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Friday, 4 January 2013

May 2013 be a year of productivity?

We must make sure Malaysia and the rest of the world keep going forward this new year.

WISHING people a “Happy New Year” or “Kong Xi Fa Cai” or “Selamat Hari Raya” or “Happy Deepavali” and “Merry Christmas” is something I enjoy doing very much.

The invention of e-mail, SMS and other more recent phone applications have made me a serial “wisher” and if you are on my contact list, you should have got a message from me.

For the coming 2013, I wrote a little ditty and it reads:
“Every New Year brings new hope,
Every New Year brings new joy,
Let’s make sure 2013 will bring more,
Let’s make 2013 a GREAT year”

Ninety per cent of those who got my message replied politely but most of them just treated it as another “wish”.

I would like to stress that my wish for everyone is a deep-felt one and it’s one that I mean with all sincerity – 2013 is an important year not only for us in Malaysia but also the world.

As this article is being written, the TV and wires are reporting that the Republicans and the White House have just made a last-minute deal to avoid the US economy from going over the “fiscal cliff” which would drive the US and possibly the Western world into a recession immediately.

There can be many criticisms levied against President Barack Obama and the other US politicians of leaving it until so late to come to a compromise on a very important matter with global impact.

But the successful conclusion just before midnight of New Year’s Eve augurs well for everyone. At least we started 2013 on a positive footing.

The stock markets in Asia reopened on the first day of trading of the New Year in positive territory. That’s a good start.

Avoiding the fiscal cliff is just one of many global issues that the world inherited from 2012 and needs to be overcome in 2013.

Among the more urgent ones are:

> The Euro Zone financial crisis. Nothing done seems to have had any effect and even the mighty German economy is beginning to waver under the weight of the problem. Other big economies like Spain, Portugal, Italy and France all seem to be resigned to the fact of a prolonged downturn.

The world needs to start treating economic ailments the way it treats terrorism and war – by doing it with an all-out effort.

I accept that there is no single cure for a downturn because most are caused by different situations.

However, the urgency in treating and handling economic issues is downright embarrassing.

An example is the World Trade Organisation that was set up more than 20 years ago and until today has hardly made any significant headway except to be a very expensive talk shop.

> The horrifying disintegration of Syria. The way the world has allowed this nightmare to carry on is unbelievable.

All they have done is pay lip service at best or at worst, send one side or the other more weapons that will only prolong the suffering.

The problem of the wide media publicity given to this civil war is that it has made people immune to the violence and abuses that is going on there.

Each time we see a new video coming out of that country that shows death and destruction, all we tend to do is shrug our shoulders and remark “another day in paradise”.

This has to stop. We have to care and, in 2013, we should all act as one to prevent such carnage from continuing.

> Back home in Malaysia, our attention will be focused on the GE 13 which I will bravely say will take place before April 7.

Does this mean that all our energy and attention will be centred on the first quarter of the year?

I hope not. Our energy will be needed even more after that.

Yes, this general election will be the mother of all political battles – the kind where brothers take on brothers and husbands bravely challenge wives’ political ideology.

I will not be wrong to say that both sides on the political divide have already hardened their stand – all are prepared not only for the polls but also to up the ante to a feverish pitch.

Let’s hope the pitch just stays feverish and measurable by the thermometer. Yes, there is much at stake for both sides – it’s political survival for some of the key characters in our political theatre.

Because much of it is about personal survival, certain personalities may want to take the feverish pitch past the measurable level.

I do not want to dwell on who has what at stake but I would like to caution all politicians that the country needs to move on after the votes are counted.

They must not create a situation where the country cannot move forward or backwards.

Malaysia cannot afford to be stuck in another 60 months of political quagmire caused by turning everything into a political issue whether it’s a Olympic silver medal or how long before Selangor runs out of water.

I hope the whole country will wake up after polling day, take in the results and quickly get back to work because there will be more than 154 days to go before the end of 2013.

Malaysia has burst into a quick trot in its catch-up with the rest of the world in 2012, let’s not waste all that to tantrums thrown by sore losers in a political race.

A very down-to-earth colleague, in reply to my greetings, wrote: “It’s just another day. So think young, stay healthy and better be good.”

While she may have meant the New Year’s day – I think it is also apt for the day after election.

Happy New Year.

Executive editor Wong Sai Wan spent his New Year’s eve at a friend’s place toasting to a bright future for everyone.