Lucy Sebli

The future depends on what you do today

Mahatma Gandhi, anti-colonial nationalist and political ethicist

This year, we have been greeted with many exciting events either on the international or home front.

Internationally, on Jan 4, the United States of America launched a military drone attack which targeted Iranian top military general Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike in Baghdad, which killed him.

Does the US have the right to launch such an attack is a question that still lingers in everybody’s mind.

According to international law at least, the US has no right to attack any citizen of a sovereign nation, no matter how justified the reason.

Iran later launched a series of ballistic missile attacks on US military bases in Iraq, as a tit-for-tat retaliatory action.

Although US news media reported no casualties, it is a signal of what’s to come as far as US-Iran relationship is concerned.

Everything hinges on how President Donald Trump would react to the attacks. It is also a show of Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities, which the Iranian government has been trying to do since the breakdown of the nuclear agreement between the two governments back in 2015. This tumultuous relationship will affect global economic growth.

Another major event occurred on Jan 7 in the early hours not far from Tehran’s airport — the crash of the Ukrainian Boeing 737-800, a three-and-a-half-year-old aircraft, which killed all 180 passengers and crew aboard.

Unfortunately, the sad tragedy which killed 180 lives was overshadowed by news of US-Iran’s ‘war’ as far as world news media coverage was concerned.

Although both sides argued vehemently that they had no intention to escalate tensions, harsh words continued between the two countries.

On the national front, things are less edgy and dangerous compared to the conflict.

The Jan 2 resignation of Dr Mazlee Malik as Education Minister made the front pages, just 20 months after he took office.

A series of controversies have marred his tenure from the moment he over.

Furthermore, the pressure on him to resign reached its climax when he decided to introduce Jawi scripts as part of the Bahasa Melayu syllabus in vernacular schools, amidst strong opposition from non-Muslims.

Nevertheless, the issue of Jawi scripts was one of the many controversial ideas he had.

Unfortunately for him, the tipping point was the Jawi issue which ultimately resulted in his political demise.

There is nothing wrong with introducing Jawi scripts in vernacular schools but to exclude the significant stakeholders in the process was a wrong move on his part.

Closer to home, the issues relating to infrastructure development in rural areas, particularly roads and clean water, still very much dominate Sarawak’s political discourse.

Native Customary Rights issue is also dominating the political discourse, at least on social media.

The government should pay close attention to these issues if it wishes to win the hearts and minds of the people in the next state election, whenever that may be.

Since its inception on Jan 19, 2019, Gabungan Parti Sarawak or GPS, which comprises a coalition of four major Sarawak parties — PBB, PRS, SUPP and PDP —has done quite well in fulfilling its promises. Although GPS was formally established on June 12, 2018, it was officially registered on Nov 22, 2018.

The GPS vision is to foster and maintain a cohesive, just, equitable, harmonious and progressive Sarawak in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 based on the supremacy of the Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Henceforth, the Chief Minister, as a leader of the coalition, has underlined several initiatives to move Sarawak forward politically, economically and socially.

GPS has busied itself since its inception. It does so by going to the ground to inform the grassroots of its vision and mission.

There is always a huge crowd seen attending the events.

Enthusiasm is also high. However, it can be a deception as well.

People, especially those who are very critical of the government, are watching like a hawk to see whether the GPS-led government can deliver on its promises.

The government should take the issues raised, especially on social media, seriously.

How the government reacts towards these issues will determine GPS’ fate at the ballot box.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.