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The rise of civil society in Malaysia ― Tan Zhong Yan

NOV 26 ― In recent years, especially after the 12th general election held in March 2008, the environment in Malaysia has already changed dramatically with the rise of civil society.

This is a phenomenon that will be experienced by all societies, where people started to realise the importance of their participation.

In Malaysia, especially after the political tsunami of the 12th general election, people started to become aware that they can have a very strong influence over this country. They have already risen to claim and exercise their rights and have even dared to voice their opinions openly.

BERSIH 2.0 and 3.0, together with the Himpunan Hijau and other gatherings organised by the civil society is the best proof to show the rise of civil society in Malaysia.

This is a good and healthy phenomenon, which shows that Malaysians are not only aware of and sensitive to the current issues, but are also starting to take initiatives and leaving the attitudes of “tidak tahu” and “tidak apa”.

At one time, Malaysia was one of the most advanced countries in Asia. However, because of the attitudes of “tidak tahu” and “tidak apa”, Malaysia is now trailing far behind especially in terms of economy and development.

It is very embarrassing when Singapore, a country that is so small and without any resources, overtook Malaysia in almost all aspects. All once-backward neighbouring countries like Indonesia, India, Thailand and many others have started to compete with and overtake Malaysia in some aspects.

The rise of civil society has given a glimmer of hope. It can be seen that Malaysians have started to be sensitive to current issues and cares about what is happening. Only with the rise and participation of civil society will a nation thrive, because the rise of civil society means that civil society has freed itself from the shackles of politics.

Certainly the rise of civil society will be an enormous pressure to all political parties, whether the establishment or opposition, because the rise of civil society is the sign that people are already mature in their thinking and will no longer be enticed by the sweet words of the politicians.

This pressure will continue to build this country because it will push politicians and their parties to do their best. If they refuse to follow the demand of the people, they would surely be eliminated in the coming elections.

 The rise of civil society has also fostered a sense of belonging, unity and patriotism indirectly, where all walks of life regardless of race, religion, age and gender come together and fight for a common goal, which is for our beloved country.

I am very impressed with Himpunan Hijau participants, especially those who walked from Kuantan to Dataran Merdeka. Most of them are elderly but they are still able to walk this far.

I feel so ashamed that I, as a youth, have failed to contribute anything. They are our heroes and the passion that they have is what all of us Malaysians need to continue to develop our beloved country Malaysia.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

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