AT the start of the new year, let every Ma-laysian resolve to make the country a safer place to live in, safe not only from terrorism, crime and violence but also from tragedies which are of our own doing, be they on the roads, in residential and public areas or at workplaces.
It is essential for people to take heed of one important lesson for humanity: that civilisation can be destroyed if it does not make peace with the environment.
The fact that landslides and road cave-ins are a frequent occurrence points to our failure to make the culture of maintenance and safety a way of life.
When buildings or structures collapse, or the environment is harmed, or accidents and fatalities occur at workplaces, we are responsible. We cannot simply blame nature or the work tools.
We have to realise that any action that results in the degradation and destruction of our environment will have disastrous consequences. Similarly, if we do not manage things efficiently, occupational safety and health accidents can occur at workplaces.
The fact that fatal accidents continue to occur on our roads and highways points to the need for more to be done to improve road engineering and safety, as well as the attitude and behaviour of those behind the wheel.
Over the years, the government has spent billions of ringgit on development, but what is regrettable is the lack of maintenance. This has to be rectified and every effort must be made to inculcate the culture of maintenance and safety. And, those who are placed in charge must not shirk their responsibility.
More funding should be allocated for maintenance to be carried out by the authorities, with dedicated staff to discharge their responsibilities.
On the political front, it is vital for Malaysia to continue to exist as a democratic, united and harmonious nation despite the existence of divergent political ideologies and views.
We need to address more aggressively the issues of racial integration, unity and nation-building, besides having to deal with crime, drug addiction and a host of social ills confronting our nation.
The plans to re-establish the Socio-Economic Research Institute under the Prime Minister’s Office and upgrade the Institute of Ethnic Studies at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia are timely as they will contribute towards the improvement of ethnic relations and chart out well-researched solutions to address socio-economic issues.
We must also focus on the social agenda to deal with the social challenges in the new year.
We have to tackle the multifarious social problems in the country such as juvenile and cyber crime, illegal gambling, acts of violence, the worsening drug problem involving youths and teenagers, as well as those suffering from mental disorders.
Crime has become a major problem and there must be a new year resolution to bolster efforts to fight it, particularly drug-related crime, with the involvement and participation of the community.
Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye