Friday, April 26, 2013

The Cult of Violence....

For more than fifty years after Independence and with the exception of the May13th incident, Malaysia had enjoyed peace and stability. Relatively speaking that is for intermittent criminal activities take place in all societies, however stable and peaceful. Malaysia also had its fill of atrocities and violence during the Japanese and Koumintang regime. After Independence even a nightclub or a street murder was a rare and disturbing news.a look of fear

But today, things seem to change. Other than the rampant drug related scourge, reports on serious crimes like infanticide, murder and rape of even children, street murder, abduction and extortion, vicious gang-fights and gruesome killings can be read in the Papers almost every day. Police statistics of about 4000 serious crimes a year is an abject underestimate since many go unreported.The frequency of bloody crimes are only matched by gruesome deaths on the road due to motor accidents. There could be as many as five fatal accidents on the road every in Malaysia but the number of serious crimes committed could triple that number.terror and destruction

The number game is one thing but the gruesomeness of the crime is more disturbing. You can be pumped off with hot lead at a road junction where you've too stop your car, be gunned down while eating at a stall, opening the gate to drive home, or while shopping. A rape victim could be slashed and dismembered, put in plastic bag and left by the roadside. Underage girls could be abducted, gang raped, murdered and dumped into the drain or river. It's clear that the cult of violence has penetrated into our culture, rthe culture of hospitality, warm smiles and and tolerance which Malaysians were famous for at one time.when terror strikes

Of course our Police force is as competent as any in the developed world and solving more that 40% of the serious crimes reported each year. Percentage can be manipulated any way you want and does not tell much.The traffic police is doing better by issuing millions of summons each year for traffic violations and collecting millions (or is it billions now) of ringgit in fines. Both the criminal investigation and traffic branches of the police force are being rapidly expanded to cope with the rise of cars and crimes on the road.

But the cult of violence is something more than just the intermittent crimes that are on the increase. It indicates a loss of the human sense of value towards human life, a rise in sadistic tendencies and a thirst for personal revenge, and the unlimited destructive forces that monetary gains can induce. People can kill for money or personal satisfaction and seemingly enjoy the torture involved in the process. Allowing the the maniacs to hide behind their mental dysfunction, the cold blooded murderers seem to enjoy what they are doing, taking pride in the number of victims they chalked.Whether that has to do with the increase in their bank account is something the police should investigate. Killing for money should be the first order of the day for the police to stop. It should take precedence over the crime of passion since the former is more rampant, though the latter should not be considered lower in terms of gravity.

The cult of violence must be stopped before it spread any further and destroy society's sense of value on human lives. To me even drug related offenses can be given a lower priority since those involved already know the consequence. But to allow the senseless murdering of people on the street for whatever reasons to go unchecked, and not putting the perpetrators to the gallows, is inviting the cult to spread like a cancerous growth in the Malaysian society, erstwhile known for its warmness and hospitality.

Monday, April 22, 2013

New Development in Malaysian Democratic Process.

The registration and announcement of candidates for the 13th General Election in Malaysia on 20th April, saw a number of new development in the democratic process in this country.Healthy or not is a matter for the political parties involved to consider. What Malaysians in general can see is that political parties and the coalitions they formed to wrestle for power in the GE cannot underestimate the will of individual interests and conviction. Individual Malaysians are now courageous enough to voice their disagreement or discontentment with party leadership when the leadership takes things into his own hand. In any country it is such deviants who can remind a powerful leader that not everyone will bow down to his or her dictate.Or afraid of his fury.

No I'm not against the formation of political parties, the formation of coalitions and amalgamation of political power. Nor am I against the enforcement of some strict discipline in the parties or coalitions. I'm just saying that total agreement and support of what the party supremo says can lead to a kind of dictatorship, however mild and covert. We need to have people who can challenge the decisions and action of the supremo or supremos, to remind him or them that the spirit of democracy is still alive. Democracy will ultimately die under the hand of an adulated and sanctified leader. Many sacrificial lambs in the history of mankind caused a society to reexamine itself and make radical changes changes.

In the recent nomination day for GE13th, we see number of party bigwigs or wannabes abandoning the party to become independent candidates. We see 'overlapping candidatures" where the candidates of two parties under one coalition will contest the election under separate flags.Is this an indication of disagreement and conflict between the bosses of the two parties in the coalition and that the coalition is breaking up? Not necessarily. As a leader of one party explained, it was because of a late submission of names.Rather than allow a seat to go uncontested, a name by the concerned party is submitted, But at the last minute the other party also named another candidate representing that party. Wasn't there a dateline for the naming of candidates in that coalition party? We don't know but even if there is, last minute entrants in an election contest is not unknown.

But in the other development, a party bigwig is not agreeable to the candidate chosen by the party or coalition supremo. Hence the party bigwig chose to contest on his or her own as an independent. A number of such cases appeared forcing the coalition supremo to issue an ultimatum that party members contesting the election as an independent will be sacked from the party. Wow this is like being fired from an assured job while the outcome of an election is not known as yet. Couldn't this be considered as a double assurance for the party. If it's candidate wins, well and good. If the independent candidate wins, the party still wins. It only shows that the candidate picked up by the party is not that popular as construed by the supremo and his close buddies. In fact this is a move against within party hegemony. Afterall,within the party it's always possible for jealousy to develop against a popular figure who does not always kowtow to the wishes of the supremo.

