Recently, a column published on NST Online by Johan Ishak touched on the roles and duties of Malaysian citizens and their hand in making our society a responsible or irresponsible one
In the column, Johan addresses two kinds of Malaysians: the ones who won't vote and the ones who want everything for free
Johan, CEO of Media Prima Television Networks, cites an experience he had at the Gegaria festival at Setia Alam Convention Centre, where he saw an event organised by the Election Commission of Malaysia (SPR) to encourage citizens to be responsible by registering to vote.
There was a queue of people in front of the SPR truck, which made Johan think of it as a positive sign. However, there were some, who simply walked past by.
Out of curiosity, he asked them as to why weren't they queuing up to register as a voter, to which he received the kind of replies that would be deemed irresponsible. "Replies", Johan says, "that warrant the negative generalisation about our society."
While these people have concerns over various governmental matters, they carry an irresponsible attitude towards voting
And this attitude against practising something that can hold the government accountable is not limited to one section but is, sadly, apparent across all walks of life, be it the different age groups, ethnic groups or any other basic demographics.
On one hand, we have people who have turned 21 but have not registered as voters because they don't feel it is important to do so and consider it a waste of time. Or simply possesses the "I do not have the time" type of attitude.
And on the other, there are those who have registered but could not be bothered to vote because of the same reasons and we also have people who have conveniently booked their time that clashes with the elections for overseas leisure holidays.
They do have concerns over matters such as taxes, the education system, health matters, public transportation issues, cost of living, income disparity, ethnic tensions, crime rates, public service quality, religion and many more.
These are the matters that are important and require government intervention, but somehow they fail to understand how it is virtually impossible if we do no participate.
At which point, Johan, as if almost exasperated, asks:
"How on earth are we, the good citizens of the country, going to exercise our rights on these matters other than via the power of our votes?
"Are we going to continue barking on the social media platforms or march down the roads all dressed in one colour be it yellow or red?
"Are we going to continue embracing this irresponsible attitude and let our children follow our habit, our bad habit of being irresponsible voters, especially when the 14th General Election is just around the corner?"
The second kind of Malaysian: those who want everything for free. Johan gives an example of a friend who has a long list of complaints.
Complaints such as, but not limited to, the reason why there are numerous advertisements on our national TV channels, why do we need to pay tolls, why do we need to contribute via the PIBG if education is free, why parking is not free, how hospitals are expensive, and so on.
Johan argues that we are not a socialist society, that we are a moderate capitalist country where we believe in working hard and honestly to rightfully earn an income.
He adds that our economy is the exchange of supply and demand, that it's not made of handouts. But if we keep treating other people's generosity as our right to consume for free we will literally become a society of thieves.
In response to the friend's various complaints, Johan picks the need for advertisements on our national TV channels to make a point
The programmes you watch on the Free-to-Air Television (FTA TV) channel such as TV3, are free. You do not have to pay a single Sen.
"Now imagine, how on Earth will TV3 pay the salaries of their workforce?" he asks.
"Those engineers, those cameramen, the TV hosts, the journalists and many more, are also entitled to earn income in this moderate capitalist country like all of you. They too have the rights as the citizens of the country.
"There are also other costs such as telecommunication services, commissioning production houses, rental expenses and other expenditure requirements of a TV station. How do the TV stations pay for these if they stop showing the ads?"
Basically, not only we want things for free, we don't hesitate for a second before consuming pirated products such as downloading or streaming content from the pirate sites, which is a criminal offence
To sum up Johan's column, these factors coupled with our "careless" attitude are good examples of bad habits that can be easily generalised as our society's shortfall when it comes to our responsibility as Malaysians.
What do you think? Are we an irresponsible society?
You share your thoughts on the issue with us by commenting below.