Saturday, December 31, 2011

Prevention, Cure & Damage Control

I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently. He happens to be a regular reader of this blog for a while now. We discussed at length about one of my recent articles, Aliens & Predators. In particular, he drew my attention to one of the paragraphs:

"If it's indeed true that citizenship had been given to foreigners by illegal means, it is somewhat too late now to remedy the situation. Imagine, for example, someone who did not deserve to be a Malaysian, but was able to buy the documents 10-20 years ago. When his children were born, they would have automatically become Malaysians. What are we gonna do now? Even if we could trace back to the root of those documents, how are we supposed to undo the mistake? Are we going to send off the children to the lands of their parents' which they've never known of?"

He said, "If you're truly convinced that it's too late now to remedy the situation; that we can't undo the mistake; what, then, is the use of finding out the truth?"

I looked at him sympathetically, and began my lecture style. I didn't mean to act as if I knew the answers to everything out there, but this kind of question simply drives me up the wall.

There is a popular saying—prevention is better than cure. It means, of course, that if one can help it, it is better to prevent a problem from arising, rather than trying to solve that problem later after it has arisen. This is especially true in the medical field because some "problems", i.e. diseases, have no known cure up to now. So the process of trying to find a cure may be much, much tougher—and costlier—than preventing that problem in the first place.

Having said that, however, just because there is no cure to the problem, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't investigate the nature of the problem anyway. The very least we can do is to apply damage control. The idea is to, first and foremost, understand the problem, and then hopefully come up with a strategy to prevent the problem from progressing further; as well as preventing it from happening again in the future.

Even if we can't do much to undo the mistake, we should at least investigate how undeserving people got to become Malaysian citizens. If indeed some people were abusing their powers, then perhaps preventive policies could be formulated to prevent the same thing from happening again in the future. It is imperative that we arrest the trend now, because it's doubtful that Sabah will be able to cope with another 300% growth in its population within the next 30 years. We really need to do something about that alarming figure; and we have to do it soon!

No comments: