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.