On Jan 28, 2011, an e-mail circular on a UK students’ session with the Selangor Menteri Besar, sparked a very spirited discussion on the LoyarBurok e-group. Below is Aston Paiva‘s response to the series of e-mails on our skewed conception of Freedom, Independence and Justice.
I never blame the politicians. I only blame the public. It would be unreasonable to blame the politicians. They are people just like everyone else; they get their values, their ideas, their perspectives, their vision, their dreams and their desires from the people around them. Our leaders are ultimately a reflection of what the Malaysian public truly stands for and is willing to put up with.
Let’s contemplate this: Can you really spot any difference between the 3 Perak party hoppers and the rest of the Sultans during the colonial period? There are none. All were driven by the lull of security, self interest and had no qualms whatsoever living in dishonour.
Let us never forget, this wasn’t a country that was formed through the blood of martyrs or people in the veins of Patrick Henry or Mahatma Gandhi; people who believed in liberty and who understood what it meant and how precious it is. This country was formed by a bunch of royals who received payment in exchange for land; trading the liberty of their “subjects” for mere handouts by colonialists, cowering before their colonial masters instead of standing valiantly, bartering freedom for security.
This country is not a product of valour and labour, it is a product of convenience and cowardice. In that respect, I am not proud of Malaysia.
However, that is not the end of things. I’d like to see this nation rebuilt. People’s values need transvaluation. Our current conception of Freedom, Independence and most importantly Justice is skewed and it needs to be realigned.
Our Non Muslim, Non Malay and East Malaysian population in particular need to be treated with dignity and emboldened to feel that they have a place in this country, that they are of value irrespective of what utility they can provide to others, that they are not squatters in a place they can never call home.
The Malay Muslim community on the other hand need to be empowered to tell their religious leaders to take their nonsense and shove it.
We have a lot of work to do. Complaining can be a good thing, it lets you get your thoughts out and most times a person is at his most honest self when he is most angry. Others can take note, learn to reassess themselves and see where they have faltered and if they should change themselves or their ways.
The fundamental liberties enshrined in Part II of the Constitution is superior in nature and I think we should be dissuaded from meaningless arguments on the evils of democracy. I have only too often noticed that people who make ‘anti democratic’ stands either have an infantile understanding of political history or have simply discounted ‘Constitutionalism‘, ‘Rule of Law‘ and ‘Separation of Powers‘ from their argument all together.
Democracy while meaning ‘majority rule’ doesn’t mean that the fundamental liberties (inherent to all, minority or majority) can be subjected to vote. In that respect, there can never be an argument of the majority putting the minority into a subordinate position.
I can think of no other system of political governance that has worked the best. For now, this is the most workable model. Until the citizenry becomes more mature and is capable of greater self regulation, then this is what we must live with. To have governance is in itself a plague on humanity but as Churchill wisely commented, “Democracy is the best of the worst.”
So, to bring things back now. The next general elections. Are we to make our politicians more accountable? Perhaps. But I think the more important task is to make the citizenry more accountable to themselves. To make them feel that there is more than just political parties and big names, that there are issues, problems, disputes, conflicts and blatant transgressions of fundamental liberties and human rights. And that there are stories and personal lives behind these stories:
This is going to be our task for the months, years and decades to come. We can write in LoyarBurok, engage in advocacy, institute Court cases, organise forums and debates, have peaceful assemblies, write to the press and international media, get involved in the LoyarBurok Rakyat centre etc. Whatever you do, the key target here remains to be the Malaysian public. If you enlighten them and do it from now, you can certainly see a brighter future and a series of better leaders coming our way.
Aston Paiva recommends the movie ‘Into the Wild’ by Sean Penn. Go watch it right now!