How low can you go

JULY 8 — The whole political drama surrounding Bersih 2.0’s planned rally on Saturday has reached historical proportions — but at which end, whether incredibly ridiculous or incredibly ingenious, still begs decision.

On one hand, we have Bersih 2.0, with a committee made up of respected citizens with a deep understanding of electoral issues, bent on rallying for one cause: free and fair elections in a country that has been ruled by one multi-party coalition for over 50 years.

On the other hand, I know I am not the only who feels that there is a tactical game plan being rolled out to disable Bersih 2.0 and build anxiety among the general population.

Recently, as my dad, his German friend and I talked about Malaysia’s politics, my father pointed out that governments should realise that the people today have something that they might not have had 50 years ago: education.

When the country’s politicians were in their 20s, things were a lot different. Yet, the answer is not in trying to woo young people over Twitter and Facebook, not when their generation knows you mess around with PSD scholarships. Plus, there are “Ignore”, “Block” and “Unfollow” options.

Those in their late 20s and above are a lot more educated than some of the country’s politicians will ever be. With this level of education comes better-paying jobs, and with that, comes exposure, evolving viewpoints, information exchange — all the traits of a developed country.

But we cannot be a developed country and try and suppress people for having an opinion. And what IS being a “developed country”? Bigger buildings? GST? Sky-high property prices? More FDI? Less FDI?

We must remember that there is no “developed country” without a developed people. Our people (and yes, this means non-Bumiputeras too) are our biggest asset. The government must realise this in some way or why keep screaming about brain drain?

Trying to woo people back to “serve their country” and yet call them “pendatang” is not going to win any votes, for goodness sake. Which is one of the many reasons why the brain-drain “problem” will never be solved.

In the meantime, organising a big bunch of motorcyclists to circle the opposition’s headquarters while waving Umno flags was too obvious an attempt at intimidation.

Furthermore, we have been struggling with Mat Rempit hooligans for years and it was almost sad to see the obvious irony lost on the organiser(s).

And now, here we are. The claws are out. The law is being bastardised and used as a whip. “Waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong”? Seriously?

The police have been amazing. Their swift action in detaining hundreds under emergency laws in a few weeks has been impressive. Meanwhile, the acid splasher who injured over 20 women is still at large although months have passed and police have a photo-fit of the man.

Cue: Shamini throws her hands up in the air.

As the government and its allies clutch at straws, desperately wielding every “weapon” in their arsenal — from silat to rationing bus permits — we watch part in anger, part in amusement, and all in irritation.

Through all the politicking over the past few weeks, one message has prevailed: people power. When a group of ordinary folk band together for a cause, the grace with which it faces its adversaries yet remains steadfast, is something political parties (BN or PR) can gain pointers from.

Let’s get one thing right — Bersih 2.0 has already won.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.


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