Today and forty years ago

I just noticed today's date. I can't help comparing what happened forty years ago with what is happening now. Despite the media and public outcry over the Menteri-go-round in Perak (The Star's term, not mine), there has been relatively little violence. Yes, people were held under ISA for not apparent good reason, and SUHAKAM has criticised the police presence as being non-neutral and enforcing for only one side, but compared to what happened forty years ago, I think progress has been made.

Is it because both the parties involved have an ethnic mix? If it had to be characterised as a racial issue, it looks like a Malay vs Malay situation, set against the backdrop of the Sultan of Perak as community and political leader. Insofar as public response is concerned, it seems to have crossed all racial barriers: we're tired of this, can we go back to the business of running the country?

It is interesting to note that a lot of the players involved don't seem to understand the difference between standing up for your party and standing up for the rakyat you're meant to represent. I did always think that the State Assembly should have just held votes of no confidence in the Speaker and then-MB, and thus follow the line of public-appointed representatives making decisions at the state level (on behalf of their constituencies).

Obviously politics when mixed with law is not so easy to understand and interpret. To all those who claim that you should let the public decide, I say they did decide last April and all this that is happening now is a direct result of their decision. Who asked them to appoint MPs who would of such dubious character that they could find themselves embroiled in a corruption scandal? But then, who of us really take the time to know who we are voting for beyond their logo and catch-phrases.

Regardless, I reject the idea that just because you have multi-racial politics, you won't have multi-racial political arguments. I think one big difference between now and forty years ago is that we have in fact matured as a nation. I am happy for the courts to make decisions rather than to have Thai-style mob rule - people not getting beaten up should be taken as a positive development. And I am happy to see two sizable confrontational forces in Malaysian politics, because that's what check and balance in a democracy is all about.

Now, if we can just get rid of the hypocrisy and the self-serving attitude of those who should instead be serving us, then we'll be onto a good thing.

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posted on Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - permalink
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