YS Chan

“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”

― Michael Cunningham, American novelist and screenwriter

The Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) is headquartered in Sydney, with offices in New York, Mexico City, Brussels in Belgium, The Hague in Netherlands and Harare in Zimbabwe bordering South Africa.

IEP is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human wellbeing and progress. Since 2007, it has produced an annual Global Peace Index (GPI), which ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness.

These reports present the most comprehensive data-driven analysis on peace, its economic value, trends and how to develop peaceful societies and cover 99.7 percent of the world’s population. And guess what, Malaysia is ranked among the top 10 percent in GPI 2019!

It should make Malaysians swell with pride. It is also time for us to see our country from a global perspective and not allow selfish politicians from both sides of the political divide using print, electronic and social media to pit communities against one another.

We are all Malaysians and those who study or work hard, lead a healthy life to be productive and avoid being a burden to society, show courtesy and kindness, respect everyone and the environment, pay tax, contribute to charity, and promote safety, security and peace are patriotic.

The GPI measures the state of peace using three thematic domains: the level of societal safety and security; the extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict; and the degree of militarisation. Based on these, Malaysia jumped over nine countries in GPI 2019.

Malaysia was ranked 16th below Iceland, New Zealand, Portugal, Austria, Denmark, Canada, Singapore, Slovenia, Japan, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Iceland, Australia, Finland and Bhutan.

Remarkably, we are above Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Germany, Slovakia, Mauritius, Romania and Bulgaria. Except for one island nation in the Indian Ocean, the rest are in Europe. For sure, we are in good company with these countries.

Europe was the most peaceful region followed by North America, Asia-Pacific, South America, Central America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, Russia and Eurasia, South Asia and least peaceful was the Middle East and North Africa.

Except for Brunei, all other Asean countries were ranked with Singapore (7th), Malaysia (16th), Indonesia (41st), Laos (45th), Vietnam (57th), Cambodia (89th), Thailand (116th), Myanmar (125th) and Philippines (134th).

For comparison, the rankings for some of the well-known countries are Taiwan (36th), South Korea (56th), United Kingdom (46th), China (110th), United States (128th), Saudi Arabia (129th), India (141st), Pakistan (153rd), Russia (154th) and last Afghanistan (163rd).

Malaysians, particularly Sarawakians, must have been practising what IEP has long been advocating to promote peace. It described positive peace as complementary aspect of peacefulness that captures the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies.

Well-developed positive peace represents the capacity for a society to meet the needs of its citizens, reduce the number of grievances that arise and resolve remaining disagreements in an efficient way and without resorting to violence.

It is based on eight pillars – well-functioning government, sound business environment, acceptance of the rights of others, good relations with neighbours, free flow of information, high levels of human capital, low levels of corruption, and equitable distribution of resources.

We should continue to build on these eight pillars to maintain our ranking in GPI and not allow selfish politicians drown out what everyone aspires, and that is to be peaceful. Our defining moment was on May 9, 2018 when we changed government without shedding a drop of blood!

Our high ranking should make it easier for the Ministry of International Trade and Industry to draw more investments to our country. Tourism Malaysia and industry players should also capitalise on this to lure more visitors to Malaysia.

Tour operators are required to attend the “Travel and Tours Enhancement Course” to renew their company licence with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, and one of the five modules covers “Safety and Security of Tourists”.

The GPI 2019 ranking should inspire tour operators to strive harder in identifying issues involving safety and security of tourists and implement best practices for the wellbeing of customers under their care, including contingency plans to handle emergencies.

Local authorities should also make full use of fifth-generation technology by installing high-tech surveillance cameras with artificial intelligence and video analytic functions to enhance security monitoring in public places. All measures that contribute to peace must be embraced.

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