The uproar against the Computing Professionals Bill is just another symptom of a disease that is plaguing the government. Since 2004, we have seen on numerous occasions the flipflopping of government policies. These are all symptoms of a government that is out of sync with the people. A government that is out of sync with the time.
This year alone, we have seen the debacle of mishandling of Bersih 20. We have seen the tabling and subsequently amending the Bill for peaceful assembly. We have seen the proposed appointment of a Muslim as head of a renowned catholic school. We are now seeing the probable withdrawal of the Computing Bill. These are all symptoms of the same disease.
The world is no more top down, like in the feudal era. Each individual can now become a reporter, writer and publisher as well as a video maker through posting on the net. As a result, every individual can now be potentially very influencial just by posting the right thing at the right moment. The jobs of influencing people’s mindsets is no longer the sole monopoly of the state controlled main stream media. We have seen how through the use of facebook and internet, mobilisation of the masses became successful in Egypt, and the Arab world.
Just this month, a commercial giant Coca Cola has to withdraw its new ‘white’ can from the market (read here and wsj), after people started to complain through the use of social media and the net (who would associate white cans with coke?). If Coca Cola thinks that branding is their sole right, they got the shock of their life by the vehement protests against the white can in the net. So the management has to eat humble pie and withdraw the white can. If public opinion can now be so powerful to humble a commercial giant, then no government can act unilaterally and shove unpopular policies down the throat of the people. This is no longer the era of the 80s or 90s, where dictatorial regimes could do almost anything they like to their people and no one would make even a soft moan.
The advent of the internet has made this a flat world. Everyone with a computer now is like having a whole library, printing press and movie factory at his service. Unless a country is totally shut off from the rest of the world, like North Korea, indoctrination can no longer work. Rather it should now be a case of cousultation and dialogue, whether actual or virtual.
It would serve any government well to consult and seek opinion from the people about any new policies or laws that it is formulating. It would also serve any government well not to have too much of legislation and restrictions to stifle the innovative and free spirits of the people. It would also serve a government well not to abuse the trust given by the people.
As it is, our leaders are living in ivory towers and expensive ‘cow’dominium that have separated them from the masses, and they have time and again show their ignorance of the people’s aspirations and desire in this modern time. These include political leaders holding high offices, top civil servants and top enforcement officers. The politicians who are supposed to be the masters and law makers are so busy cutting ribbons and attending publicity functions that they have hardly had time for browsing the net, and get feed back from the people. Whatever feedback they have is from their aides, the people surrounding them. But like eunuchs of the past, many of these aides have agenda of their own and many would not want to disclose bad news to the masters. This is espeically so for those top leaders who only like to listen to good news about themselves, and get very angry nd upset whenever their aides are trying to tell the truth that is not pleasant to hear.
It would therefore be wise for the leaders to come down to the people’s levels and listen more to the ground. Listen to the voices asking for change; people are asking for real change , not cosmetic ones.
The world has moved so fast that many leaders are caught unprepared for the changes . They would do well to spend more time on the ground and in the net rather than attedning publicity functions.
After all, a government that is out of sync with the masses would just not last long.