It's nearly 41 years ago to the day, Malaysia witnessed a landmark event in its history. The event is known as the May the 13th Incident or the Sino-Malay Sectarian violence of Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia after getting its independence in 1963, Kenyans keep note of that year, saw increasing economic inequality between the Chinese and the indigenous Malay people. The newly formed Malaysia included Malaya (the Malaysian Peninsular), Singapore, North Borneo and Sarawak. However in 1964, race riots brought about by the perceived inequality between the wealthy Chinese and the poorer Malay. Most Malay were angered by the fact that the government was willing to look the other side placating Chinese interests at the expense of the indigenous Malay. These issues persisted up till the elections of 1969.

In the run up to the elections, there was a great deal of racial rhetoric being fanned by the political parties. The elections saw the Alliance party gain majority in the national parliament. This was all well and good but the key thing was that there was a tie with the Democratic Action Party that was predominantly Chinese for control over the State Legislature for Selangor. Selangor is the richest province in Malaysia. The DAP in a sense claimed victory and on 12th May arranged a procession through Kuala Lumpur to celebrate. The rowdy processions went well up till the point where the procession path diverted into Kampung Baru, a predominantly Malay area. The Chinese while passing through this area were carrying brooms in a sense suggesting that they would sweep the Malay off the face of Malaysia. This invariably stirred the existing tensions. On May 13th individual incidents between the two races lead to an all out race war. Many deaths were reported and a State of emergency was called by the government. The National Operations Council intervened to run the country and it is worth mentioning that Parliament didn't intervene till 1971.

The government that took over from here saw that they could no longer placate Chinese interest at the expense of the Malays and they responded by implementing affirmative action policies that were referred to as the New Economic Policy (NEP) of 1969. Some saw this measure to be draconian as it further entrenched very strong Malay priviledges into the constitution. Years on the affirmative action measures have failed to bear any tangible benefits for the Malay as the inequality still exists. It is so bad that the national statisitcs office does not release official income statistics due to their sensitivity. This has lead to the government lead by the prime minister Najib Razak unveiling a New Economic Model.

What has this got to do with Kenya, you may ask yourself. Well, if the similarities are not yet apparent yet, you may need to look at recent events in Kenya. The Post-election violence would be a good place to start. You see, regardless of the efficacy of the steps that Malaysia took after 1969 to reduce economic tensions, the fact is that they responded to a crisis and averted the break down of a Nation. The social cohesion present in the country has lead to the country being a middle income country and it is now planning to be a developed country by 2020. 10 years earlier than 2030 where we plan on being a middle income nation. The Malaysian authorities can be credited for responding rather than just sweeping their issues under the carpet.

In Kenya, we face the similar situation. We have the choice of staying on the current path and facing similar tensions in 2012 or we have the chance at least to take the monumental leap and create a new constitution. However, there is a great deal of noise over this process and as each day passes the chances of getting a new contitution gets slimmer and slimmer as the noise gets louder and louder.

I am really angered by the Church's position on both the Kadhi courts and the abortion debate. They completely lack perspective and someone can serioulsy question their collective memory and compassion for the country. In terms of Kadhi courts, I really don't get how for people who begin their National anthem by 'Oh God of all creation" can refer to the kadhi situation as something that will favour Islam over Christianity.  Clearly the anthem already shows a national acceptance of biblical creationism and yet the church conveniently overlooks this fact when arguing against the kadhi courts issue. On the note of abortion, the constitution clearly states that abortion would only be legal, if a medical practitioner deems it to be necessary if the mothers life is in danger. I really don't understand what is wrong with this, would they rather a wife, sister, mother or daughter lose their life in order to uphold biblical teachings? If their relatives were in the same situation, would they rather lose their relatives and maybe also lose the child just to uphold the bible?.

For me the church for too long has gotten away with spiritual blackmail to further their ends. They use this same blackmail to get concessions with their schools, universities, construction permits and so on. It is a sense of "if you deny us this, then curses be upon you". I think it is about time for common sense to prevail and a utilitarian sense of doing for the greater good prevail. Let us learn like the Malaysians did and not drive our country into deep problems. The difference between progress and stagnation is adapting and learning rather than sweeping stuff under the carpet. The new constitution is our chance to adapt and learn and hopefully undo a sense of perceived inequalities. We should not look back and regret that we had a chance to change but we didn't.