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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Malaysians Maturing Politically

In my last post I concluded with "Malaysians have lived through a number of these abuses for a while now. It would be interesting to see how fed-up we, Malaysians, are of the such political abuses and stupidities. I wonder whether Malaysians are desperate for a change?" As we've seen, by the early hours of 9th March 2008, Malaysians showed they are immensely FED-UP with the going-ons in the country lately. Earlier on, one could actually feel the ticking of a time bomb ready to explode, the 'desperation for a change' being the time bomb. Most thinking Malaysians felt it. Only the BN ruling coalition didn't. And the coalition paid dearly.

Lucky for the ruling coalition, the explosion was not a total annihilation. It merely dented the ruling coalition rendering it nearly ineffective by denying it the two-thirds majority that it so desperately needed to continue with its merry-way of governing. The time-bomb also took down 4 crucial and the richest states in Malaysia in addition to the long-time opposition state of Kelantan. This is a first in Malaysia's history, and it shocked all Malaysians and onlookers.

Many seasoned politicians and long timers were toppled and sent off to political retirement by green horns and first-timers. I know a great number of Malaysians were jumping for joy in the wee hours of the morning of 9th March 2008 as Malaysia woke up to a 'New Dawn' as Anwar Ibrahim, the founder of Malaysia's first multiracial party, PKR, puts it. Congratulations and our profound thanks to Anwar for orchestrating a well-coordinated opposition, uniting them and putting up a great battle for oppressed Malaysians. You gave Malaysians hope when we thought there was none. We salute you, Datuk Seri!

Uniting different races within a single party is in itself a daunting task. That Anwar could galvanize the the different racial parties which represent differing extremities is just mind boggling. But the time must have been right, too. Malaysians have advanced and matured. Many factors contributed to this. Malaysians are more educated, we know good governance when we see one. Being more educated have opened the Malaysian minds; when you know more, you understand more. When you understand more, you become more understanding, more tolerant. And tolerance is the cornerstone that keeps Malaysia's multiracial society intact. We have always touted our multiracialness, but never before has this been put to test till now. It is a wonderful feeling to see that Malaysians can pass the test - Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazan, Dusun, Bajau, Iban, Dayak, etc can actually work together. Yes, Malaysians have passed the test, but beware, it is only the preliminaries. Malaysians have shown that there is hope for unity; we can be united if we desperately want to. The daunting task lays ahead. Our biggest task yet is to be committed to our cause to stay united. To stay united, Malaysia must have the political maturity in order to rise above petty racial and religious disagreements. By last weekend polling, it is obvious that Malaysian have come a long way...Malaysians are becoming politically matured. And as we progress, let us work towards a more heightened political maturity.

Technology contributed somewhat. The media and the Internet not only give us better access to information and knowledge but also offer more avenues whereby to voice our thoughts, our beliefs, our frustrations. But the media and Internet are but mere tools, we still have to fall back on our political maturity to make rational and cautioned use of such tools at our disposal so as not to antagonize and anger people like some quarters did in the last campaign.

The game plan is to stay united so that the Alternative Coalition or as Anwar puts it, the 'Government-in-Waiting' will become the Government of Malaysia come next elections. The Alternative Coalition has only succeeded in the easiest task. Now, comes the difficult part: fulfilling the promises you have made, and delivering to the people. Keeping your promise and delivery will ensure the people's solid support. Because if the Alternative Coalition can commit, serve and deliver effectively, then you would have, in essence, practised fairness, transparency and great political maturity in good governance.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Of Elections, Exercising Our Rights & Voting Wisely

The time has come again for us to exercise our right to vote in Malaysia. The past few weeks have been hectic cos I was co-opted to focus a bit on the elections via my job. Somehow, I have come to believe that politics in my country, and especially the state where I live, brings out the worst in people. Maybe it's the same everywhere, maybe it's just here. Still, politics puts so much power in the hands of a few, and everywhere which way you turn, you see the greed, the abuse, the corruption, the money-salivating politicians at their worst.

I often wonder why politics have to be so dirty, so negative, so evil. Am I just being a simpleton for wanting politics to be good for people? Let me rephrase, politics per se should be good because politics is the art or science of government and works for the people. Hence, it should be good because anything that serves the people has to be good. Then how come politics in this modern day and age reeks of everything negative and stinky under the sun? Answer, politics is a good art/science, only the politicians, the humans, make it bad. Through politics, we put power in the hands of a few, and humans are the only creatures on the face of the earth capable of abusing power in every single way.

But lucky for us, i.e., those of us living in democracies, we are given the right to choose the government, and to exercise that right every 5 years or so in the election process. However, even that simple right doesn't amount to much when ingenious politicians cheat and tamper with justice within a democratic system of government. Where I live, the word 'Election' only conjures money politics, political frogs that can be bought, and ghost voters (mostly from neighbouring countries and given citizenship so that they can tilt the elections results whichever way according the the whims and fancies of the powers that be).

Still, elections work most of the time. We have been able to brings down dictatorial Goliaths in the past. The feeling is great when simple village folks are able to overthrow the government once in the while. But then again, this democratic process can't run away from, again, the human factors in terms of emotions, emotional, racial and religious affinities. These human factors are what can ruin justice. So, there are many, many cases here where the simple folks keep on voting the same politicians and keeping them in power for decades when as their so-called representatives, these politicians had not done much to bring progress and development back to the people. The voters keep forgiving them over and over again because they share the same race or the same religion. I hope this country will change the law to allow the head of the government, both state and national, to serve ONLY TWO (2) terms. This has worked well for the USA. It should be used by countries like Malaysia and Indonesia where apparently it is most need. Allowing the head of government to serve only 2 terms will surely do away with a great deal of political evils such as nepotism and cronyism, and make politics become the good art/science of government that truly serve the people.

Polling day in Malaysia will be on 08th March 2008. I have not voted in the last two elections because the results are predictable, the same government will remain in power. But like I said, if you let the same government have staying power far too long, so much negativity will ensue. Abuses such as nepotism and cronyism will allow people in the corridors of power, the Executive, to even influence, impact and control the Judiciary. The country's Executives can easily pick and choose their own to control the judicial system. It goes without saying that a government having power for too long will monopolize and mismanage the country's finances and economics, keeping the money for themselves and their own.

Malaysians have lived though a number of these abuses for a while now. It would be interesting to see how fed-up we, Malaysians, are of the such political abuses and stupidities. I wonder whether Malaysians are desperate for a change? Come tomorrow, let's exercise our right to vote and vote wisely.