In fact this latter issue is the worst that can befall a party or coalition party which had been in power over a long period of time. The supremo becomes almost a demigod and no one dares to go against his will. No one dares criticize him. Cronism and within party hegemony develop leading to the spluttering or disintegration of the party, It is the party member who dares to stand up for his or her own conviction and sense of righteousness, at the risk of being kicked out, who can transform the party and bring to to its senses - that it's just a political party which can be thrown out of power by the electorate if the leadership does not identify with the needs and prior concern of the people in general, and not just those of the party bigwigs who make him a supremo.

A true leader will not fear a candidate who wants to contest the election on his or her own capacity, even if expelled from the party. Afterall such a person can create his or her own party of sypathizers and supporters. Such people are the real kingpins of democracy.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Who do we look for in PRU13 (part2).

The list of candidate for Parliamentary and State seats in the 13th General Election, is already out. For both the ruling government coalition at federal level and for the opposition which rules in four States i.e. Selangor, Kedah, Penang and Kelantan. Within the next few weeks before the Election Commission finalized its register of candidates for the Parliamentary and State Assembly seats, there can be a lot of wrangling and arguments. But, in Malaysia once the leader has spoken, the last word has been said. Any dissident might find himself or herself blackballed.

In the light of the ruling coalition's promise to bring about a transformation in the ruling coalition, Barisan does not seem to make too much of a change in the candidates line-up.The 33% changes in the Parliamentary line-up and 49% in the States' seem to be made up mainly of shifts from State to Parliamentary seat, relocation of candidates to be fielded,and inserting new names to vacated seats or seats currently held by the opposition. The people and the faces remained the same.In Pahang for example, most of the candidates are current incumbents. Only two Menteri Besar will vacate their seats and a number of controversial figures are again in the running.

If transformation means to change the faces of incumbents so that any suspicion of corruption can be removed, a lot of questions can be asked. The fact is that those who have been disciplined for corrupt practices or who have even been widely suspected of such practices will continue to mar the image of the ruling government if retained in a Paliamentary or State seat. Of course such suspicion is sometimes thrown at the entire government, not only in Malaysia but anywhere else in the world where politics have become a rather dirty word. But that's life in a modern democracy where money talks irrespective of social ethics, faith or religion. However, known culprits must be removed if trust is to be restored.

But the worst thing about Malaysian politics, as I observed it, is the haughtiness of the political bigwigs. More interestingly it is not really the big guns that swing around and talk with full authority and pride. It's normally the lesser ones, with no real power to show but close to the top. They might even be the party flag-bearers or messenger boys. The wannabes. They could really damage the image of the party, if they ever get to the top, through the bosses they serve. So, watch out guys. You might not even get a chance to see the real Wakil Rakyat or People's Representatives, i.e. the YBs is these people fill up the corridors of power.

What I am stressing here is that humility is what is wanting in some of the party leaders and their supporters. Humility is what is lacking in the struggle for power, in the bit to win an election. Humility makes the difference between an astute politician and a humble statesman. Thus in many countries throughout history the best leader is one who had undergone a hard life,with many trials and tribulations, sufferings and even torture in a prison cell. This is true of great leaders like Gandhi, Mandela and many others while those who haven't undergone such a life might become powerful leaders but finally fall by the power that they themselves created. Only those with humility and moral integrity will withstand the tests of time.

So, do we go for candidates who go up on the stage and beat their chests saying that they are the best and only they can deliver while others would not be able to do so? Or do we go for those who can tell us what is not coming out right in our current development efforts and progress and which must, therefore,be remedied? Do we go for those who examined themselves for any shortcomings and promised to overcome them or do we prefer those who are overbrimming with self-confidence and promised to give you wealth and riches?

This is of course a free society. You make the choice, for better or for worse.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Who Do WE Look For in PRU13?

Not being a politician, I am still wondering what and who I'll be looking for as winnable candidate in the 13th GE on May 5. What I'm sure about is that I want a leader and not an actor. Especially one who does nothing more than what the Director of a show wants and says nothing more than what is in the script. He has nothing of his own to give to the public but a good performance to make the overall show a success. A good actor takes direction even from the Director's pet, to bark or meow as the script requires.
the anxious electorate

Yes, an effective government takes orders from the top, but with a conscience. Should there be any weakness in the script, things that might go against the interest of the country and the people, the leaders below the overall Chief should be brave enough to advise him. If they are afraid of doing so, afraid of being marked as a recalcitrant or a non-player, then they have lost their effectiveness from the word "go". The whole play will become a one-man show. Not necessary with a disastrous result though if the Chief is himself an exceptional and farsighted leader. Even then, there are things that might escape his attention and cause irreversible damage to the nation. No man (or woman) is perfect anyway.possible reaction to list of candidates

We certainly don't want leaders who are of the yes-sir and bottom-fanning type. No, we don't want hard-headed, obstinate and self-opinionated leaders either. While an effective government needs a team of well coordinated leadership at all levels of government, there should be room for serious exchange of views incorporating public opinions in all discussion on policy matters. If a leader has to tell the Chief that people in his or her constituency do not support a certain move, he or she has to tell the Chief so in no uncertain terms.If he or she is unable to do this for fear of loosing how job, then he or she is not a leader but just an actor.

