Sunday, November 19, 2006

95] Vote for virtues, not vultures

Vote for virtues, not vultures
Azly Rahman
Nov 13, 06 1:12pm
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After 12 years of a Republican-controlled Senate, the balance of power has shifted. The Democrats have won in the US.

Not just Americans are overjoyed - I suppose Iraqis, Iranians and North Koreans and many in impoverished and spied-upon countries are happy as well. This is the reality of a globalised world where election results in one country can spell, as the Chinese say, ‘danger and opportunity’ in another.

In the case of the US, the sole superpower and symbol of the world republic (to use a George Lucas metaphor from the Star Wars series), the imminent booting out of the "hee-hawing rodeo-politicking high noon-Republican-war-mongering oil-starving Bush regime" is sending good vibes even to places such as Kandahar, Fallujah, and Nablus.

What can Malaysians learn from Americans in getting ready for a possible 2008 general election? If Malaysians can wear American jeans and be mentally-colonised by rock and roll, disco, hip hop & R&B music, why can’t the be inspired by the "Thomas Paine-American-styled general will" to change their government?
Isn't this what global education means? We take revolutionary ideas on freedom and democracy and mould these to our heart's desire to engineer sustainable change.

America saw the sudden resignation of Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, the architect and chief strategist of almost 3,000 deaths of American soldiers and 16,000 Iraqis in the invasion of Iraq.

Together with Paul Wolfowiz and all the warriors of the Pentagon and mortal combatants of the US war machinery, Rumsfeld carried out a plan good enough to see the systematic destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq so that their natural resources could be plundered.

Halliburton, Kellogg, Brown, and Root (companies associated with vice-president Dick Cheney, photo) could rebuild these nations in the mould of American demono-cracy. It is said that, had Rumsfeld resigned earlier, the Republicans would have won. It is also said that Americans are increasingly sick and tired of the war.

‘Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam’ read a bumper sticker I saw in New York.

In 2008, will America see her first woman president in Hillary Clinton and a first African American vice-president in Barak Obama?

Guiding principle

Vote virtues, not vultures into power, I suggest. This should be the guiding principle for Malaysian voters. If Americans cannot stand 12 years of political suffering, why shouldn’t Malaysians withstand 40 years of never-ending plutocracy?

Americans, fed up with their president George W Bush and his corrupt, lying, and warmongering regime, have stood up against him and are ready for a radical change.

The regime has been about Bush family war plans, non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the Wolfowitz Doctrine, a trillion dollar war budget, Cheney's running of the White House, defence contracts, destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, criminalisation of the people of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, inhumanity of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, false use of CIA-information to invade Iraq, criminalising Islam and humiliating Muslims, economic-drafting of America's underclass, rising cost of college education, reduced funding for schools, systematic impoverishment of the middle class, wire-tapping, high gas prices, closing both eyes to the Israeli government's brutality towards the Palestinians and, most of all, the worse-than-Vietnam quagmire of the Bush ‘war against terror’.

This explains why Americans are rejoicing over the Democratic touchdown.

Will Bush be impeached for war-time crimes against the people of Iraq, for lying to Americans and the world about the illegitimate war in the absence of weapons of mass destruction? Will Halliburton, of which the Cheney was CEO, be investigated? Will the middle class be resusitated? Will the troops be recalled? These are the hopes of those who voted for Democrats.

Massive corruption in America and the never-ending war are booting out the Bush regime. Will Malaysians travel a similar path - will corruption, the on-going ‘war’ over the New Economic Policy and unsuccessful war on poverty and racial discrimination be the decisive factors in the 2008 election?

It seems that we are heading towards such a change. We need more transparency as we prepare our citizens for the election.

If we are to find answers to all the abuses in our political system - money politics, cultural corruption, abuse of power in universities and schools, rise of family dynasties in the ruling elite, unsolved mysteries of political murders, imprisonment without trial of those speaking up against injustices, Swiss bank accounts and a spectrum of corrupt practices in all spheres of life, then we must ride the wave of change and master the possibilities of our future.

Complete secrecy

Malaysians must stand up to stop the rot. But where are our Republicans and Democrats? Who are our Republicans and Democrats? This is a difficult question.

We do not have a strong opposition evolving into a good two-party system for checks and balances. I doubt if we will see such an evolution given our political culture and understanding of democracy which is still at pre-puberty stage. Some of our elected officials still argue in parliamentary sessions, using the style of gangsta rappers of South Bronx.

We are still plagued with issues of partisanship in the alternative political system. Our political parties are still religiously race-based. Our political culture has still not matured to a level comfortable enough to have our youth articulate why they will vote in this or that party in the elections.

Our government is making sure that those in public universities do not speak up against this or that form of injustice. And our ruling coalition maintains its power of silencing critics through constant McCarthyism - detaining critics without trial.
Our campaign financing practice is still a blurred picture. We do not know which corporation or government-linked company is financing which political candidate. We do not know how much money is pumped into the coffers of the ruling coalition’s parties. We do not know why many companies are awarded contracts without going through the bidding process.

We do not know what kind of wheeling and dealing goes on behind the political scene. We cannot know this because the major political parties control the mainstream media. This is to ensure that citizens will become what American sociologist Herbert Marcuse would call “one-dimensional beings”.

We do not know to what extent the state apparatuses - courts, police, education system, etc - are under the direct control of politicians. For that matter, we are not sure where to draw the line between the public and the political and the private.

The people do not know how secret our government is. All we know is that corruption and abuse of power is rotting the nation to the core. It is as if there is lawlessness in the way we deal with corruption as illustrated by the refusal of the ruling elite to prosecute those who embezzle public funds big time.

This is the nature of Malaysian rogue republicanism a la the Bush regime. Secrecy is the policy in the name of national security - just like Bush's approach to civil liberties in the name of homeland security.

It is all a question of how much money is needed to install Malaysian democracy. Democracy is for sale - at a guaranteed high price.

Therefore, in 2008, vote virtue into office, not vultures.

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