman became the symbol of police lawlessness; the judicial and legal system the agents of injustice; the anti-corruption agency never more impotent after the most powerful anti-corruption law had been passed by Parliament while the mass media became the fountain of misinformation.
On the threshold of the new millennium, Malaysia runs the risk of losing our roots and forgetting the basic values of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
The time has come for Malaysians regardless of race, religion, gender or political beliefs to unite for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance so that the Year of the Rabbit can usher the country out of the woods of the triple political, economic and moral crisis.
A National Agenda 2000 for Justice, Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance involving political parties, NGOs and concerned Malaysians should be convened to restore the bearings of the nation and the basic values of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
On a more personal note, this Chinese New Year will be painful one for my family and me, with Lim Guan Eng in Kajang Prison. We thank the endless stream of support and sympathy from Malaysians of all races, religions and walks of life which have sustained us in our ordeal.
May family and I wish all a Happy Chinese New Year of the Rabbit and seek forgiveness that we will not be sharing in the festivities.