|Mandate of heaven this nation awaits|
|Azly Rahman | Feb 18, 08 1:24pm |
Sometime ago, I wrote these:
1)"Let our children learn that it is terrifying to be corrupt; such as to build palaces while the homes of the poor are demolished. Let us teach them to vote with their conscience."
2) "The current regime cannot solve the problems it creates. It must dismantle itself, die a natural death, destroy the symbols of power it has abused, and let a peaceful renewal take its natural course."
We have 13 days of campaigning period and after that, the opportunity to exercise our fundamental rights as Malaysian citizens. We are doing this at a time when our political system is in utter chaos – the three branches of government are growing more visible thorns and climbing onto each other, while the roots are diseased in this wasteland called democracy in which the air is foul and toxic. Is this a curse of our obsession with the number 13?
These 13 days are crucial for our nation's future. It might not be as dramatic as 10 days that shook Russia in October 1917 but nonetheless it is a time when the change we need is now. The process of getting there is "perestroikic". The previous ruling regime that has served Malaysia for 50 years too I believe is asking for radical change to happen. This feeling resides in the collective unconscious of our race-based politics. It will be our bipolarist Freudian moment of Malaysian Machiavellianism. The calm of Mahathirism is now creating a storm of unknown proportions.
Sense of fear
Mahathirism is giving way for Radical Multiculturalism, or to be more accurate Radical Marhaenism. There is a sense of meaninglessness in the word "Agenda Melayu" these days. There is also a sense of fear of holding on to power for too long when the rakyat has lost its trust in a government that is no longer gentle, let alone clean, efficient or trustworthy. The Internet is helping raise critical awareness of what actually is going on. The blogs have become our last frontier of the spaces of justice we are yet to discover. "Thus Sprach Cyberspace" as a philosopher would say.
What goes on inside the mind of the present coalition is this: it wants to have a strong check and balance as being a coalition with absolute power can also be a painful experience. More force is needed to stop the growing wave of dissent. How much of the ideological state apparatuses must one abuse? "Dissent is patriotic", as American philosopher statesman Thomas Jefferson once said. More water cannons, laced with chemicals are needed in a toxic democracy such as Malaysia's on the eve of choosing a new regime. To be patriotic, one must dissent.
But there is still hope for detoxification. We all want this – ruling party or the opposition, regardless. It is a dictate of the mandate of heaven. We must go for a strong check and balance system.
Malaysia has achieved the goals for Agenda Melayu. Time's up – game over? The 2007 report by Asli spearheaded by eminent scholar Dr. Lim Teck Ghee gave us a glimpse of objectivity in reporting what ought to be reported in regard to the economic pie Malaysians are so obsessed with.
We need to spend the next 50 years making Agenda Bangsa Malaysia a reality. We need a political will to go with it. We must be brave to ride the new wave of change – as brave as the astronaut we sent to experience the joys of being in outer space.
Agenda Melayu a bad excuse
Agenda Melayu has become a leit motif at best and a bad excuse at worst for the few to oligopolise this resource rich nation; a nation whose oil revenues should have best been used to finance the education, welfare and health services of Malaysians of all races instead of building tall structures and "corridors" to showcase the autocracy of our oriental despotism. Instead of building "corridors" all over, one might ask: why not build affordable houses for the poor and build minds that will learn how to live ethical lives and resuscitate this nation? These corridors will ultimately be of benefit only to local elites that will be plundering the nation in concert and in cohort with foreign investors from faraway and nearby lands. Or, why not meet the needs of Indian Malaysians and all those that are still in abject poverty?
Agenda Melayu is a base and superstructure of the hegemony of one race that lives and breathes the spirit of neo-cybernetic-feudalistic construction of elusive and heterogeneous power; a modern-day daulat that has lost the magic of "divine rights" that never was there in the first place – the power derived from materials, artifacts and the politics of language that colonises the mind of the silently-reproduced Malay.
The rise of Makkal Shakti (People Power) through Hindraf, the emergence of a yellow wave through Bersih, the persistence of rallies, the uncertainty of socio-political stability, and the increase in the use of state apparatuses to crush dissenting viewpoints – all these are the symptoms of mass dissatisfaction against the regime in power that is begging for a fresh mandate.
