An Open Letter to Malaysians

My fellow Malaysians

I was born in a small wooden house surrounded by rubber trees about 36 years ago. My first recollection of life was that of a water well because my house did not have a running water supply until much later.

Like many kampung Malay kids, I grew up not having much of anything. My worldview was shaped by my surrounding. Since some of my elderly cousins became teachers, I wanted to go one step ahead of them – so I started my young life wanting to be a university lecturer (which was the coolest job I could think of when I was eight years old).

Although life was difficult and we were always conscious that we wouldn’t have enough to go around, I grew up with full of pride. My parents raised us not to be apologetic about anything. From a very young age, I learnt that a man’s mortal enemy is his own self pity.

Thus, I grew up in a family environment that was full of energy and positivity. Living a dignified honest life on my own terms becomes an objective that I pursued doggedly from a young age.

We are, after all, the master of our own fate and fortune.

It is this belief that forms the bedrock of my conviction that for Malaysia to progress, we must heal from the self-inflicted wound of mistrust, mediocrity and mismanagement.

After four decades of divisive policies that favour only the well connected elites of the society, the cancerous downside effects on the society’s morale and self-confidence are all too apparent. The very prerequisite that can make this country great again – pride in ourselves – diminishes by the day.

The Umno elites predictably resort to scaremongering and running down the very group they claim to protect i.e. the Malays.

Every day, the Malays are being fed with a concoction of lies that they cannot survive on their own without the government’s protection. The good Malays were systematically replaced by the mediocre Malays in every sphere when the Umno-led BN government ditched meritocracy in exchange for mediocracy – it was no longer skills, qualifications or business acumen that get you a big break, it was which Umno or BN ministers you know.

The unintended consequences of such selfishness and shortsightedness were devastating to nation-building efforts. A culture of mediocrity and mistrust perpetuated by the Umno-led BN government finally allows for mismanagement of the nation’s wealth to go unchecked.

I have always advocated that a change to a needs-based policy (from race-based) is not only morally right to ensure fairness to all, more importantly it is a necessity to instill pride and goodwill in every single Malaysian so that we can move on confidently.

It is not fair to burden the young Malaysians with the baggage of the past.

They have every right to grow up believing that they can achieve their fullest potentials under the Malaysian sun if they are morally upright, honest, industrious and smart. They deserve a society that can feel good about itself, without the bitterness of mistrust and racial connotations. They need to have the confidence that the government will take care of the most vulnerable groups in the society regardless of background and affiliations.

Our young Malaysians deserve to grow up in a positive environment that thrives on the utmost confidence we have in ourselves and our capabilities, only then we can break free from the ghost of the past which inhibited Malaysia’s potential all this while.

We have a lot of work to do if we hope to accomplish this. We need to fix the schools because fixing the schools means we fix the society. We have to ensure that the good ones in the society are given the best opportunity to soar to the sky while we build a net to catch those less fortunate so that no one is left behind.

Malaysians have to look at each other differently. Instead of looking at our differences, we are better off cherishing the common fondness that binds us together – our colourful food does more justice as a testimony to our ability to appreciate each other than we ever dare to give credits to ourselves.

A lot of my friends said that I am a foolish dreamer. They taunt me that there is a fine line between idealism and foolishness. Yet each time detractors belittle my dream of a better Malaysia for all, I am constantly reminded of the beautiful words of a song from the past:

“You are still so young to travel so far, Old enough to know who you are, Wise enough to carry the scar, Without any blame..”

Malaysia is a young nation. It has gone through a lot and the experience accelerated its maturity. It may have erred in the past, but its future is the brightest on this side of the horizon. Let us look forward to that future and leave the past behind without any blame.

Looking back, I am ever grateful that I was able to cast my inferiority earlier on in my life. I could because I had a good support system and a good education.

The future of our society lies in our classroom and with our young people. I am glad that while I may have pursued a different professional career, the yearning for teaching and knowledge never dies. Deep inside I have always been a student and a teacher that allowed me to go through a journey of humility to see life from different perspectives.

We must ensure that education reforms become an obsession of our next government because every child deserves a chance to cast away his/her inferiority and inhibition earlier on in life, so that they can do wonders later on.

As we go to the polling station this Sunday, I hope my fellow Malaysians hold our heads high and look to a brighter future. The days when we are put down by our own government shall be over. We shall be the master of our nation’s destiny and fortune.

