Mindset is defined as “a fixed state of mind” according to Merriam Webster. Notice the word “fixed”.
The big buzz in Senator Obama’s US presidential race is “Change”. A change in the way the country is run, a change in foreign policy and how he thinks America should handle the Iraq war, a change in increasing tax for the rich and minimizing the astronomical deficit. The most important change that might happen is getting a black American elected in office as POTUS. Talking to some American rig hands on board – they blatantly answered that America is not yet ready for a black President and this is coming from grass root people. Sure, poor Black Americans especially those discriminated during Katrina in New Orleans would willingly vouch for Obama, hands down, but does this swing the entire pendulum to Obama’s side? Less than 50% turned up to vote in 2004 and it was almost a 50/50 split. It clearly means 50% of voters (who didn’t turn up) don’t really care and have better things to do.
However, Obama did set some tones in his “change” regime such as the use of Facebook for campaigning and the massive fund raising he collected through the Net. Clinton staffers were still struggling to teach her how to use the Blackberry. What does this have to do with mindset? It’s got to do with everything. If majority of Americans who turn up to vote has a fixed mindset that they’re not ready for a black President, then they’re not ready. Simple as that. Not because he’s not qualified or he doesn’t represent the right values, but because he’s black – period. Like it or not, some Americans will vote for him because he's black and some will not vote for him because he's black.
How about Malaysia? People are still interested about bloggers, freedom of speech, DSAI, why Pak Lah should step down, demonstrations, provoking Malays by questioning their rights, why Malays need the crutches and why Malaysians deserve more subsidies because Petronas is churning out money left, right and center?
While we quarrel about things that happened in the past like the Tun Salleh Abas saga, Vietnam is set to overtake Malaysia in terms of GDP soon (although the calculation of GDP is questionable in today’s economic sampling). Australia has exported their proven fuel cell technology. The French number 1 export is electricity from nuclear power. US is adamant to keep their tertiary education system private and competitive, as it is the best in the world (Harvard boasts of approximately USD20B in endowment funds). China is now set to produce more than 6.4 million passenger vehicles a year with 120 car makers in the country and will overtake Germany as the third biggest manufacturer, after the US and Japan (In 1979, China was just manufacturing 13000 cars). Cars in the future are expected to be cheaper, lighter, smaller and more fuel-efficient. Americans are trading in their humongous SUVs for efficient Prius (to some extent. Houstonians still love their Cayennes, Lincoln Navigators and big Ford pick ups – very “oil field”-like). This is the global scenario.
While Google, Johnson & Johnson, Ebay and Swatch Group continue to increase their global economic influence and decentralize their organizations like a starfish, we are still bickering about petty things (some think they're not petty). Obviously the majority of Malaysians mindset is still fixed at being at “bickering petty issues” level (like whether to wear the Songkok when swearing in or whether we should raise our left hand when swearing in as MP). We vote for our politicians for certain criterion and they are our voice at Parliament. If some of the rookie and veteran MPs at Parliament are labeled as childish and talking rubbish, they represent the voice of their constituents, isn't it ‘safe’ to conclude that the Malaysians they represent are still thinking about petty things? If this is not so, why did we vote for that politician? Or is it because we vote for the party regardless of candidate? Or is it because the lack of viable candidates these days? In the end, it boils down to our mindset as voters, politicians, constituents, Malaysians.