Monday, March 16, 2009

what thestar taught us on money and demonstrations

Recently, I read with displeasure two articles titled, “Sick and tired of disruptive demonstrations” and “Worry about the economy, please” on


The first one stated that he/she was stucked in the demonstrations therefore he/she was very unhappy. Is his/her displeasure more important than the freedom of speech? Perhaps he/she would argue that such ‘disruptive’ demonstrations have nothing to do with freedom of speech. But I think it is more likely that because he/she was less interested in the content of the demonstration than his/her family’s nice trip to the city center at that time.

The demonstration was about the teaching of science and maths in English. Perhaps to him/her, family is important but the education of his/her children is less important? Or perhaps he/she could afford private schools so it didn’t matter? Or maybe because he/she believes that the medium of teaching is irrelevant to education of Malaysian’s next generation?

But what if one day he/she had encountered a serious matter that afflicted his/her family but the government turned a blind eye or was slow to take response? What if the lawmakers are not taking you seriously? What if the media is not giving you and your family enough coverage on this matter that you take it so seriously because it mattered to your family very much? What if street demonstration is the only way you can raise awareness and bring this issue to the attention of the public? Would you do it?

What it does not matter to you, does not mean it does not matter to the country or other people living in this country. On the microscale it's called being considerate; on the macroscale it's called the preservation of freedom of speech.

Also, the author implied that demonstrators should never go against the advice of the police when they are ordered to disperse. He/she even drew analogy of this with robbers and Mat Rempit who defies the police. Would you listen to the police if, for example, they pulled you over and issued you a saman for a crime that you did not commit? Would you listen to the police, if he/she had not acted according to the powers given to them? Would you listen to the police, even if they violated the constitution? The constitution that gave us the freedom of speech and the right to street demonstrations?

Law is not the boundary between what is right and wrong. Thinking that whatever that violates law is morally wrong is a mistake that we still teach our young students in school today. While law, in theory, should not be morally wrong, in reality it isn't so. Laws are made by lawmakers for the benefit of the country but sometimes law becomes obsolete and go against our common sense. As in this case when Malaysian law prohibits a gathering of 3 or more people and yet at the same time paradoxically say we have freedom of speech. So please do not even suggest that peaceful street demonstrations are akin to Mat Rempit as there is no where in our constitution that even comes close to agreeing with their actions.

Disruptive demonstrations like the recent ones in Bangkok or Pakistan is bad. But what we have here in Malaysia is nothing close to that. It only look bad because our government made it so - by abusing the power of police and spreading false propaganda through the government controlled media. Shame on you!!


On the second article and I quote, "It’s irrational for our politicians to be more preoccupied with fighting for power rather than fighting to stave off the financial tsunami and saving the jobs of Malaysians."

I have just one question for you: How important is money to you?

Is there nothing more important than money and economy during the time of recession like now that we should put a hold on everything else? Even ideologies that define us as men and women?

Is it ok for us to go back to the brutal feudal times when the King has absolute power and you have absolutely no human rights but you are given a big cottage house next to the beach instead?

There are things that more important than money. Dignity is one of them. Human rights another. But even if you do not believe in these, please believe that without fundamental human rights your wealth will be shortlived.

The power struggle happening now is not just a struggle for power, but it is a struggle for the hope of many people to achieve equality and to finally have our fundamental human rights where it is suppose to be after more than 50 years of independence. I do not pretend that PKR will surely deliver this to us, but at least there is hope. With BN, there is no hope, not at least for another 50 years.

Sure, we all hope that both PKR and BN can come to terms and work together for the economy. But I reckon that this is not possible. We'll just have to accept the fact that short-term sacrifices are inevitable for a better future in the long run. Recession comes and go, but this chance, this one chance that we've waited for so long to topple the tyranny of BN does not come very often.

Sure, money buys us food and other needs. And it is also true that according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that if physiological needs such as food and clothing are not fulfilled, humans would not be bothered with ideologies such as freedom and knowledge. But is our current recession, the greatest recession since the great depression in 1930s, really stripping us off our basic physiological needs such as food and clothing? Or are we just ‘downgrading’ from buying branded foreign cars to taking public transport? Or perhaps ‘downgrading’ from eating French cuisine to nasi lemak? Are we at a state so poor that we need to let go our pursuance of ideologies?

Not all power struggles are bad. Many power struggles in the annals of our history are something that we look back and be proud of - power struggle that toppled the corrupted Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century, power struggle that overthrew the Apartheid Government in South Africa, or even the power struggle that got us our independence in 1957. Our current struggle is a struggle for freedom and equality. And it should be something that we take pride in.

There are things that are more important than money and economy. Love and faith is one. Perhaps you should also consider putting freedom and equality in the list too.

1 comment:

earnyee.tuan said...

Tell the second writer, 就算没有变天,没有补选,就算反对党死光,给巫统搞经济,一样会有炸尸,一样随意购买潜水艇,经济真的会好?