I may be relatively young, foolish and naïve to hope for better things for Malaysia. I don’t pretend to know what my fellow Malaysians want, but I offer my youth, energy and undying love to make it a better home for everyone.

Because we owe it to our young people and ourselves to put Malaysia where she deserves.

Rafizi Ramli
3rd May 2013

74 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Malaysians”

  1. Bravo! Brave words. We need people like you to lead the nation not the half baked goons that we now have in BN. Ubah! ABU!

  2. Reading this letter, brings me back to the memories of my own childhood. Being poor doesn’t stop ones from being successful in life. I had my fair share of being poor.I remember, living in wooden house with no proper lighting and clean water. Had to depend on well and rain water.At night the room was brighten by kerosene lamps which emitted black smoke.

    The life was hard at that time as my father’s income as a government servant was so low.I recalled my father had to sell a piece of land to send my sister to further her study to UMS in 1980’s.

    As my father worked in a Malay village, we had no problem socializing with the residents. The relationship with the villagers was so closed that I was adopted “unofficial” by a Malay family. The best moments were during Hari Raya where the traditional delicacies were of variety. And those sweet memories still lingers in my mind till today.

    Comparing to today’s everyday life, it is very difficult to meet the ends with prices of goods are skyrocketing. And people are getting so racists.How I wish I could go back to the old days, (except the hardships) living in harmony, without people forcing racism and religious extremism down our throats.

    To make the story short,it is the people like you yourself, the people who understand and experience hardship in life, to bring and shape this nation to what it should be. I am willing to gamble my children’s future with PAKATAN. We have been living the BN’s era for a very long time. This is the time to change.

    1. I missed my childhood environment in kampungs and small towns where colour and creed is unnoticed. We can sit and eat together. Visit one another. Attend religious functions without fear of going to hell or being converted.

      Our future generation is being fed with lies and hatred and the biggest one fear…

      So sad evil has taken over again but LOVE is always victorious in the end.

      Rafizi, spread your handsome smile of love to every Malaysian of different races. This is our land no one can call me a Pendatang.

      Please keep up the good fight!

  3. A brave dream for a brave new world! If we are to take our place on theglobal stage we must give opportunity to all, otherwise we can only wonder why a select few are given that chance.

  4. Dear Mr. Rafizi, thank you for this beautifully-written piece. I would like to ask for your permission and translate it to B.M. Again, thank you.

  5. I look forward to a new type of politics with embraces positivism and factual constructive criticism than negativism and fear-mongering. I see you as one of the politicians who can bring such change.

  6. Rafazi, you have the spirit of a true MALAYSIAN warrior! No need to wave the kris.WE give you our full respect that is due to an outstanding honest Malaysian! X PKR

  7. Rafizi as a fellow Malaysian I trust you to lead us to this new era! Let’s not fall prey to the naysayers, nothing great was ever born from realism, it is idealism which drives change and innovation! So ure not a fool!

  8. Couldn’t agree with you more. Beautifully put and well said. I too dream of a change that is imminent. Ini kali lah! Ubah!

  9. Your letter resonates what I’ve been holding dear throughout my life. Once again, as always – principle-centredness brings out the very best within ourselves. May Allah help us all in building this beloved country of ours! Am sharing this letter in my FB account.

  10. dearest rafizi, i too have your dream where Malaysia is a country of equal opportunities for her racism chinese, malay and indian united together ……ini kalilah

  11. the moment I saw you debate with Dato Mahani sometime ago,
    I really appreciate ann salute @ you Rafizi, semoga Allah
    merahmati dan memberkati apa sahaja yang dilakukan, amin

  12. You are the voice of a true Malaysian..May the voice of Malaysia be heard loud and clear this elections.

  13. Your pledge brought me to tears… I only have 2 children, I wished I had more because I swear in the name of God that my future descendants untill to th last drop of my blood will fight for a better, transparent, clean and just Malaysia that uphold God’s orders . May God bless us all

  14. I look forward to a better Malaysia from 6 may 2013. Thank you for a well written article and may God bless you and our nation with leaders who are selfless and of the highest integrity!

  15. bravo,you have my full respect. Beautiful and graceful article. We need brave politicians like you who dare to dream and fight to light the path and make a better home for all of us malaysian. I salute you Rafizi. your values and principles are what I truly believe in and very close to my heart. Thank you sir

  16. Thank you for the letter. Thank you for submitting your life for us, for a better malaysia. We will always pray for u. U showed us how we, as a young malaysia could help our nation. There are so many young people will always be with you. Proud to have a leader like you. Insya Allah we will march to Putrajaya.

