September 10, 2012
by Josh Hong(09-07-12)@http://www.malaysiakini.com
I am growing tired of the so-called Malaysian elites who see themselves as rising above politics. They look askance at the Opposition parties for a variety of reasons, being skeptical of PAS’ theocratic agenda or Anwar Ibrahim’s chameleon character. I know many are also disdainful of the way Lim Guan Eng conducts himself.
It is fine and in fact natural when members of a society have different opinions and are allowed to express them peacefully. This is called democracy.
However, what I cannot tolerate is the holier-than-thou attitude of this particular group of elites who claim to be neutral, and it is this pretense that has driven some of them to feel so cynical about the ordinary men and women – already hard pressed in life thanks to the 55 years of mismanagement and corrupt rule of the Barisan Nasional – who now put their faith in the alternative front.
I earnestly wish there is such a thing as neutrality in politics. But some Malaysians are so gullible that they, after much propagation by BN mouthpieces, too begin to think social activism such as BERSIH and other environment-related movements should remain ‘neutral’ and ‘non-political’.
But how can BERSIH, Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA, the Anti-Lynas Campaign, Bukit Koman and the less publicised Pengerang residents remain apolitical when there are issues of justice, fairness, integrity as well as life and death at stake? To me, anyone who follows the BN’s script and calls for these movements to be de-politicised is naïve, plain stupid, or shrouded in his or her own elitist bigotry.
Granted, our country is becoming partisan and political by the day and I am certainly not losing sight of this fact. But one must be cautious enough to not condemn blind loyalty to the Opposition to the extent that existing abuses, transgressions and excesses by the powers-that-be are overlooked or made to seem as secondary or unimportant.
One good example of this false neutrality was the flimsy argument put forward by some that they refused to join the series of BERSIH rallies because ‘the movement has been politicised and is linked to the Opposition’. What these people have failed to understand is that it was the BN parties that had turned down the invitation to join in the effort for clean and fair elections in the first place!
Ideally, one would be happy to not interfere in Malaysian politics but live a serene life. Unfortunately, one’s personal circumstances cannot be improved by seeing one’s life being constantly disrupted and worsened by undesirable politicians and the best way to fight them is to become politically involved.
And it is rather rich of some to scorn at the mass following enjoyed by the opposition parties, for I know quite a number of them have worked closely with BN-associated bodies before, including the Perdana Global Peace Foundation with Mahathir Mohamad as the patron. Obviously people like these have conveniently forgotten that Mahathir has never ceased to be political as well as divisively partisan.
This trait is common to some Chinese Malaysian dailies, too. While Utusan Malaysia, The Star and News Straits Times have no qualms admitting that they are serving the agenda of the ruling parties, the Chinese press in general is adverse to being perceived as partisan. So what they habitually do is to report stories from both sides of the political divide and pretend the job is done. Or is it?
When a college student was expelled from school and a 19-year-old girl handcuffed by the Police, both for ‘showing disrespect to the Prime Minister’, the mainstream media covered the news but did not bother to explain why questionable characters such as (Tun) Ling Liong Sik and (Tan Sri) Chan Kong Choy escaped the same fate even though they have been charged with much more serious offences.
In attempting to be seen as ‘fair’ and ‘impartial’ by giving both parties – both the Police and the ‘offenders’ – a chance to speak, the news only ends up getting distorted. Meanwhile, the real cause of these incidents – an expanding Malaysian population disgruntled with the failure of the government to restore public integrity – remains obscured.
As Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, has said, ‘one of the worst things the old media do is present two sides of a story as if the two sides had equal value, creating a false neutrality that often does not exist’, and that they fall back on ‘the illusion of neutrality instead of ferreting out the truth’.
It would, hence, be better for these self-righteous critics to get down from the wall of false neutrality and see for themselves what are the real issues that are plaguing our country, before they become devoured by the sheer force of the corrupt regime that they are happy to turn a blind eye to for now.