By KJ John | MalaysiaKini
I always believed paranoia was the sickness of weak and fearful people, or those who have just cause for abject fear. For example, after 9/11, the Americans were absolutely overcome with paranoia only because such an unfortunate incident was “not in their paradigm of possibilities; worse still, probabilities!” Therefore, I could tolerate, accept and appreciate their paranoia as they did three 100 percent complete checks on me within the same airport in November 2001.
But, why is the government of Malaysia also paranoid these days? First we ban “an avowedly peaceful rally to ask for clean and fair elections”. Nonetheless, it then became the best example of a peaceful rally of ordinary Malaysians reflecting the 1Malaysia syndrome; except for police disturbance.
But the police did it in order to achieve their agenda of ‘self-fulfilling their concept of a ban’. Thereby they created chaos for Malaysians in the capital city by artificially creating a chock-a-bloc situation with their arbitrary and disingenuous road checks. They were a self-fulfilling prophecy; demonstrating their power and authority but nothing else.
Then they banned 91 individuals from entering certain KL geographic areas but were using the 2007 list of names and participants of Bersih 1.0. Finally they ban yellow T-shirts as ‘potential weapons of mass danger’, and arrest innocent citizens for wearing such yellow T-shirts.
Earlier, they created the fear of “enemies of state” trying to establish a Christian state (can someone tell me what that means anyway), believing a blogger. Now, even the peaceful, erudite and eloquent but activist Islamic scholar Dr Asri Zainul Abidin is considered a national threat. Ambiga Sreenevasan was declared a Hindu nationalist threat.
Just a month ago, the PSM 6 were legally detained under the Emergency Ordinance for allegedly being a “communist threat to the nation”. But suddenly, they are no longer a threat but the police do not apologise for their mistake. Can someone please explain all this fear?
Why all this scheming and planning to create an “apparent air of chaos” in a country now being declared as one of the most peaceful in the world. Please remember also that the police found an arsenal of weapons, perfectly colour-coordinated and brand-new weapons of war, and ‘petrol bombs in plastic bottles’, all said to be part and parcel of the Bersih 2.0 arsenal. Presumably, all China-made and distributed.
Justifying the next ‘national emergency’?
Let me take a guess. Maybe all this is to justify the making of the next “national emergency” and the requisite ISA detentions. Maybe they are strategic moves from the playbook of Operation Lallang now being readied.
I even see signs of the mainstream media being linked “to a Hitler-like propaganda programme of misleading the nation about what is public interest”.
All these manoeuvrings are developed within modern institutions of democracy; whether it is called the Election Commission, or the Media Council, or even the National Professors Council. It is therefore simply most appropriate that all mainstream media professionals stayed clear from the so-called Media Council recently. As Prof AB Shamsul rightly said recently, there is something “really rotten with our state of democracy”.
The last I heard anything about any Media Council was when Zaid Ibrahim was de facto Law Minister. But not only did the current so-called Media Council meet behind closed doors, what was even more astounding is that the Internet or alternative media was excluded but nevertheless represented by another “crony”, the so-called Blog House.
The original and genuine Bloggers group was called Bloggers’ United Malaysia or BUM. I attended one of their annual conferences and argued why the media was the 5th estate and not the fourth. I had argued that traditionally and always the fourth estate was the public service and this needed to be understood, appreciated, and recognised correctly by all concerned.
The media then becomes the fifth estate and has an equal role to keep the rest of the governance system under check and balance. I have always called the community of ordinary citizens as the sixth estate of good governance. Global institutions of good governance become the 7th estate.
Therefore I find it humorous that the secretary-general of the Information Ministry, a fourth estate representative, is appointed by a government minister to lead and set up this important and needed self-surveillance group of the media professionals. But he is not a media professional.
This move establishes and confirms my thesis that the public service must become the fourth estate; not an extension of intentions of the executive. The current non-existent fourth estate has become too blindly compliant to the executive agenda.
Serving with professionalism and neutrality
Originally and always, in the British tradition of parliamentary democracy, the public service could serve any government in power with true professionalism and neutrality. After half a century of Malayanisation (actually, to be accurate we must call this ‘Melayuisation’), we have lost this culture of neutrality and professionalism.
Today, it is a rather blind compliance culture under the rubric of “saya yang menurut perintah;” meaning ‘perintah of the menteri,’ and not that of the Agong, or even in the public interest.
Therefore, the Agong meeting Bersih representatives in a public audience and requesting them to meet in a stadium was a breakthrough of professional neutrality. But, the resultant and subsequent non-compliance is an abject and total disregard for the institution of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong by the government of the day; whether the executive or the public services.
It takes a neutral fourth estate to take orders only from the Agong, when the government of the day has some variant political ideas about the nature of good governance and the public interest.
So, my advice to the executive in Malaysia… please do not become paranoid. The Good Lord decides who rules Malaysia come the next general election, and please remember the whole world is also watching. What is free or not free or not fair will ultimately be decided by the people of Malaysia.
Gerrymandering can only help up to a certain point. If the swing is so severe, as had happened and almost happened in 1969 and again in 1999, the possibility of regime change is very real.
Nonetheless, in this day and age, the use of unfair and unethical means of “rule by law” will not sustain any system that has been constitutionally governed under the rule of law principle. Please read Ambiga’s acceptance speech on receiving an honorary doctorate in law from the University of Exeter, Britain and you will understand my sentiments on this issue. May God bless Malaysia.