  17. OMG,Malaysian are blessed to have a young & bright leader like you. You will be a great asset to Pakatan Rakyat to bring Malaysia to another level. May your dreams will become reality by 505.

    We Malaysian irrespective of race would experience a New Era under the new government. We really hope racism is the thing of the past. We really feel hurt inside when under BN, we are not appreciated but are asked to go back to China or India but Malaysia is our home.I will pray that Pakatan Rakyat will be able to captured Putrajaya and make BN to become an opposition.Deep inside, I really feel this is the time. Ini Kalilah, Ubah.k

  18. Thank you rafizi.You remind us youths of the importance of citizenship.I never had much love for this country,but people like you who choose to contribute through civil service prompt me to offer something to the table.

    Thank you for your love towards your country.You are loved.

  19. Should be included in Malaysian schools reading materials as early as possible, not the book by Rosma ascertaining is OK to receive gift from people when you are VIP.

  20. The more I read, the more I could feel water rolling down my face. A breadth of relieve…… Our Malaysians hope, finally.

  21. Rafizi, We’re so glad that we have such a great leader in our midst like you. We’re truly proud of you. We know now that the future of children is well secured with people who think differently like you. The difference between you and the present leadership is that you think of the nation’s future while they think and care for themselves. I beg God that he hears our prayers for truth to triumph. Our best wishes to you, Rafizi.

  22. Well written, there is hope for Malaysia if more people like you have this belief and conviction. You have my vote.

  23. dude,you da man!
    you give hope all malaysia living abroad to reconsider coming back to rebuild the nation. 505 will be the turning point in malaysian history when PR wins.

  24. Salam Br Rafiziramli,

    We are very proud of you and we pray that Allah strengthen you and grant you victory tomorrow. Jom Ubah!!

  25. Surely you are God sent rising star that will bring hope, restore dignity and honour that our beloved Country Malaysia so deserved. Yes, the day of reckoning has come and the hour has arrive for all Malaysians to be liberated from the bondage of racism, corruption, nepotism and mediocrity. You have my full support and vote to continue with the journey of change.

    May 6 2013 will be a defining moment for sure for you and PR, the first step towards a transformation that we all have been dreaming of since our independence.

    I wish that you will never waver from the path and vision encapsulated in your open letter. Continue to pour all your effort and energy in making Malaysia a better place for our future generation. One day, you will have the responsibility to lead Malaysia if you do not give up.

  26. I am Malaysian living in United Kingdom give a full support to Pakatan Rakyat in bringing a brighter future for Malaysian. Your statement about the unhealty culture created by BN is totally true.BN has mislead people’s mind. Indeed,we need to refresh our country’s administration system with a good one and remarkable for all..Best of luck to Pakatan Rakyat !

  27. Insya ALLAH…jika kamu yg dijanjikan ALLAH untuk membantu Malaysia saya doakan semoga kamu terus tulus, rendah diri dan zuhud dalam menjalankan amanah demi agama dan negara.

  28. Mr Rafizi, congratulations. Thank you and your family for your service, commitment, sacrifices made to this nation Malaysia. We will always remember all that you have done. Fight the GOOD fight, for justice, integrity and a better Malaysia.God bless you.

  29. Mungkin Allah SWT mentakdirkan supaya PR selepas ini lebih berusaha memenangi hati rakyat. Lebih berusaha untuk mengenali rakyat, menolong rakyat tak kira siapa, dan dari latar hidup yang bagaimana, walaupun bukan bertaraf pemimpin. Kita tidak perlu menjadi pemimpin untuk menolong sesama kita kearah kebaikan. PR sepatutnya bermula sekarang untuk lebih berusaha mencari jalan penyelesaian kepada masalah yang timbul, jalan penyelesaian kepada setiap dugaan yang Allah SWT berikan.

    Seperti kita semua maklum, Allah SWT takkan duga hambaNya jika hambaNya tidak tabah untuk diduga. Nah! Sekali lagi kita diduga… Tetapi bolehkah kita redha dan merancang kehadapan? Atau kita masih lagi hendak berhenti dan menoleh kebelakang, dan meratap sayu untuk kesekian kalinya? Buatlah pilihan sekarang, perbaikilah sekarang supaya sepanjang tempoh 5 tahun ini, bila PRU seterusnya menjelma mungkin Allah SWT memberi kita perancangan yang lain pula… yang lebih baik mungkin! Janganlah tunggu sehingga PRU menjelang untuk merangka strategi..