Unembarassingly too, Malaysian education ministries avowed their contradictory stand on political culture by releasing statements the students can cast political votes but cannot be involved politically. Education as an enterprise to create good citizens and through ars liberalis (the arts of the free man/women) has become a huge conveyor belt to create minds filter-funneled with ideologies of an outdated race-based politics surviving on the modus operandi of fear, ferociousness and phantasmagoric proclamations of world-class this or that.
The writings are on the wall. The graffiti of our national grouses and grievances are even written on the walls of that Petronas Twin Tower, a Caesar Pelli-an symbol of the Malay Agenda. We want to reach the heights that imitate the advanced industrial nation but our political and civic consciousness can at times be in the pits of neanderthalism. The height of this abysmal consciousness is embalmed in the Royal Commission of Inquiry, epitomised in the ideology of "Lingam-ism". The narratives that we read on the proceedings of inquiry into the conduct of the judiciary is like a freestyle of a most vulgar form of gangsta rap that humiliates the minds of Malaysians yearning for blind justice to prevail.
Issues before the elections
The issues before the Malaysian general election are plenty, amongst these:
As it affects Malaysians of Malay origin, the continuing growth of the abject poor, now sprawling in the urban areas, the continuing exposure of corruption amongst primarily Malay leaders of the ruling regime, the clampdown on dissenting views in public universities and the recent warning by the minister of higher education for students not to be engaged in politics, the unresolved mystery of the Altantunya murder case involving Malay suspects, and the rising prices of basic necessities as a result of the rise of oil price.
As it affects Malaysians of Chinese origin, the continuing dissatisfaction of the way the NEP has favoured one race over others in terms of educational funding across the board.
As it affects Malaysians of Indian origin, the continuing marginalisation of the community left to fend for themselves in abject poverty, the demolition of Hindu temples, the neglect of their basic education via neglect of Tamil schools, and the continuing detention without trial of the five Hindraf activists as a result of the clampdown on now the internationally-broadcasted rally for their rights.
As it affects all Malaysians, the uncertainty of what is to be derived out of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the "Lingam Tape" in which the public is now confused on the matter of how much information is being given to ascertain if indeed the entire workings of the judicial system is based on unethical practices; one allegedly based on rigging of the appointment of judges.
As it affects the rights of the indigenous people such as the Orang Asli and the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak, the systematic effort of failing to protect their rights in face of hypermodernity the government has embarked upon.
The tightly controlled government media has been playing up and down issues before the general election. It has played up Barisan Nasional's "confidence of a winning big" at a time unlike the previous elections in which the Internet was never a tool of counter-hegemony. It is assumed that the ruling party will continue to be given the mandate (more that 2/3 majority) at every election even though the issues mentioned above continue to be unresolved. The nation continues to see parties carrying their baggage and unresolved critical issues into this election.
New masks, old spirits
The ruling party assumes that by announcing that "new faces" will be introduced to replace the old despots, the system will be rejuvenated, somewhat like a political dialysis. This reminds one of the blood transfusions of Keith Richards, the stoned-aged-but-still-alive guitarist of the legendary rock group The Rolling Stones; whose life defies the stories of the dangers of drug addiction. It is assumed that by getting new individuals to run in the elections, a fresh mandate to carry out the Malay agenda will be given.
But the issue is not about propping up new individuals – it is about ideology and institutions that support it. It is about a race-based ideology that is no longer in sync with changing times, as if the cognitive capacity of the nation will never progress and surpass the ideology of the Malay Agenda.
The overplayed doctrine of "Malay dictatorship/hegemony" (Ketuanan Melayu), an arrogant sounding developmentalist agenda pillared upon arrogant and truncated theories of development which brushes off new findings on the ownership of the NEP, continue to dominate the mind of campaign strategists.
The biggest issue before this election is the ideological shift. Because Umno as the dominant party actually does not have an ideology, except sentimentality and authority to deploy the ideological state apparatuses, and because the dissatisfaction of the masses/rakyat is growing in leaps and bounds and is tsunami-ing the streets, we have got a national problem.
What will the election bring us? It is you and I who will decide.
Did Marx the historian not say that we must become makers of our own history?
Or - if we are to become a superstitious nation who believes in numerology, we must also believe in a mandate of heaven, where it rains change predictably.