Never mind the impending yet elusive 13th general election (13GE) that is lurking dangerously ahead. Political pundits are kept busy mulling over the various post-13GE permutations, ranging from a coup de grace of Umno et al to a retrogressive return to the old order of a one-dominant party system.
Never mind the much-awaited judgment due to be handed down on the Sodomy II trial of the former deputy prime minister on 901 (January 9). It is no exaggeration to suggest that the ears of the entire world await the verdict which, in typically Malaysian style, is virtually a fait accompli. And yet again another lost opportunity for the judiciary to redeem its tainted honour and respect and as for the “state of the Federation” an indictment of sorts.
But for a relentless yet realistic optimist as he claims himself to be, this writer would like to think that there is always space for a new and better Malaysia in 2012 despite the overbearing odds! It simply begs the question as to what is it that had incarcerated and has continued to enslave the Malaysian body, mind and soul?
Lest you think the writer is being inflammatory, stoking the sentiments of the electorate and the rakyat or at least the “faithful” so as to be “engaged” in the political events and “happenings” by laying a fuse to ignite a “Malaysian Spring” phenomenon, the likes of Bersih 2.0 or even 901, sorry, you got him wrong again. The crux of contention is really about how do we get rid of the Malaysian political milieu the yoke of “submissiveness” and “inertness”?
Notwithstanding the activism of contemporary civil society, the vast “passive majority” of the non-partisan rakyat has remained dreadfully and ominously muted. While that “inertia or inactivity” might partially explain the perpetuation of political apathy, hence political hegemony of the Umno-BN, it doesn’t really explain why and how it evolved and, if left unplugged, would continue unabated, vilifying the Malaysian political landscape.
This article is an attempt at understanding why such a pathetic ambience of apathy and obliviousness persisted, nay in fact thrived, in a society that is ironically experiencing tremendous upheaval and perennial political turbulence. The answer plain and simple is FEAR!
This writer firmly believes that if the Malaysian citizenry is able to break the yoke and tear the shackles of FEAR, the nation would catapult unto an entirely different trajectory and hence shall experience genuine reformation and subsequent national transformation.
As a prerequisite to reform, the rakyat must understand how this regime perpetuates their hegemonic grip on power and subjugating its people through the exploitation and institutionalisation of the politics of FEAR.
Fear is arguably the most powerful enemy of Reason. While Reason may sometimes dissipate Fear, oftentimes Fear shuts down Reason. So the threat Fear poses to Reason is real and founded. Once Fear displaces Reason and surrenders its freedom to a demagogue or a bigot or a bunch of “politicians” from any ideological persuasions or conviction, promising a return of strength, security and perhaps “supremacy and lordship” over others, the endgame is one of racial and religious bigotry, irrationality, hatred and dissension.
Nations succeed or fail and truly define their national character by the way they challenge the unknown and cope with Fear. If leaders irresponsibly exploit public fears to herd people in directions or make them submit their freedom in return for “superiority, security and strength”, Fear then becomes a self-perpetuating force that undermines national will and weakens its national character.
Responsible leaders inspire its people to manage their legitimate fears and bring about a “well-informed citizenry” based on Reason. But irresponsible leaders instead would exploit fear and trigger the temptation to surrender its freedom to demagoguery and bigotry.
The aforementioned narrative aptly describes the politics of fear of the ruling Umno-BN for decades. The exploitation of Fear has been more pronounced of late. In fact it is the politics of post-12GE of the Umno-BN government which is now hell-bent on perpetuating fear that is subverting the birth of a truly functional and a vibrant democracy.
The rude awakening of losing its political stranglehold and resignation to the fact that regaining the majority of Chinese and Indians support look like entirely untenable or a near impossible, save the MCA-MIC diehards, Umno has now turned to only the Malays, the gullible and undiscerning sections of the Malay community.
Umno now harps on the primordial fear of Malays, which in fact is their own creation — “should Umno lose political supremacy, the Malays are at risk of losing entirely this nation including their religion to the non-Malays especially to DAP”, a Chinese chauvinist party, as adamantly promoted by the Umno-BN media.
Umno has exploited and abused every avenue and means to incite racial insecurity and stoke religious intolerance of the Malays and the Umno general assembly (GA) spoke all. My critique on the Umno GA is evident in my most recent writing “Umno-Najib needs a game-changer?”
Despite the recent expose of how Umno leaders plundered the wealth of the nation, now epitomised by the “Cowgate” scandal and the humiliating controversy involving a religion-based minister and many others as alleged by the minister embattled by the NFC scandal, the Umno-BN government has the audacity to lay claim that a Pakatan federal government would bankrupt the nation. Atrocious… sigh!
Umno unashamedly goes around preaching to the undiscerning and gullible Malays that their future rests in Umno helming the federal government and clinching political victory in the next GE.
Umno is totally oblivious that the Malays are now fully cognisant as to how they — Umno — have impoverished the Malays to become the ethnic group suffering most in both inter- and intra-ethnic income-wealth disparity. They have only enriched disproportionately the elite Umnoputera, perhaps BNputera!
Of late they have descended to the ultimate low by any norms of human decency by directly instilling and perpetuating FEAR, through the sheer use of brute force.
The Lawyers For Liberty (LFL) has condemned the act of police brutality inflicted on student activists who were peacefully assembling to demand academic freedom in front of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) on January 1 at about 12.30am. This event again spoke all.
Umno has now wantonly used excessive force against peaceful and unarmed students in its attempt to disperse the students. This penchant for the display and use of disproportionate force by the police, as condoned by their political masters, is an act of cowardice and pathognomonic Umno’s politics of fear!
The outcome of GE13 and the verdict of 901 are surely pivotal milestones and watershed events in the nation’s political history. But until and unless we are able to stand up to debunk bigotry, demagoguery and politics of fear, this nation is doomed and 2012 shall yet be another politics-as-usual year!
So shall we all stand up and be counted! Shall we all say NO to the politics of fear?