Friday, September 19, 2008

Political Aftershock in Malaysia

At the last general election held in 8 March 2008, the world refers to its result as a political tsunami. Six months later, Malaysians are still trembling from the after shocks of Anwar Ibrahim’s post-election announcement that he will become the next Prime Minister of Malaysia within months.

The past few months see a country that is stenched with fear, distrust, anger and uncertainty. Today, it reveals to the world of its ruling government’s cowardise as the Prime Minister rejects Anwar Ibrahim’s request for dialogue.

Many have talked about the ethical issues surrounding Anwar’s crusade in obtaining support from BN members of parliament by means of defection, in order for his opposition party to gain the majority needed to rule the government. While the reaction of the people have been diverse; from indignation to full support and from ignorance to just plain fed-up.

As for me, my initial reaction was one which was combined with excitement and hope. Excitement because I voted for the opposition party during the election and of course would like to see the opposition rule the country. Hopeful because I felt that the country’s appaling records on human rights abuses, corruption, injustice might change for the better.

Now, I am uncertain with my previous conviction. Why is that? I think the answer is distrust. I have been brought up in a country where I was taught not to trust, including people who are supposed to be the guardians of our interest.

When I was younger, I have heard remarks like, “Don’t trust the Indians, they are liars”, “Don’t trust the Chinese because they will sell their souls to the devils for money,” and “Don’t trust the Malays. They will only look after their own interest.” Only the indigenous people, who are actually the real bumiputeras have been left out from such racial remarks. What an irony, isn’t it?

But of course, as I grow older and wiser, I have learnt that these are stereotypes passed down from our parents who have suffered the consequences of racial segregation and inbalance of political, social and economic power (thanks to the British for their divide and conquer tactic).

However, our colonial power is long gone and after more than five decades, what has the government done to unite this country? Racial sentiments are still being hurled, even by members of parliament. Sticks and stones may break my bone but hatred speech takes the ultimate toll on the human spirit.

This feeling of distrust has become a national disease, in my opinion. Senior politicians and judges are corrupt, police abuses their power, religious teachers and fathers molest their children. So yes, I might not hold the same racial stereotypes as my parents’ generation does, but I suffer from distrust towards the very people who are supposed to be the stalwarts of our rights.

Going back to why I am not as excited anymore and in fact rather concern about the potential crossover of 31 BN MPs to the opposition party. A senior lawyer wrote recently on the moral dilemma of political crossover. He maintains that party member who succumbs to this moral dilemma by crossing over in order to better serve and protect the Malaysians’ interest should not be condemned but forgiven.

My response was that I totally agree but at the same time, is this truly the case? If a party member is so burdened by its guilt in serving a party which has persistently infringed on the rights of the people, he or she would have crossed over by now, with or without Anwar Ibrahim’s nudge.

The injustice created by the ruling party is known by many since time immemorial. The fact that these individuals still choose to serve the BN, knowingly aware of its “political behaviour”, shakes the core foundation of my trust towards their motivation for defection. If Anwar Ibrahim can be their motivation for defection today, Najib or Khairy can do the same tomorrow. The fact that none of them have the guts to resign from their party voluntarily and independently but chooses instead to be a sheep led by a sheperd deflates my confidence towards their commitment to serve the people, but instead the leader.

A truly democratic country is one where its people choose their leaders at the ballot box. Sadly, BN still receive the majority votes but that is the reality of it. If the majority of people still think that BN is the best party to serve them, who are we to question that but to try and convince them to exercise their votes differently in the next election. For those of us who dispute this and would like to see the opposition gains majority, by virtue of lobbying for a cross-over would be to undermine the essence of democracy. Afterall, the people have voted for these individuals based on their political affiliation and mandate.

At this juncture, I am still hopeful that things will change for the better in Malaysia. Afterall, it has been proven by the people during the last election, which I have more faith than the potential crossover for the opposition to rule. In the end, it is changing the mindset of the people which is more important than political games.

Written on 17 September 2008.

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