APRIL 29 — “Democracy is dead in Malaysia.”
Ominous and radical words, spoken on a national broadcast to summarise a pivotal period in our country’s history. May 13, 1969, a distant footnote in the annuals of our colourful past.
Spoken by my grandfather, Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, in his attempt to impress upon the citizens of this great nation the gravity of their actions.
After witnessing first-hand the events of Bersih 3.0, it is clear how such a man of vision could utter such pessimistic and depressing of statements in a time of great blight upon this nation.
What is democracy? In time, there were simpler explanations: liberty, individual rights and the ability to express oneself without prejudice.
Today it is the only form of government we, Malaysians, have ever known. Where does that leave us today? How did the actions undertaken in today’s events allow us to return back to the basics that we so desire.
Who is to blame? The government? The opposition? The authorities? The rakyat? The list can go on and on with the buck being evenly distributed on all parties.
We are all to blame.
In the eyes of the world we have proven ourselves as a failed nation, regardless of how far we have come from colonisation, how far we have come to establish ourselves as a member of the world and how far we have come in being role models for the region.
Malaysia started as a dream and seems likely to die as a dream. It was the blood, sweat and tears of our forefathers, each and every one of them, which made this nation.
It will be our blood, sweat and tears that will tear it to asunder. Our inability to communicate has brought us to this crossroads. The failure of the public forum, our Parliament, has led to this.
Parliament was meant to be the outlet for debate and decision-making. It was meant to be the platform to address issues in a manner that stimulated solutions.
Instead, Parliament is ineffective, unresponsive and detached from the people. Could it be the fact that the political structure of the nation is that where our political parties must govern completely or not govern at all?
What of the quality of our politicians? In an era where we clamour for less spoon-feeding and more independence, do we need to be constantly told of what is going wrong and how things could better, rather than seeing and experiencing and understanding in our own rights?
Raising awareness on mistakes and malpractice is only constructive when met with understanding and constructive solutions rather than blame laying and bullying. There was a time when being a politician was thankless and undesirable. It now only as thankless as it is desirable.
By watching the mindless acts that took place today, the way that both sides acted it is clear that no one is interested in finding solutions anymore. We just want to vent our frustrations and misgivings. To what end?
Authority is shattered; our renowned respect for not only leaders but for ourselves is lost. Visions and dreams demand sacrifice, are we willing or even capable to pay the price? When we give up on peaceful and rational solutions are we ready for the ramifications?
By writing this article, I do not hope to influence anyone to side with anyone else. I merely wish to bring back to this nation what we have seemed to lost, rational thinking and problem solving.
We need to move past the lines of the divide that have been established and renew the era where we all dreamed as one. When we all worked as one. Bottom line: We are our country.
If we do not realise that, democracy really is dead in Malaysia.
* Seth Tun-Ismail reads The Malaysian Insider
* This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Malaysian Insider