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Monday, October 08, 2007

143] Battle on, for change!

Battle on, for change!
Azly Rahman
Oct 8, 07 1:59pm

I read with deep concern about the notice served on PKR’s Sivarasa Rasiah and Sim Tze Tzin in regard to revealing the sources of the 'Lingam tape'.

I hope the Bar Council can do something about it, in a bigger way than the lawyers' ‘walk for justice’. I hope we can get the students to protest when the truth is known.

I see the need to discuss this issue in our universities; just as Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's invitation to Columbia University in New York was used to raise issues of global concern.

Ahmadinejad was invited in the name of promoting and continuing the tradition of academic freedom. Our universities are more interested in inviting Mawi and Siti Norhaliza so that the students can continue to be glued to images of pop idols, and so that they will be turned into one-dimensional beings.

They are reflective of false consciousness, mass deception, Hadhari-pop mania and iconoclasm, and as talking heads of money-making machines that prey on weakness, especially of the Malay spirit.

How did we come to a stage in history that Kennedy-era economist Walt Rostow would call ‘the age of mass consumption of mass deception’? It is our fault that the state of affairs is nauseating.

We are being denied justice in virtually all aspects of governance. This is the legacy of hegemony wrought upon the nation through the 22-year rule of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

We have not developed a critically conscious citizenry, we let the three branches of government collapse from the tree of knowledge that we artificially plant in order to showcase democracy to the world. We let the system silence the people and we dumb-down our educational institutions. We don't know exactly how the next general election will favour the despotic regime.

Danton of the French Revolutionary period lamented days before his execution: "... better be a fisherman than engage in all these". He may be wrong. We must all be like Robespierre, I suppose, and fight on until we conspire with fate to change the scheme of things.

I believe we will see natural justice take its course. As Rousseau said: "Everything is Good in the hands of the author of Things, everything degenerate in the Hands of man".

Bridge the gaps

Indeed the challenge is to stop the rot. Only with regime change will this be possible. Only through education for critical consciousness can the nation survive intact.

Our universities need to be turned into more intellectually challenging places and more systematically be forced to open their doors to critical dialogue. They must allow radical speakers to be invited. Students must not be denied the need to hear critical perspectives.

We must demand that our schools and universities produce documents of change in the way we teach students about freedom of speech and improvement of thinking.

The documents must succinctly state our commitment to raise the level of thinking of all students from pre-school to post-graduate schools. A higher order of thinking skills, critical thinking, and creative thinking must be made explicit goals. Benchmarks must be set and standards put in place.

Schools must bridge the achievement gap, educational resources must be allocated with equity so that we do not produce classes of people that will antagonise each other and lead the way for the kind of revolution we do not want to see - as in the case of France that culminated with the burning of Paris.

Multi-culturalism must be the foundation of our schools; the meeting of diverse needs of the learners and the creation of a nation of people who will not only respect one another's struggle but collaborate in removing regimes that create divisions in society.

We have a lot to do, as a nation. But we must begin with the unshackling of our mentality in solving problems. If our universities are merely interested in maintaining the hegemony of the ruling class and a corporatist despotic regime that thrives on slogans of economic progress via political stability, we cannot see deep into our national psyche.

We cannot see the desire within that we wish to subjugate, tame, and put to moral and ethical use. ‘Desire’ here means the maintaining of the entity called the kerajaan, which produces men and machines that help run the mechanistic world of rampant corruption.

The machinery that supports this system is plagued with individuals and institutions that legitimise the propping-up of a dubious judicial system, the advancing of sub-intelligent values in the way we teach our students in our universities, and the maintaining of a parliamentary culture that is fast degenerating into a state of denial.

Stop the rot. Open our minds. Let our imagination for a just society run wild. Express rage against the machine.

4 comments:

lXl said...

There are 2 reasons why the majority of the students will not demonstrate.

1. Those who are in the know and truly care for the state of the country will never attempt to risk their chances of getting scholarship to pursue their studies etc. The exception will be for those who can finance their education overseas and are really bold in making their views known (though thats very rare).

2. The second group of students don't really care at all. Getting a superbike or a Subaru Impreza is all they aim for from an education.

Its still a long way to go before we could have a group of local students marching down the streets like the 'lions' in columbia.

Antares said...

Azly wrote: "Our universities need to be turned into more intellectually challenging places and more systematically be forced to open their doors to critical dialogue. They must allow radical speakers to be invited. Students must not be denied the need to hear critical perspectives."

Greetings! We have yet to meet but I could well be listed - along with the likes of Farish Noor, Hisham Rais and Amir Muhammad - amongst the "radical speakers" you mention. Indeed, I often pride myself on being more "radical" than anyone else I know: was diametrically opposed to Mahathir's plastic Wawasan even before he ascended to power as the PM :-)

I read with interest and amusement your essay ('Malaysian Malls & Cultural Imperialism') on RPK's blog and followed your trail back here. It gladdens my heart to hear a mutant Malay intellectual addressing these issues publicly.
After all, it was I who, in the early 1990s, coined the phrase "the All-American Melayu" during an era when the "bumigeois" (to borrow Salleh Ben Joned's nifty term) were buying 4X4s as weekend vehicles and their kids began wearing Yale University T-shirts, Nikes, and baseball caps back to front.

I agree wholeheartedly with your commentary, Azly, and would like to see voices such as yours being given more media space and airtime. However, nothing is likely to change - until a coalition of opposition parties gets voted in on the platform of immediately abolishing all repressive laws (ISA, OSA, PP&P Act, U&C act, and so on), restoring to us the right of public assembly without police permits.

Believe me, the youth are not all unthinking. In fact, the time is overripe for a sea change in the Malaysian political milieu.

ewoon said...

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri Professor and family ...

God bless and keep you all.

Leesa said...

I cannot agree more. Stop the rot indeed. Until the seeds of multiculturalism has been sown, and the generations of youth to come have reaped the luscious fruit of equality, my mind cannot conceive the logic in trying so very desperately to love a country that simply refuses to acknowledge my citizenry.
The lack of critical awareness amongst youth is not new; in fact, it has been intentionally bred. The authority of today is not much different from that of the colonies: breed ignorance, limit education and there will be no cause for revolt.
I want very desperately to care, to acknowledge my heritage, to be able to say I'm Malaysian without a sour taste in my mouth, and a dull pain in the bottom of my heart. I have nowhere else to go, I know only Malaysia but Malaysia doesn't want me. Pray do tell then, to whom do I direct my critical awareness?

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