KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 ― This year was a roller coaster ride — from the global pandemic and its accompanying economic crisis to the unexpected political events that took place in Malaysia.
As the New Year approaches, new hopes loom for a better and more prosperous year for everyone from all walks of life.
To wave goodbye to the challenging 2020, Malay Mail asked some of Malaysia’s prominent figures and advocates to share their New Year wishes to Malaysians.
Here’s to a better 2021:
Datuk Dr Christopher Lee
Infectious disease specialist and Malaysian AIDS Council president
“I hope that Malaysians will come together collectively more often to address the pressing issues of our country.
“Clearly we’ve been working in our own silos quite a bit. We have to walk the talk on finding common ground and work towards getting the best solution for our nation.
“One major area we need to work on is lifting the health status of all Malaysians, especially those who are less empowered.
“Our efforts and resources must focus on the health of B40s, both in the rural and urban areas; and with a special emphasis on our elders.”
Dr Lee, a retired deputy health director-general, has been at the forefront of the country’s fight against infectious diseases for many decades.
The veteran was one of five specialists with the Health Ministry treating infectious diseases including HIV in the early days where he handled his first case of the virus at Hospital Kuala Lumpur.
Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir
Writer and activist
“[I wish] for the quick end to this pandemic.
“[I wish] for the entire Government to resign and if not, for each Minister to stop talking and actually do their jobs.
“[I wish] for some sort of magic machine that would make people kinder, fairer and overall nicer so that they’ll treat women, migrant workers, refugees and anyone different better.”
Marina is a dynamic socio-political activist and writer.
She also founded the online travel publication, Zafigo, in line with her personal mission to advocate for solo women travellers in Asia to travel safely.
Tunku Zain Al-‘Abidin Tuanku Muhriz
Public policy-making advocate, newspaper columnist
“My wish for the New Year is that we don’t squander all the sacrifices and learnings that we made in 2020.
“Too many people have experienced hardship, poverty and discrimination made worse by Covid-19; but many lessons have been learnt on how to bounce back stronger.
“Hopefully this will be further augmented by a vaccine, and even more hopefully this will be enabled by a public policy agenda that places the wellbeing and prosperity of people first.”
Tunku Zain is the second son of the Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir,
He is the founding president of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), public policy-making advocate, newspaper columnist and sits on the board of few corporations and charity organisations.
He is also an avid sportsman, musician and seasoned traveller are just a few more roles taken up by this accomplished prince.
Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al Mustafa Billah Shah
Mental health advocate
“The pandemic has hit us all hard.
“I think we have all learnt that you don’t have to be Covid-19 positive to feel the effects of the pandemic somehow, in some way. Personally, I have never grown up like I have had to this year.
“The pandemic has pushed me to be a better mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend. I also think we have appreciated the importance of mental health, and I hope that these conversations continue in 2021.
“I hope to see positive changes in the level of empathy and compassion that we have for one another because everyone has something to work on. And I hope to see a more united, communal response to mental health.
“Psychosocial support in communities, for instance, is something that we can all play a role in, whether or not you are a mental health professional. I hope to get the message across even more that mental health is the responsibility of all.”
Tengku Puteri Iman was appointed National Coalition for Mental Wellbeing royal patron and was also the international patron for the World Mental Health Day 2020.
The Princess, who is the eldest daughter of Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has been empowering youth as well as providing support to women and new mothers through forums, collaborations and various initiatives.
Datuk Seri Nazir Razak
Veteran banker, prostate health advocate
“In 2021, I hope for an end to the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected the lives of so many.
“I also hope for the return of stable and constructive politics in Malaysia, which I believe is the foundation for investments and economic progress.”
Nazir is the youngest son of Malaysia’s second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and also the younger brother of former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
He is a well-known figure in Malaysia for his integral role in shaping and transforming CIMB Group Holdings Berhad into a leading regional financial group it is today.
He recently kicked off a five-year advocacy campaign to create awareness about prostate cancer among Malaysians after he recovered from the cancer last year.
Tan Sri Tony Fernandes
AirAsia Group chief executive officer
“A New Year is really a turning of one day and nothing dramatically changes. But I just hope that all Malaysians remain positive.
“It’s been a really tough year, but if we put our heads down, it’s going to be even tougher. We have to stand strong, use this [health] crisis and turn it into an opportunity.
“The lesson 2020 taught all of us was not to take things for granted, like going out or jumping on a plane at any time to go and visit people.
“Obviously, I’m optimistic and wish for a better year in 2021. Stay strong, be positive and make the most of your life.
“Although governments have been effective on lockdowns [to contain the spread of the Covid-19 infection], I hope to see more innovative ideas next year to unlock our lives.”
Fernandes is a renowned corporate figure known for turning AirAsia, a failing government-linked commercial airline, into a highly successful budget airline.
His efforts have won him numerous international awards and accolades within the aviation industry.
Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan
Lawyer and human rights activist
“We now clearly see (amongst other things) the fate of the vulnerable and marginalised communities and the economic and cultural disparities that exist in our country; the damage done to our environment, as well as politics and governance at its worst.
“My wish for 2021 is that we learn from the lessons of 2020 and confront and resolve the inequities that exist in our society.
“That we start respecting our environment.
“That we see the emergence of a new brand of politics and a new breed of politicians who respect and care for all (not just some), who respect institutions and good governance and who show humility, humanity and good faith.
“It is after all 2021.
Enough of the politics of old!”
Ambiga is a prominent lawyer and human rights activist.
She was one of the eight recipients of the US International Women of Courage Award in 2009.
HIV Advocate and PT Foundation chairman
My wish for 2021 is for all Malaysians to think and look at the future generation – their children and grandchildren – in what environment they will live in.
“For them to live in peace and harmony, we today must set the tone. We must inculcate mutual respect for one another irrespective of race, religion or wealth as starters. We need to educate the young on Global Warming so as to conserve Mother Earth.
“On the AIDS front, we must call a spade a spade and everyone must be educated on sexual reproductive health so as they can better their life. We have all this in theory and on paper but the problem has always been the practice.
“Finally elect MPs whom you believe in and not what they believe in.”
Hisham has been at the forefront of HIV prevention in the country for over three decades as PT Foundation chairman.
He was the honorary secretary for the Malaysian AIDS Council and Malaysian AIDS Foundation for more than two decades.
Datuk Dr Sha’ari Ngadiman
Selangor Health Director
“The Selangor state health department always works on upgrading the buildings and improving the work environment to ensure a positive work environment for not only the staff but also, the public who we provide these essential services for.
“We prioritise patient satisfaction along with service excellence.
“In Selangor, we try our best to ensure all our healthcare facilities are equipped with up to date technology, which is relevant to our service, suitable for our population and affordable for all.
“We hope to continue to improve as the technology tide rises and keep providing excellent service for all the people of Selangor.”
Syed Sadiq Albar
National unity activist
“Oh 2020, what a year you have been ― from dreams of industrialisation to getting all hands on deck to fight this virus.
“But 2020 has also shown me how we Malaysians can really work together and show compassion to one another during this difficult period. My wish for next year would be three things:
“Firstly [to stay] together as people of the world beat this pandemic now that the vaccine is here.
“Secondly, all that time spent together with family and loved ones has created a stronger love for one another and an unbreakable bond of understanding each other – may that last forever.
“Lastly, for me and all of us to appreciate the little things in life that we used to take for granted, like being outside more and exploring new experiences in out familiar spaces.”
Syed Sadiq is the co-founder of Projek57 ― a social enterprise set up to bring Malaysians together by promoting values perpetuated by the late Tunku Abdul Rahman.