Rahman

 

Danial Rahman

Danial Rahman has education close to his heart. He tweets at @danial_ari and welcomes feedback at danialrahman0330@gmail.com.

 

 

Recently, I had a chat with a friend, Danni Rais on this topic (we’ll get back to his familiar sounding name later).

Danni, together with a few friends including Hannah Kam and Azeem Abu Bakar, founded ONE (Organisation for National Empowerment) and on the 20th of February 2016, will host an event entitled ‘Our Future: 2057’.

“Why Our Future: 2057?” I ask.

“There is an old proverb which says ‘we do not inherit Earth from our parents, rather, we borrow it from our children,” says Danni.

“With this in mind, the event is meant to provide a platform to have a serious discussion with the youth of today, who will be the parents of tomorrow, and by 2057, grandparents of the future.

According to Hannah, the event “signifies a collective future, shaped and shared by Malaysians regardless of race, creed or colour; a future which ensures and symbolises our unity as one people, 100 years post-Merdeka and far beyond”.

Clearly passionate about the cause, Danni emphasises that they appreciate Malaysia’s history, achievements and is proud of her development. “Our Future: 2057 is about what’s next”.

The event will focus on 5 areas of discussion including politics & democracy, unity, education, economics and women empowerment. I decided to pick at his ideas on a few of these areas.

Politics & Democracy

“So, how do you foresee Malaysia’s political and democratic future?” I ask.

“By 2057, we could have a female Prime Minister, from Sabah, and of Kadazan origin”, Danni says.

“Isn’t 41 years a bit too long for such a milestone?”

“Well, she could have finished her tenure by then. Great if it happens sooner!

“That’s the beauty of Our Future: 2057. It’s about formulating a vision while keeping in mind the realities of today,” Danni adds.

He continues “By 2057, I foresee term-limits for top leadership positions. I haven’t thought of the duration yet, but long enough for sufficient policy implementation, yet short enough to enable the grooming and emergence of new leadership”.

“So, what about race-based political parties?”

Danni smiles.

You see, Danni is the son of Tan Sri Rais Yatim, former Malaysian Cabinet Minister, UMNO Supreme Council member, and once-upon-a-time Semangat 46 deputy president.

While Danni doesn’t usually talk about this, he accepts that he has the party to thank for what he terms as a ‘comfortable’ upbringing.

“I am thankful to my dad for providing this. He has worked hard to achieve what he has today.

On his advice, I still go back to his kawasan (constituency) and spend time with the people there.

Frankly, there are like family to me as we grew up together. Alhamdulillah, I hold this advice dear”.

With regard to the question, Danni agrees that 2057 will see a more inclusive political scenario, for example, such as through Barisan Nasional opening up direct membership.

“I also believe that affirmative action must be needs based. We must help those who are economically, socially, and educationally disadvantaged; policies must be specific and lead to certain achievable goals; Once achieved, they must be reviewed.

“By 2057, I’m sure we’d have advanced beyond this,” he adds.

Education & Unity

“I believe we will have one of the best education systems in the world. We’d have stopped bickering over Bahasa Melayu and English, and our students will all be at the very least tri-lingual.

“Education is at the heart of Our Future: 2057. Education is the basis of unity. Our children need to mix, to interact, and to learn about each other”.

“Good point. You mention unity. What about vernacular schools? Are they still around in 2057?”

I ask.

“Yes.”

(I actually expected him to say no).

“But, isn’t that contradictory to your ambition of unity?” I inquire further.

“It shouldn’t be. Today, we can see more and more Malay children being sent to vernacular schools and in some states like Kelantan, there are more Malays than Chinese students in Chinese vernacular schools. Vernacular schools are about respecting parental choice.

“That said, I am a proponent of strengthening the national schools system. Vernacular schools should no longer be funded by the state – but this needs to be discussed more”.

Religion

“So, what about religion?” I ask.

Danni says that Malaysians have always been a spiritual populace, and 2057 will see that grow.

“We will live in greater harmony,” he adds.

“It’s not easy to quantify ‘spirituality’ and ‘harmony’. But really, if you travel around the world, there is no place like Malaysia. We are truly united in diversity. I believe that the state will continue to support all religious endeavours, with Islam playing a role as the official religion of the state.

“And as a nation, in 2057 we will be the leaders of the Muslim world”.

Conclusion

Before ending our chat, Danni stressed that “ONE is apolitical. Being in politics and having opinions on politics are different. We want to have as open a discussion as possible, and it’s important to bring all views together as we envision Malaysia 2057”.

“What happens after the event?” I ask.

Danni says that they plan to compile and turn the feedback into a charter. Thereafter, they intend to take the ONE platform outside of Kuala Lumpur and seek the ideas of youth from all over the nation.

Azeem, one of the founders adds, “By 2057, I will be in my 60s. And so will others in my generation. By then, we want to look back and say, ‘We had an awesome journey building this nation and it all started here with ONE. For me, the focus is on the journey. Not just the destination”.

I will be 71. I guess it’s never too early to start thinking about the nation we will leave for our future children.

Our Future: 2057 is open to members of the public. To register, you can head over to

2057.oneonline.my.

Originally published on The Star Online on Thursday February 11, 2016 MYT 16:03:00 PM

 

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