March 20, 2016
We reap what we sow by relying on a status quo former Prime Minister
by Azrul Mohd Khalib
Of late, many Malaysians have been finding their voices and have started speaking out. Voices which express concern and worry for the state of the country today.
They speak of concern for our most cherished institutions and structures which are at the heart of any democracy being tarnished and blemished by alleged misconduct and a massive loss of integrity, trust and independence.
The feudalistic mentality that pervades in our society makes it easy for us to just point to the guy at the top and say that he is the cause of our troubles, fears and hardship. After all, the buck does stop there.
But the people who need to be taken to task include the individuals who continue to protect, and indeed fight for the preservation of a patronage system which rewards the corrupt, marginalises the weak, and is in dire need of reform. They are our elected representatives, the Members of Parliament.
The right to elect a representative to represent the people is a fundamental right which many of us often take for granted. Each general election cycle, Malaysians exert their right to appoint the best people who they believe would be able to represent and govern for the betterment of all.
But these days, many of our Wakil Rakyats are merely mouthpieces, who are more interested in keeping their esteemed status and being favoured by the majority political party than actually representing the people.
When Malaysians voice their concern about the integrity of the government and in the electoral process, it stems from the firm belief that there is a need for better accountability and transparency from the people who are making decisions in the people’s name.
Just as a young boy spoke out in all honesty that the emperor was in fact not wearing any clothes, those with the responsibility of governing must realise that taking criticism, even unwelcomed or unpleasant ones, is necessary especially if it is in the best interest of the country.
Every Malaysian will remember the countless times singing Negaraku, Wawasan 2020 and many other patriotic songs during their school days. In schools across the country, Monday morning begins with the voices of thousands of students singing the national anthem.
These are all aimed at instilling in Malaysians, especially the young, a living breathing civic consciousness and a love for country and its people. It was not intended to create unthinking and unquestioning obedience to those in governance.
Upholding pretence, such as the behaviour of the emperor and his people in the folk tale, and continuing to be defensive and in denial of stark facts and reality itself, could be at the very least embarrassing or worse harmful to the well-being of Malaysians. We should not be silent especially when the deficit in trust towards those who govern increases by the day.
Unfortunately, there are many who feel that their voices have not been taken seriously, respected, heeded, or even heard by those in power. We are told that we should accept the status quo or else use the general elections to express our dissatisfaction.
However, is it really necessary to wait for our turn at the ballot box to herald and invite change and reform? Do we need to use the brute force and threat of government change through political parties to ensure that improvements such as electoral reforms are made? Reform should neither necessary mean nor require the change of the government. It should not be a zero sum game. After all, the authority of the government is derived from the consent of the governed.
We reap what we sow. Let’s all support reform and change for a better Malaysia.