Today our people are divided in so many ways. Whether intended or not these divisions reached its peak under Mahathir’s watch because this Umno-led Barisan Nasional government saw in these divisions their way towards consolidating political power and personal wealth for themselves, their families and their cronies.
The rich and the poor. The powerful and the weak. The VVIP’s and the VIP’s. The connected and the not too connected. The privilege and the not so privileged. Those in Umno and those outside Umno. Those in Barisan Nasional and those outside of Barisan Nasional. The Malays and the non-Malays. Royalty and commoners.
Everywhere we look these barriers became obstacles we encountered on a daily basis and caused great hardship and impossible odds to overcome as we go on with our daily lives and the business of trying to earn a decent living.
It took us this long – 12 general elections in total – to come to the realisation that these divisions within our people have been the result of a conniving politicians from both sides of the divide that had deliberately used these racial and religious barrier to their advantage – both Barsian Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat.
These politicians think that our division is their salvation!
These politicians believe that when our people are in conflict it is easier for them to secure electoral success.
These politicians have that twisted logic to divide and rule their own people because they know that if we are together as one people our first work will be to rid ourselves of these insidious politicians!
How has it come to this? How has these politicians been able to exploit these inherent divisions within our people to their advantage and more to the point – why do we let them?
Of course I am first a Malay. I cannot ignore that reality in Malaysia nor can I ignore that reality anywhere I go. Here in Australia I an acutely aware that I am different from the others that are around me. I see white people, black people and every conceivable hue and colors in between.
I see women covering themselves from head to toe walking alongside another member of her gender with her jeans hung so low that you can see the top of her underwear splendidly exposed.
There are men outfitted in sartorial splendor walking alongside men in shorts so brief that any lady would be remised if she did not make herself look the other way when these men walk by.
Everywhere you turn you are aware of the diversity that abounds around you and yet there is symmetry and balance that is the result of a tolerance of each other individuality and the acceptance of it.
To each his own. And that is why even as I am acutely aware that I am different from the others we are all able to live together because we celebrate our differences.
So why do these politicians talk about our people living in harmony under 1Malaysia when they are the very reason why we have a people divided in every way except for the fact that we call Malaysia our home.
How, as I have asked before, have we come to this?
The power is with us, the people
We have come to this because we allowed these politicians to take advantage of and play on the worst of human frailties – self-interest – and use this weakness to their political advantage.
Let us stop blaming this Barisan Nasional government or Pakatan Rakyat for the state of affairs within our nation today. We have to take our fair share of blame for the state we now find ourselves and our nation hopelessly mired in.
A state of affairs where corruption is endemic, where people go into politics not to serve the nation or its people but to make money for themselves, where the use of race and religion will bring you more electoral success then anything else, where politicians are more the subject of ridicule then of respect.
Where political leaders are without honour or self-respect, where the people’s trust and votes are not earned but bought.
If we are prepared to keep electing the same corrupt politicians to power why are expecting things to change?
And yet where would we find the precedent from our nation’s past to tell us what do? How do we tell our people that this 13th general election is our opportunity to effect change? There is no precedent in our history that will point us to go in the right direction.
Neither had the people in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and now Syria had any precedent in the history of their nation to know what was the right thing to do to rid themselves of the tyrants and dictators that had exploited their time in power for personal gains.
So like them we only have ourselves to depend upon to make these changes that we want as to how we want our nation to be governed.
Never before in the history of our nation have our people been in so much in contract and in communication with each other. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs are our go-to source for information and knowledge when we want to know what is going on around us.
The social media defines our generation – young and old – cutting across barriers of race, religion and culture. When a politician takes from our nation what he is not entitled to, then in anybody language, in any culture, in any religion in any race – we know that that politician has done wrong.
And that information is available to anybody with little or no advanced computer skills. And the impact of that information has toppled government.
What anyone of us think, when put onto the Internet, You Tube, Twitter and Facebook will make a government denial of wrongdoing superfluous if evidence to the contrary is posted on to the public domain through these social media outlets.
Hence we have seen Umno’s capitulation to our demand that Shahrizat Abdul Jalil take responsibility for NFC. In Pakatan Rakyat the impact of social media comments have been to ensure that there is accountability from within the ranks of its first tier leadership for the abuse of public office in the states they control.
There are many other instances we all know off when what is posted onto the public domain will ensure that at the very least, Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat understand that we are watching them and will judge them by what they choose to do when we make clear our displeasure at what they do.
Moving from online activism to offline reality
The mobilisation of this force to organise and generate awareness amongst our people as to whom would best serve our nation’s interest if elected to public office would decide the outcome of this 13th general election.
Political chatter on the Internet will increase as we near the 13th general election and will continue to generate enormous amount of data and information that will determine how we cast our votes.
Real time Internet debating on issues of the day and on matters of interest to the people would be something we can all participate in with the knowledge that both Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional will take cognizance of we say and where necessary act on it.
What we say now can gain momentum, attention and awareness in real time and with this possibility comes the ability to do good or bad to the leaders we want to serve us in government.
Najib Tun Razak and Anwar Ibrahim had been at the receiving end of these possibilities too many times to be unaware that they can feed of the social media as much as the social media can feed off them.
Politicians of all persuasion are now adept at using cyberactivism to advance their political agenda.
Only our ability to discern the good from the bad, the lies from the truth and the right from the wrong stands in their way to achieve their selfish political ends. The political implications and networking capabilities of the social media must be used for good not evil.
Now it is a matter of connecting the social media and our aspirations for change so that the news we read, what we discuss, what we like and what we do not like to be done to our nation is made known to those who will offer themselves for election at this 13th general election.
We need not have to wait until the general election is called to make his known to them. The Internet is immediate. Do it now! This Barisan Nasional government cannot control our ability to communicate and keep in contact with other.
And from this we need to translate our online activism into offline reality by voting for the right politicians to represent us.
This political reality will be harder to achieve because the Internet and the social media cannot solve the massive public debt burden we have. The Internet cannot stop money politics and the endemic corruption favored by politicians once they are in power.
The Internet cannot cast the votes required to get in good, honest and responsible people into government.
What ever we seek today for our future, we must never forget that all this cannot be achieved if we had not had amongst us our heroes. Those who have decided that enough is enough and those who are prepared to face persecution, torture, imprisonment and even death to stand up to this Barisan Nasional government.
Our revolution – if it can be called that – started in the minds and imagination of these individuals and the coming together of all those activists that made protests and demonstrations against the injustice and unfairness perpetrated by this Barisan Nasional government into an honorable duty that many amongst us took upon themselves to undertake.
TIME magazine had “The Protester” as its Person of Year 2011 – so should we.