Who is the boss anyway?
|Datuk Jema Khan is a former Sabah Umno Youth leader. He is now a businessman pushing the Agenda Liberal Melayu in Facebook .|
NOV 14 — In Malaysia we seem to be often caught up in a contest of dominance. The question of which race rules or which religion is paramount is the lifeblood of our political debate. This is further spiced up with issues of loyalty to the royals and nation as well as other more mundane family matters such as how many wives we should have and how they should be treated.
There is also a peppering of nonsensical statements such as the rights of the majority outweighing those of the minority. Aren’t rights supposed to apply to all? Does the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) only apply to selected races or religions? Of course not, it is U-N-I-V-E-R-S-A-L. It applies to everyone human being on the planet.
For those in politics who wish to dominate and thus rule, they should look at what is happening to the descendants of the great conquerors of the world, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. The Greek and Roman empires were around more than 2,000 years ago and predate Christ and Muhammad (SAW). They were the cradle of Western civilisation and dominated much of the known world at the time. If we were to look at “ketuanan Melayu” or Malay dominance within this historical context, our philosophy would be nothing short of laughable.
In any event, let us look at what has happened to the descendants of the great conquerors of the past in what is today, Greece and Italy. The Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou was forced out of office just a few days ago because of Greece’s debt problems. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has also just resigned as a result of Italy’s own debt problems.
These were two national leaders who won their positions democratically but had to resign to make way for technocrats to take over. The supranational European Union (EU) has exerted its muscle to deny the Greeks and Italians their right to be ruled by a democratically-elected government of their choice. How far the mighty have fallen!
The flip side of the argument is that the Greeks and the Italians today have only themselves to blame since they were the one who elected governments which landed them in their current predicament anyway. They should not have voted for all those debt building, populist policies of the past. I really hope that I don’t have to say the same of Malaysia and its voters in the next five to 10 years.
The fall of the Greek and Italian economies will undoubtedly generate a few books. If the same thing happens to Malaysia in the future, at least we Malays don’t have far to fall.
If we are lucky, we might not even make a footnote in history. If things go wrong we may well blame some politicians or political parties but it is unlikely we will blame ourselves. We will say we didn’t have the power to do anything at the time.
Well, my fellow Malaysians and especially my fellow Malays: that is not true today. We have a chance to make things better. The time is now.
The rulers, be they politicians, the civil servants, the royalty or even the religious leaders, are jockeying for more power and position. By right we the voters need to entrench our own powers in the system. We need to disenfranchise and weaken certain elements within our system and strengthen others. A two-party system will certainly strengthen our position as the voters within a system where we have a choice.
We can be empowered voters in Malaysia but we also need to take responsibility for our own actions. If we subscribe to the values contained within our Constitution then we have to defend them and not let Parliament pass laws that are inconsistent or even “ultra vires” the Constitution.
The recent ruling by the Court of Appeal that section 15(5)(a) of the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA) is unconstitutional and violates the guarantee of freedom of speech is certainly to be lauded. Why it took 40 years to declare it unconstitutional is another matter.
We are in a globalised world today and even the construct of a sovereign nation state is being challenged by supranational entities that appear to be powers unto themselves. To strengthen the democratic process and freedom in Malaysia, we the people need to take charge and defend every person’s rights including the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community or those of a different religion or different race or gender.
We can only be truly democratic when we defend the rights of those that we oppose ideologically.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.