Sunday, July 22, 2007

Malaysian Dilemma

By Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew

As a Malaysian, you are either well-informed or ill-informed. That’s because the ruling government controls all the mainstream media and they decide what to print or air to the Malaysian public, but those with their own mind wanted to know more and they seek information and news from the Internet portals.

The future of this country depends on the well-informed citizens. But the ill-informed have been helping the ruling elites directly and indirectly to retain their power. And sadly but true, they outnumbered the well-informed by no less than 20%. And this was reflected in every general elections.

Malaysians are now troubled by rising crime rates, institutionalised corruption, abuse of powers, sluggish economy, escalating religious unrests and widespread racial slurs under a terribly weak leadership. The prime mnister of this country holds two other important Cabinet positions and yet he loves to travel overseas for holidays and vacations. Not vey much… it’s 84 occasions in the last 45 months. He has just gone on leave again (honeymoon?) soon after he came back from the Europe. He even tried to keep it as a secret.

Malaysians in general are now living in a grace period. Very soon, this nation will turn from a net oil exporter into a net oil importer by year 2010. Both the Petronas chief and a Cabinet minister have confirmed it. Without the oil money (some RM67.6 billion before tax for the year 2006), can the ruling elites still afford the massive bailouts for their cronies and the ‘white elephants’ all over the country?

The ruling elites have rotten to the core. As long as they continue to rule, there would be no future for this country.

As a way out, the well-informed citizens have wanted a change of government but this was not possible because they were smaller in numbers than the ill-informed. Plus the fact that the ruling power have been resorting to cheating, intimidating and buying support from the voters, both in general and by-elections.

To change the government also calls for a united opposition. But the opposition was divided by some ‘unnecessary’ conflicting ideologies and divisive elements. That adds to the frustration of many well-informed Malaysians. They have complaining about lack of viable alternatives. Can the opposition leaders continue to ighore the stark realities before them? No party interest can be bigger than the people’s interest.

It’s always a daunting task to transform the ill-informed into well-informed. They are people who accepts whatever printed in the newspapers. Some even refuse or no time to read the newspapers.

Many are reluctant to go to the Internet media to seek the true picture. And it’s almost impossible to get them to attend political gatherings, forums and talks. The fear of ISA, OSA and the special branch is still very real to these people.

The ruling elites know it too well and that’s why they have no qulams to black-out the media and use the police to cripple the activities of the oppostion parties. And all university lecturers and students were stifled by the draconian Universities and University Colleges Act.

On top of all that, you have an Election Commission which behaves more like a component party to the ruling coalition. That makes it extremely difficult to unseat the ruling incumbents.

But we must never lose hope in ourselves. The opposition parties and NGOs finally realise the importance of electoral reforms in order to make a change of government a possibility. Bersih is formed under this political bachdrop and deserves the support and endorsement of every thinking Malaysian.

Personally, I hope Bersih can step up its activities to reach out to all Malaysians, both in the rural and urban centres. It’s through proper education and effective awareness campaigns that we have a chance to turn the ill-informed into well-informed.

It’s time for the royalty to take a serious look at the electoral system if the ruling elites refuse to adopt any reforms to perpetuate their power by risking the future of its entire nation. Democracy may not be a perfect political system. But we have not seen a prosperous and progressive nation that shuns the democratic process.

For true democracy to flourish in this country, I strongly suggest that Bersih must take the case to HRH Yang diPertuan Agong. And His Royal Highness certainly has the influence and power to help shape the future of this nation.

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