    Seperti permainan catur, untuk berjaya serta muncul juara memerlukan latihan dan pemahaman selama bertahun-tahun, tiada kejayaan muncul dengan latihan yang singkat…teruskan usaha.. insyaAllah… bersama kita doakan… aaminn!

  30. Tahniah atas kemenangan YB Rafizi Ramli. selamat berjuang di medan perjuangan yang belum selesai ini..semoga dapat memegang amanah ini dengan sebaiknya. In Sha Allah lagi 5 tahun kita tukar terus semuanya!

  31. Hi Rafizi,

    With your credentials, you should be the PM of Malaysia or maybe even the finance minister. The younger geenration of Malaysians, especially the educated non-Malays, are not like their forebearers who are choosing based on racial lines. I am a Chinese and for the sake of the whole nation, the Chinese or Indians should stop questioning about the Special Rights. The core issue for the survival of Malaysia is clean and efficeint governance.

    You have my vote to be the next PM if the chance arises.

  32. Well said YB Rafizi! My fullest respects and salute to you. Hidup PR and democracy!

  33. One of the bright spots in an otherwise lousy day is your win in Pandan. Hope we get to see you in action as a MP for many years to come !

  34. salam tuan rafizi … alhamdulillah n tahniah atas kemenangn both pad n pkr d kaw pandan cempaka. saya anakmkg pandan dlm n worked w pcsb stays in sj but voted d kg pandan. just nak remind tuan rafizi harap dpt menjlnkn tugas dgn rajin, amanah, etc n ziarah kawasan tuan especially kg pandan dlm coz banyak jln2 raya yg terok berlubang2 longkang tersumbat , kedai2 tidak tersusun d tepi jln besar jln A hingga ke kg pandan luar b4 kaw sgor. a lot of shops kedai makan menganggu pengguna jln raya. jazaakallahu khair

  35. Dear Rafizi,

    This is one of the most touching accounts I have read. I hope to see this dream of yours and us Malaysians come true….Education is certainly the essential factor that will unite all Malysians regardless of race and religion!!!All the best…:)

  36. I am a bit late to respond to this post. Today is already 8th of May. I feel so , so dissapointed with a friend of mine whom I just had breakfast with. She still harbours prejudice towards the Chinese eventhough she supports PR. I wish I could just slap her face hard because she still doesn’t understand that the Chinese wants the best for Malaysia too. So, so sad!

    1. It is unfortunate that Malaysians have been bombarded daily by BN and irresponsible media it controlled to think in racial lines. However, most of us, particularly those who are more rational and matured in their thinking through wider exposure and education really do not subscribe to this.

      I’ve a group of people working for me, most of them Malays who are really nice people. Last year, one of them needed assistance financially to buy a house, I lent them my money so that he was able to pay the down payment. The other day when my car broke down in Jalan Duta, an Indian motorcyclist stopped to help push my car to the side. In both of the instances, the issue of race has never crossed our minds. We only saw a fellow human in need which was within our capacity to help.
      I wish one day we Malaysians will arrived at a civil society where all of us are “colour blind” as far as race, gender, religion, affiliation etc are concerned.

      I was distraught to note that both UMNO and MCA continue to play up racial sentiments following their dismal performance where they lost their popular vote. The well informed Malaysians regardless of race have voted for transparency, integrity, justice and clean government which Pakatan Rakyat represents. We voted conscientiously for a better Malaysia for the sake of our future generation.

      I have no issue whatsoever if there is no Chinese representation in the cabinet if the cabinet is represented by progressive Malays like En. Rafizi Ramli. Likewise, Malays should not be concerned if Mr. Lim Guan Eng is CM of Penang. They have both rejected racism.

      As long as BN continue to embrace corruption, racism…., we will continue to vote for “Ubah”, not only ini kalilah, but tiap tiap kali.

  37. For this dream, we have to be united and turn up in Kelana Jaya stadium at 8.00pm tonight in black tops! Thank you Rafizi for this motivating piece!

  38. Your childhood is almost the same as mine,just enought to eat but happy. We live in a kampong with plenty of fruits and animals to take care.

    You are a fine person and that is what Malaysia is looking for. What you have written is from your heart. True and achievable. The no of votes you got is enought to show how people respect and want you around.

    All I can say is hope you can do your bit for the country and always remain the same Rafizi. All the best.

