Symptoms of a deeper ill

Yesterday, I wrote a simple post ” democracy is when I speak you listen”.  I also posted a remix of a video on the post.

The behaviour of the central figure of that video, nicknamed ‘Listen Listen Listen lady’, actually represents the symptoms of  a deeper ill that some of us in the civil society are trying to highlight and seek cure.

I wish to highlight a few points here:

1. In a forum or a dialogue, normally the organisers would invite a few designated speakers to speak on the topic for discussion. It will then be open for the audience to give their opinion or feedback. In this way, a 2 way communication can be established and different viewpoints can be heard and exchanged. New ideas often come out from such communication.

In such a dialogue, even if the audience gives very critical views and voices out something that is not to the likings of the organisers, the organisers should be big enough to allow such contrarian views to be heard.  Such views actually allow the policy makers/leaders  to really get access to what the ground has to say.  These policy makers are usually surrounded by aides and ladder-climbers who are all yes men trying to outdo each other by sugar-coating anything that the policy makers do. Only by listening to the ground, can policies be tuned and fine-tuned to benefit the people.

Even if there is no enough time, those speaking from the floor should be given time to windup their comments. To abruptly take away or turn off their mics is repression at its most blatant and against the principle of  freedom of speech .

2. Every country has its problems ( even animals have problems, agreed). There is no doubt about it. But do we want all the problems be swept under the carpets?

Only by listening to the people, can leaders or policy makers  learn about the problems. If there are problems in policies, then it is actually not wrong to look at what other countries do to tackle those problems.  Afterall, our ministers and top civil servants do conduct multi-million dollar study tours overseas to see how things are done overseas, and whether those things can be applied in our country.

So when someone highlighting a problem comparing our country to other countries, the leaders and policy makers should take heed and try to see whether such policies as adopted by other countries have any merits and whether we can learn anything from those countries. Only by doing so that we can improve ourselves.

Other wise, we would be like the proverbial  frog in the bottom of a well. We would be like some of the North Koreans thinking that their country is the best in the world.

3. It is also very wrong that whenever someone compares Malaysia with other countries, there would be insinuation that he/she should  leave the country and do not need to stay here.  It is precisely because we love Malaysia that we would like to help solve any problem that the country is facing, by bringing it to the attention of the authority. It is precisely that we want our country to be as successful as others that we point out the differences with others that we can emulate. It is precisely that we love and are loyal to our country that we highlight the problems.

All of us want our homes to be as confortable as possible and sometimes we emulate our neighbours to install air conditioners, buy washing machines and so on to make our lives easier. The same analogy applies: we want our country to be a better place so that all of us can live better.

4. The ‘I know best” mentality of many of our leaders. It is this sort of arrogance, by thinking that as leaders they know best, that BN has lost so much of ground in the last election.

5. Last but not least , I was disappointed with the audience. They are mainly university students. They will be future leaders in the government and the private sector. They clapped when Bawani was putting forward her points, seemingly supporting her stand. They clapped as loudly when Bawani was being berated, as if supporting the organiser Sharifah. What kind of audience was that? Don’t they have a stand? or were they just spectators watching a Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight? Does the inertness of this group reflect the state of our education? I shudder to think.

Overall, the behaviour of the organiser typifies that of some of our leaders– arrogant with a I-Know-Best attitude, repressive, not open to criticism, abusive and so on.

We really need to do away with this type of mentality if Malaysia is to go forward.

This article is also published in theMalaysianInsider.

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Democracy is when I speak you listen!

when i speak you listen

This is why Malaysia is where we are today:

Listen, Listen, listen, listen, listen, listen, when I speak, you listen

Listen, listen, listen,we are big shots and  you are nobody, you listen when we speak

Listen, listen listen, democracy is when I speak you listen!

we have come a long way

The big mammoth gathering at Merdeka Stadium on 12 January 2013 affirms certain things:

1. That people who supported various causes, such as AntiLynas, Bersih for clean election etc are peace loving people and can gather harmoniously and peacefully. This also reflected badly on the handling of some of the previous rallies, such as Bersih 3.0, in which excessive force were used to break up (some called it to punish) the rally, resulting in many people including journalists suffering various forms of injuries. After this peaceful rally, it would be hard for the authority in future to deny the holding of rallies  or to use force to crackdown . Malaysia has certainly come a long way since Merdeka.

2. That there is still massive support for the opposition despite the handling out of goodies. For everyone who is there, there will be many times more who prefer to stay back at home or who for one reason or another could not attend. This blogger, for example,  was unable to attend since I was down with Gastroenteritis with diarrhoea and fever , resulting me from taking leave from my clinic, and the fear of unable to control my bowels forced me to make the decision to stay away from this rally. Despite the handouts, which may have more effects in ‘buying’ support from rural folks, most urbanites would just take  the handouts and still vote the perceived better side, without being sway by the goodies.

3. That the coming election is still touch and go. even a top office bearer of an Government linked bank has indicated according to his calculation, the opposition has a slight chance of winning. Even some of the BN politicians privately concede that if 2008 was tough, this is even tougher. That may be one of the reasons why after so many wolf cries, election has still not be held.

I have personally stated many times that I think despite the good support for the opposition, it should not take things for granted and at this stage more than another other time, it should try to avoid publicly stating anything that may seem divisive to the coalition . It should also not try to be complacent and act as if the battle has been won. Well, even though many battles have been won, the war itself has not.

At this stage, the opposition should  concentrate on winning and do what they have down so well:  concentrate attacking the wrong doings of the incumbents, concentrate on issues that have won them support (like antiLynas, corruption, wastage or abuse of power) and expose any wrong doings.

Of course,  BN would also be going all out to expose any wrong doings of PR. This is actually good for the people. This is what a 2 party system should be: check and balance which will ultimately lead to better governance. At the same time, it should, even at this eleventh hour, try to cleanse itself of corrupt candidates and officials in order to try to win back some of the support. Merely giving handouts may not work as well as they expect. It is policy changes and real transformation to a cleaner and fairer government that will gain back support.

Malaysia has come a long way. We are starting to dismantle many of the barriers to true democracy. While we journey on, there are still many bumps and holes in our path, but we should all persist to overcome all the difficulties.

The light at the end of the tunnel is now brighter!