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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

142] The lawyers' walk and our collective guilt

Let's do the 'lawyer walk'
Azly Rahman
Oct 2, 07 12:17pm

Is this the dawning of the Age of Aquarius? When Jupiter lines up with Mars…

A song by an R&B group The Fifth Dimension out of the turbulent Sixties, written for the musical Hair, reminds me of the lawyers' walk on Wednesday. History is a pattern of repetition and ideas and civil rights is a part of the phenomena of globalization. As a noted scholar of globalization Arjun Appadurai once said that movements of these become patterns of changes of "ideascapes" that create more changes. The idea of Civil Rights has arrived on our shores.

Historian of science Thomas Kuhn in his seminal work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions spoke of "paradigm shifts" in which when a long-held idea of the time is bombarded with questions, it can no longer carry its weight and will eventually collapse as a result of the internal contradiction that contributes to the internal weight that brought to the collapse. This is exemplified by the "Copernican Revolution" in the collapse of the Ptolemic paradigm of an "Earth-centric" universe.

One small step

The Bar Council's one small step for Malaysia might lead to giant steps for our own Civil Rights movement.

Will that Wednesday event inspire a "Million Malaysian March" someday? Will we see peaceful walks by all sectors of society, classes of people, and groups of professionals that will ensure their unique demands for changes be heard?

This seems to be the best time to walk peacefully to the different ministries to hand in manifestos and petitions for radical change and transformations; from the demand for minimum wages to be instituted to the repeal of the Universities and University Colleges Act to be handed in by hand to the ministers.

This is the best time for the rakyat to come together and walk the talk and talk about the Wednesday walk and demand that repressive Acts be repealed, major national scandals be investigated, corrupt politicians working closely with robber barons be exposed and removed from office, student rights in our universities be respected, a valid, reliable, and fair and just national voting system be instituted, the victims of the New Economic Policy be compensated, equity and equal opportunity issues be addressed, and a whole range of other issues be attended to in order for this nation to evolve peacefully.

We are slowly but surely learning to be a nation that will use our rights to free speech and free assembly well. The Wednesday march is a clear example how the government is taking the walk seriously.

Perhaps, with the help of human rights lawyers, Malaysian educationists, trade unionists, doctors, engineers, university students, artists, musicians, poets, rubber tapers, tin miners, small business owners, bloggers, fearful Southern and Northern Corridor dwellers, homemakers, and those marginalized by the policies of the ruling party, should do the "lawyer walk" and be spared of the syndrome of the "Batu Burok" walk. Things should proceed peacefully – and legally. We have the right to protest against the rotting of things entire – whether it is about a rotten judiciary or the rotten Surat Akujanji that help make the support for corrupt leaders legal.

A great lawyer, Mohandas K Gandhi, led the biggest walk in modern history; years of walks and marches that led to the fall of the British Empire in India, spearheading other movements for independence. As a lawyer in South Africa, Gandhi burned the pass that symbolised the segregation of the whites and the colored. Gandhi, inspired by "transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, promoted civil disobedience and peaceful marches to affect change. Gandhi's philosophy "satyagraha" or philosophy of "non-violence" inspired The Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr to initiate one of the greatest events in American history – the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Yes, the sixties – the moon is at its seventh house.

One giant step needed

At the height of the Reformasi movement of the late 1990s, street protests were abound and became a weekly event. That served its purpose of a nation still learning how to engineer a peaceful revolution.

The Wednesday walk, 10 years after, has shown us a more sophisticated way to make the voices of justice heard. The symbolism was perfect – lawyers fed up with the rot wishing to bring the Judiciary back to its dignity after being bullied for 20 years by the Executive that had become totalitarian, marched from the Palace of Justice to the Central Command Courtyard. There was no storming of the Bastille but the message was clear – clean up the mess or you'll see more walks and marches.

Walking is always a good thing for our health. And the Wednesday "lawyers' walk" was even better for the health of the nation.

1 comment:

Fariza said...

Assalamualaikum Dr Azly,
FYI, I already emailed you the question addressing Malaysian keep changing education policy, weeks ago. Hopefully Dr Azly would consider to spend some time to look into it. your comments will be useful for me to completr my article on this issue. i appreciate if you can email me the answers before Dec 7 2007.
thank you

Truly,
farizasalam@gmail.com

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