TODAY is the first day of 2014. For most of us, waking up this morning is probably just like getting up any other morning. For many, the revelry of last night’s countdown still lingers. And for others, being out in the streets to protest against the rising cost of living will mark yet another milestone in their lives.
The calendar year is useful only because it puts some organisation and predictability into our lives.
For Malaysians, the new year will mean, among other things, the revised electricity tariff, higher toll and reduced subsidies. And, the resulting consequences, whether we like it or not, will be the rising cost of living.
For specific groups, 2014 will also have different meanings. The people of Johor, for example, will have to adjust to the new weekend of Friday and Saturday while the Federal Government, in implementing cost-cutting measures on 11 fronts, is acknowledging that we are indeed going through hard times.
It is to be expected that the private sector, too, will be making adjustments and this is where we need to be mindful of opportunists and those who are simply jumping onto the bandwagon to withhold the bounty even when the harvest is plentiful.
For the individual, learning to cope may involve reverting to past practices, like car-pooling, taking the bus to work, cooking a home meal or even fixing our own plumbing.
Lifestyle changes are never easy but the people who complain that they can hardly survive on a five-figure salary should relook their finances and learn some lessons from the majority who survive on so much less.
But what does the year herald for us collectively as a nation of people?
To look ahead, we also need to look back.
The 13th general election came and went but the “silly season”, judging by the continual harping on divisive and contentious issues, appears to be staying on longer than usual.
As citizens, we should all be involved in the political process. But we must also understand that politics is more than just about elections and politicians.
As we welcome 2014, let us remind ourselves to be concerned about the governance of this land.
As we have reflected before in this column in previous New Year editorials, this must include our desire to right the wrongs, to remember the marginalised, to promote transparency and accountability in all spheres of our national life – including the branches of government and the media – and to seek goodwill among all citizens of this blessed land of ours.
If we continue to declare to the world at large that we are a shining example of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural nation, we must be moderate in our approach and embrace, not just tolerate, our differences.
May this be our resolution for 2014. Happy New Year!
The STAR Online Home Opinion Columnist 01/01/2014