“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. If that is granted, all else follows”
― George Orwell, 1984

16 months ago, I decided to come home.

Transitioning into my late 20s, my hope and vision for my nation is optimistic. I knew that was my gift. And I was destined to thrive and make my country a better place for everyone. I joined our country’s premier think tank upon my arrival a week after my return. An elite institution that crafted once our country’s Vision 2020. The nation’s crème de la crème. I was adamant and eager to see my country unleashing its full potential.

I wanted to examine how a pluralist society in Malaysia transitioned itself from the status of primarily a commodity-based economy to a successful case of development to many developing countries. What were the strategies adopted and what were the nation’s priorities? How decisions are principally made and in whose interest?

I didn’t know what to expect. I was about to unravel a Pandora box and was all ready to go behind the headlines and defy statistics. My meddling mind was and still is seeking for clarity. The floating clouds of nuances are gaining gravity.

I knew it was not going to be easy to untie the knots. All these questions beg for an array of perspectives and interpretation in viewing both the historical and contemporary transition in Malaysia. Naturally, my interest of my nation’s socio-economic and environmental development and context deepens.

Yet 16 months later, my expectations and hope for the nation are now tethering on the brink of despair.

After 58 years of independence, my resource abundant country was left in the lurch of rampant corruption, pervasive crony capitalism and patronage politics in the pursuit of development. The abuse of law and order is an everyday norm. Political dissenters are threatened and sent to jail. In the face of our country’s pivotal and rapidly transitioning phase, I have witnessed my country has fallen into political bigotry.

Finally, the inevitable question at this juncture is while navigating its position in the global arena and forging national identity to achieve common good, what are the prospects for future development?

I wanted to come home, to a place I was born, a place that I could meaningfully, tirelessly and purposely serve and most importantly, a place worth fighting for.

16 months later, I’m still clinging on to his hope.