Selamat Hari Malaysia :)
This post is mostly about attitudes. In light of Najib’s 2011 Malaysia Day announcements, we come face to face with the question of how we should react.
Indubitably, we have witnessed the full spectrum – from unbridled jubilation to the most bitter cynicism and disbelief.
Unoriginally, I find myself somewhere in the middle. I do not share the sentiment of those who feel that Najib is now God’s gift to Malaysia, nor do I share the sentiment that this announcement is an insignificant move by a political enemy that must be hated at all costs.
(I also will, unsurprisingly, not be changing my vote to BN, but will be interested to hear if you may be planning to do so?)
My view is basically centers around the following:
- That this is a significant step
- That credit goes to all those who have fought against the government for so long to achieve this
- That this is still just an announcement, and much much much remains to be seen before we consider objectives realised.
So I will not begrudge the Prime Minister some credit, but fully agree with those that state that full credit can only be given when the promised reforms are actually carried out according to the principles we believe in (no detention without trial, protection of basic human rights, and so on).
In general, I believe in being generous with credit – it’s seldom that important. In this case however, I feel that being grateful to the government for these reforms is like being grateful to the British for granting Malaya independence.
Like colonisation, these laws should never have existed/survived in the first place, and this is but one of many things that need to be put right.
Most importantly, we should recognise the stark reality that these reforms would never, ever have taken place if not for pressure from the rakyat.
Only because so many before us have pressed for it for so long have we achieved this milestone. We will never forget their sacrifices, or the unimaginable suffering so many have gone through.
It has been said that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and I feel that vigilance is indeed what is required now. I feel that the following are some of the most pressing things to look out for:
- Will the reforms actually happen before the next general election? (Or is this an insincere election gimmick that will fail to realise after the elections?)
- Will we see the closing of all centers for detention without trial, with all current detainees released or brought to court? (I wonder especially about Selvach, who never seems to be far from my mind)
- Will the new laws, alongside old ones like the very vaguely worded and easily abused Sedition Act (of which no mention was made), allow the government to abuse its powers in the same way?
Some questions related to reforms regarding the power of the authorities over citizens also include:
- As no mention was made of the IPCMC, will the police continue to abuse its powers in ways that it has done in the past? (Kugan, Aminulrasyid, Gunasegaran, Chia Buang Hin, etc)
- Will there be any meaningful findings in the deaths of Teoh Beng Hock or Ahmad Sarbani?
Lastly, as we cross this hump, let us take some time to think of what other major problems that plague our country. We welcome these reforms, but let them not be a distraction from other cancers still running rampant in our nation:
- These reforms should not be a distraction from Bersih’s 8 demands. They are not a replacement for the electoral reform Malaysia so badly needs in order to be a genuine, clean democracy.
- Corruption in the order of billions of ringgits continues to burn a hole of immense proportions in the coffers of our nation. Our top leaders should not be allowed to paint reform with one hand, and continue stealing from the rakyat with the other.
- Ethnic polarisation continues to gnaw away at our national fabric. In order to work towards true unity, we need to continue pushing for the depoliticisation of race, and the removal of race based parties from the center of political life.
These are the things I find myself thinking about on the heels of our historic victory. Many still suffer among us, so let us cheer for a while for what we have achieved here, but then continue on with the mountains of work that lay ahead of us.
ps- it seems I may be able to grow my hair back out a little earlier than expected :P