Josh Hong’s article on Gerakan and his scathing criticism of the supremacism of Umno has comforted me that I am not the only who sounded bitter. Josh argues that my grunt and criticism is not in any “position to effect real change in the BN for the simple fact that it is the word of the (in)famous “fourth floor people” that carries weight”.
I do not dispute his observation. Moreover, I do not intend to claim that I have done a great job in my attempts to point out to the ruling elites that they must not forget to govern responsibly. However, not all my criticisms are taken positively. I would be thankful if I am allowed to complain till the cow comes home and given the space to exercise my freedom of opinion.
Unfortunately, critics, including myself, have come to realize that our job is becoming a hazard to us and to the cause we have been appointed to uphold and promote. I would like to assure Josh that our criticisms do make a slight impact in order to attract such responses and reactions. Our efforts are not totally in vain.
However, unlike Josh, I would like to argue against putting too much hope in political parties to spearhead democratic reforms and practice responsible governance. History has taught us that political parties, especially those in power, will not be moved or motivated to change unless there are internal and external conditions which threatened their rule.
By nature, politicians are not tempted to delegate power to the people. On the contrary, they would try to convince the people to hand them more power in order to rule more efficiently and effectively. Many have proven to be very effective and efficient, however, when only comes to serving their own interests.
Hence, authoritarian states have long promoted political stability as a desired attribute for socio-economic growth and sustainable peace. What is seen as a mammoth presence in parliament is actually a stamp of approval of the people who preferred development over democracy. As long as politicians are able to generate growth, create enough jobs and protect their public safety, this model works fine. Why fix something when it is not broken?
However, the real problem starts to emerge when politicians themselves are tempted to misappropriate the tremendous amount of power and public resources entrusted to them for their own self-interests. Abuse of power through nepotism, favourtism, corruption and others can impoverish even a resource rich nation. However, such deterioration takes decades to imprint its devastating impact on the society. By then, civil forces within the society would have been weakened by political hegemony to the extent that they will not be strong enough to mount a challenge against the powerful and omnipresent state.
Some politicians have tried to comfort me by saying that we can be in the same pot but remain distinct from other ingredients in the pot. In other words, we can be part of the system without being part of the system which abuses its responsibility. Personally, I do not know how this is possible without being equally tainted.
I would like to urge Josh and other responsible Malaysians to look beyond the current approach if we wanted change. A change has proven to be very difficult to come from inside the system. We cannot place our hope entirely on politicians we have empowered with such enormous power and resources to change overnight just because we think some of them have promised us to play a check-and-balance role within the ruling coalition. Or else we might be disappointed someday to find out that the different ingredients in the same pot do mix and coalesce very well.
Our hope lies within us. Malaysians must not continue to be apathetic when comes to their politics if they want to become a fully developed and civilized society endowed with good and noble values of transparency, accountability and sincerity.
Like Josh, I am still mildly optimistic because I am sensing a growing call for us to see beyond our skin colour and creed and start to think like citizens of this beautiful country, Malaysia. Malaysians must be firmly grounded on their feet and take over the driver’s seat.