High-level civil servants are the other team players that need to sync their action with the political leaders but need not 'sink' in the 'yes-sir' syndrome. They have to provide actual feed-back to the government on the progress of programs just implemented and not give a report to please the boss. I should think that a report containing unexpected reaction from the public due to misunderstanding or poor implementation, would be more useful for further action than one that simply praises the program. To praise is easy. To give an honest, well documented criticism for ameliorative action is much more difficult. It can hurt the officer making the report and a good leader should see to it that this doesn't happen if a report is to be useful as a feedback mechanism at all.

Well, who do I want as a leader in the government again after the 13th GE? What constitutes 'winnability'? I would go for a self-righteous candidate, free from any accusation of corruption as shown by a reasonable style of life and not of the luxuriously haughty type, friendly and accessible, and more often seen as an ordinary man/woman walking the street and attending religious function at the mosques or other places of worship rather than always in coat and tie (or an expensive dress) with officious-ness writ large all over him or her. To be avoided is one who always speaks from a prepared speech in an oratory manner, and never capable of or willing to just talk freely from his or her heart with obvious honesty.

What about the political party he or she represents? As I said, I am not a politician. All I care for is an honest man or woman in Parliament or the State Legislative Assembly representing the ordinary people and not just the elites in society.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ironies of Progress.

We have very good road in Malaysia. But enjoy it at more than 90kph in KL/Selangor and 110kph elsewhere, you'll get a ticket that costs RM300. Even the locally produced cars are getting better with top speed reaching 220kph.Unfortunately you cannot test their capability. Infact at times in certain areas where there's no traffic or congestion, you must go at only 60kph or even 40kph. You can have the chance of seeing a bicycle overtaking your powerful luxury car.
unreasonable speed limit
Cleanliness has improved so much in the towns and shopping areas, especially the Malls and shopping complexes. Still, there are places where you can't find a trashcan or 'tong sampah' within easy reach to throw your used tissue papers, food wrappers, bottles,cans, etc. You've to keep them first in your pocket or handbag until you find a convenient place to throw them away. And that for some, may not be a rubbish dump or a trashcan. It could be on the well-swept roads or the sidewalk, the drains and even at the corner of a shop. Hey, you can sometimes see the missile flying out of passing cars. Or rubbish bombs dropping from a high-rise building.So do look up sometimes when passing such residential areas.
bicycles can go faster
Talk about modern residential areas with swimming pools, parking lots, beautiful gardens etc.If it's located in the heart of towns and cities, you certainly can't run away from the hustle and bustle of the urban life. Rooms and even lounges are often small and air-conditioned. So the older folks can go to the little park of garden for a walk and get some fresh air. But can you get the peace and quiet that yopu want. Cars and motorcycles, especially when owned by the young ones, instead of being fitted with silencers, are now fitted with exhausts as large as a cannon. And they do make a noise as loud as a cannot but on a sustained basis. They can cause your eardrums to collapse.
milky rivers
Well, go to the countryside if you want peace and quiet. Have a picnic by the sea shore, the riverside, the lush green hills. Better still buy a second home or a weekend hideout there. Have you done that? First of all the water at the seashore, the river and the stream may not be the 'sparkling, sweet smelling, and invigorating life-force' like we read in the novels anymore. It can be full of oil spills, silt, rubbish and scums. Some streams have been turned into rubbish dumps. Worst of all you don't get the peace and quiet that you sought for anymore. Bulldozers, tractors, huge old trucks, generators, water-pumps, high-powered lawn mowers, chainsaws, and a thousand and one modern machanized work tools could be producing the cacophony that can make you crazy. Green and lush hillsides in both the urban and rural areas are being mechanized away to be replaced by the brick and iron jungle. That's modernization at its best.

The greatest pity, the green playing fields in both urban and rural areas are disappearing. In the urban areas, commercial and residential edifice takes over. Modern playgrounds and courts are exclusive for members. In the rural areas the playgrounds are often left uncared for until the secondary jungles take over. Yes, the youths have left the villages or kampungs and the old folks don't spend their leisure hours in the 'kebun' or the fields anymore. You will find them discussing politics at the coffee shops. No worry though for their sons and daughters are graduates and earning a good salary. Sell a piece of land and they can perform the haj, if their normal saving is noit enough.

Hey, we are a progressive and modern country, fast moving to become a developed nation like the US, UK, Japan etc. But the ironies mentioned, and those are only a few, are real. You may not see them living in your luxury homes. But the kids who are being tortured from small to attend the kindergartens, the schools, colleges and universities, the tuition classes, the extra-curricular programs,the youth camps, the national service etc are feeding the strain.I used to like dreaming about being a kid again. But now....I don't think I like it anymore.