May 4, 2018
May 6 – come one, come all for Aspirasi Rakyat Day
“To speak on what they aspire from the parties that will form the next government.”
– Forum Aspirasi Rakyat
COMMENT | This Sunday, May 6, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan has organised a forum called Forum Aspirasi Rakyat where political leaders, civil society groups and the rakyat are invited to speak on their aspirations for whoever who forms the next government.
This is a non-partisan forum which encourages political leaders, groups and individuals regardless of political affiliations to speak on their aspirations for the next government.
If time permits, members of the public may have their say as well. Here’s the thing. The Patriot group hopes that this call will reach those stakeholders or groups and most importantly the rakyat, who will turn up to support this forum.
This is an opportunity for civil society groups to inform the public of their aspirations for a new government or if you are affiliated to a political party, what the aspirations of your political coalition are should they form the new government.
We are entering the final stretch on what looks to be the most contentious elections in the history of Malaysia. Recent incidents of violence demonstrate that partisan fervour is reaching a fever pitch. Politicians are making all sorts of provocative statements and some people are taking this opportunity to engage in thuggery because their actions would be forgotten in the heat of political battle.
From the start, the Patriot group and their allies have cautioned that the volatile state of the nation is of concern to those who have served in the state security apparatus and, of course, those currently serving. Retired Brigadier-General Arshad Raji is the public face of the group but the reality is that this group, and those aligned with it, count in their membership those offering counsel to many retired and still serving personnel.
It is a testament to how important this election is that establishment figures (for whatever purposes) are moved to publicly make statements about what they feel is wrong with this country. The Patriot group, therefore, wants civil society, politicians and members of the public to come to this event and voice out their aspirations for the new government – from whichever coalition – which comes into power.
Every day we read the news of how dirty this election is. The atmosphere is toxic with negativity replacing any kind of rational discourse. Partisans are moved to support their political team and there is very little room for why exactly people either want a change of government or for the status quo to remain. All people do is shout at each other and hope that the ensuring clamour means that their side is winning.
This is why this forum is a non-partisan event. The Patriot group believes that everyone is a stakeholder in this process and for far too long, disparate groups have not been talking to each other but just talking to their various bases. This is a public event and the group wants these civil society groups and politicians to speak to everyone and tell people what they aspire to.
The rakyat should then take in all they hear and determine if there needs to be change or if those defending the status quo have made their case. This is not an opportunity for more divisions but for people to come together in the spirit of solidarity and hear what people aspire for this country.
This forum is not an avenue to vent about what is wrong with this nation. This forum is an avenue for what people express what they want their elected representatives to aspire to. This is why this forum is important because everybody can have their say without having to go through the rigmarole of “participating” in a normal forum.
This joker, Martabat Jalinan Muhibbah Malaysia (MJMM) President Abdul Rani Kulup Abdullah, is also welcome to Forum Aspirasi Rakyat
Hopefully, it is truly a marketplace of ideas for an election over which people have taken sides and think that whoever is on the other side is wrong or wishes to destroy this country. While the Patriot group has been very clear in their criticism of the present regime, this does not mean they want this forum to be a tool for anti-establishment rhetoric.
This is why it is important that representatives from the ruling coalition attend this forum and engage the rakyat with what they aspire to and at the same time, occupy a stage where their political opponents have the same rights as they do.
This forum is not about political parties but about ideas. Or at least that is what the organisers hope for. This is why they want this forum to be one about the aspirations of the nation and not a litany of what is wrong with this country.
In this way, this forum is unique and a challenge to politicians, civil society groups and any other kind of social group for they have to share and speak out on the same platform on what they hope the new government would aspire to.
Discussions point to the reality that we are so fragmented in this country. We are separated by the news we consume. We are separated by race, religion, class and more importantly, political affiliation. We forget that Malaysians who support any of the coalitions all want to live in a peaceful, prosperous country but have very different ideas of how to go about doing this.
Before May 9, let us all come together and aspire to something greater than what we have now. Maybe this could be the final spark that ignites the change this country so desperately needs.
S. THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.