  39. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us all. Yes , we all grew up poor. Not all Chinese were / are rich.I could not pursue my ambition because my family cold not afford rm 120 a month [ in 1960s] to study in India!! I grew up having Malay and Indian friends. Happy memories. Jokes, pranks were played on each other. We use to roda[ jalan kaki lah,] in our little town , Bukit Mertajam,after school, BM High School. Yes, you know lah who is from that school!!
    I was telling my sons that we used to go round ,in a multi racial grp because our class were multi racial and we know more about each other culture and religion than the youngsters today who tend not to socialise with other race in general.
    I also share your foolish and naive hope for a better Malaysia. But I think it is neither foolish nor naive. It is certainly achievable and with more people like you to lead the younger generation, it is sure doable.

  40. “We are, after all, the master of our own fate and fortune” – MashaAllah

    I am frustrated with the GE13 result. BN was good but they failed since Mahathir’s in power

  41. Yes you are right… You are a dreamer… Dream all you want because it will just be a dream. I’m a Malay… A qualified ICAEW like you… My best childhood friend was a Chinese girl name Lee Pin Pin.. I didn’t know about racism until I started work. It was then I was discriminated because the colour of my skin.

    My husband who has his own business faced the same thing, discrimination by Chinese businessman, suppliers etc.. Now he runs a business with less reliance on the Chinese community. Tell me Rafizi, why do the Chinese say they will be fair to the Malays politically and economically. Why are they shouting racism to our faces?

    We are a hardworking Malay couple, UK-educated and we have tolerated other races when we both worked overseas. But we don’t understand why when it comes to dollars and cents, we get discriminated especially by the Chinese community.

    1. Who do you think started all those racism ideology if not UMNO? Can you see how they discriminate Chinese in education? can you see that? and can you see how UMNO discriminate Malay in term of economic? the reality is, no money no business license, apply for license wait till the end of the world, open small stall get rid by bandaraya, do you have any idea on how to start your own business and hire a young Malay people and not to forget Chinese too?

  42. Ramlah Yaman, I’m lagi late.

    Anyway, Rafizi, I’m truly proud of you. Keep going. Many will be behind you. The road will not be smooth but Malaysia will be different because YOU and your team are working at it. Puji Tuhan

  43. We love you as a hero in Malaysia,you will be a new leader to lead the country, who is regardless races, religions, unify the multi-racial societies in Malaysia, since many decades ago, the Chinese have to face inequalities such as the “quota” system, many chinese students who obtained 7 – 10 A results not able to enter Malaysia University.And therefore they have to went aboard further their studies. My own relatives’ son now in India to pursue’Doctor degree’. Many of the Chinese also been offered Scholarships in neighbour countries as rejected by local Universities. Malaysia need an open minded, far vision new leader to reform Malaysia!Many Malaysians have been migrated to overseas as they felt that they cannot have better future living under this racism emotional environment. Therefore, DS Anwar formed PK to justify for the Rakyat Malaysians. Thank GOD that He found a talented man like you in PK to make a better future for all Malaysians. A new hope for Malaysia.

  44. Well done Mr Rafizi. I think we’re from same district. But you’re more successful than me. But I’m very proud to have leader like you. I proud to say that you are our voice.

  45. Well, too bad you are too ashamed to admitting the fact you are the direct benefactor of NEP. Say whatever you want, but without such system in place, you could be planting padi or fishing in the sea. But today, upon achieving success you forget about your past, thinking you did that all on you own. Worse you fight against the system that helps to put you on top. Do you really think you can study in UK because of your capability? I am laughing when I see your achievement in UK university. You are indeed a typical ingrate.

    Well I guess this post will not see daylight.

  46. Brother Rafizi,

    Your big victory in the GE13 in Pandan show hope of young Malaysians of various races against you are enormous. Young people in Malaysia hope you are able to bring this country towards New Malaysia..harmonious among various races. This is a huge responsibility for you. Preferably immediately implement their trust. If you manage to deliver the best, I’m sure God will lift you in the best position possible a and I believe you could be the Prime Minister of Malaysia in future. My prayers always accompany your struggle and all Malaysians in general.

  47. why didn’t you tell us about your school MCKK, your scholarship to UK, your job in Petronas and Pharmaniaga? how can you achieve all that without UMNO fighting for malay rights? you support DAP. how will DAP help the less fortunate malays?

    you got what you want. let others have their cut.

  48. U are so right enisha.. I totally agreed with you. When it comes to work.the chinese community will discriminate the malay.. Don’t you experienced the same thing YB rafizi?

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