THIS space — the NST Leader — is arguably the most important one in this newspaper.
It takes a stand on issues that are of national import. At times, it advances a view on an idea that is of great significance to the people.
At other times, this editorial strives to begin a conversation of cardinal value. The NST Leader is as old as the newspaper. A good 174 years. In this sense alone, this space is prime “real estate”.
Close to six generations have been “eyeing” this space. We like to think that the NST Leader has fashioned changes for the better. Because the New Straits Times is of the view that the best of opinions are those which effect change. In striving to continue to do this shall our glory be.
There have been opinions from commentators, analysts and thought leaders that have effected change, too. This newspaper has given such pieces of writing ample space, and it continues to do so because we believe they argue for progress of our society as a whole.
Other media have done their bit, too. So have books and prints of one form or another.
Such opinions matter because the verbalised thoughts that go to make them do sometimes change the course of history.
Our history is one such story. So is the history of the rest of the world. Change came about because someone somewhere decided to put his opinion to paper.
Imagine if the space was not made available to the opinion leaders, the course of the world’s history may have been different. Yes, opinion matters.
One such opinion that has gained traction in print and online is the view that Malaysia should do something about its low wages policy.
Writing in the New Straits Times op-ed pages, Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong argues for a higher pay for everyone as a national imperative to keep the economy going.
Employers and some others have a different view. But that is not the point. The point is to put pen to paper to argue the case, whatever that may be.
Perhaps the time for higher wages is some distance away. But one opinion leader has put his thoughts across for the nation to consider. It is to such opinions that we attach great value.
Because opinions such as this move the nation forward.
But not all opinions matter. Occasionally, we do have the misfortune of dealing with opinionated opinions that are really arguments devoid of ideas or theories in support of them.
They do not push the nation forward. To be brutal, they are just wasted words said in anger. Unhappily, some do enjoy looking back in anger.
Perhaps they have to be schooled on how to advance an idea, to offer a view sans spite. Rhetoric with a cocktail of malice and prejudice steals the time from a nation that must hurry with the affairs of the state.
Opinions that polarise do no good. These will only lock the country into inaction. Compromises must be found. Malaysia’s history is replete with compromises. We can all learn from them.