Spotlight on optimism
- From: "@@@pluto" <%%%pluto@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 13 Sep 2005 02:01:03 +0800
Spotlight on optimism
Sugu Sep 12, 05 1:10pm
There was a time when public fields saw political rallies during elections
even as a communist insurgency raged.
That was when local government polls were taken for granted. Smug and
superior, we laughed at the endemic corruption in neighbouring countries.
We were a third-world country then boasting only one university - the
University Malaya which enjoyed autonomy. Politicians of all stripes, among
others, were invited to debate issues of the day to be applauded or booed.
Academic staff and students dressed casually, symbolised students' coming
age, free of the regimented life of high school.
Unkempt hair, casual clothes were the order of the day where substance was
accorded more importance than style. Their minds were being forged for
adaptation and leadership in the outside world and to act as agents of
The student body was in fact the nation's conscience and was allowed to
express displeasure with government actions through demonstrations.
Two years shy of the nation's 50th anniversary, that conscience has been
snuffed out and is a distant memory. That loss is impacting now with
thousands of graduates found unfit for employment, the lack of soft skills
blamed for their plight.
That the government is bent on spending taxpayers' money to retrain them is
tacit admission of abject failure in meeting the basic requirement for
nation building. Not a happy sign in a world spinning on the digital axle.
Most rivers are murky, drinking water has to be filtered; local governments
are a power unto themselves, and patriotism is perceived and fostered as
synonymous with loyalty to the leadership.
No more rallies in the padang (fields), which had brought the public and
politicians together in a highly visible and exciting celebration of
None of the carefully orchestrated Pemimpin Mesra dengan Rakyat events can
replace the spirit of free participation that flourished at such rallies.
fact, an open and free political education happening for all includes the
It's a sad irony that under extreme conditions, the Palestinians can
organise rallies and local council polls while we, a country enjoying much
vaunted peace and racial harmony, cannot.
As we celebrate Merdeka to mark the lifting of the colonial yoke, a thought
intrudes - in the time that had flowed since then, another yoke had been
fashioned upon our necks.
And so over the dark years maggots have waxed fat feeding on the corruption
investing the body politic.
But all, it seems, is not lost as the Abdullah Ahmad Badawi administration
continues its crackdown on corruption.
The Star, on Aug 23, during the haze scare, cleverly captured the new
atmosphere in its front page, a series of mugshots of those found guilty of
graft stacked up on the left. This was juxtaposed against a giant Jalur
Gemilang with the Twin Towers piercing a clear blue sky in the background.
And the headline, Haze Clears, held a larger significance than carried by
those two words in the context of current happenings. The treatment of the
story would have brought the wrath of the authorities crashing down on the
paper in double quick time.
Before that a senior minister forced to spend time dodging political
and the ministry raided by the Anti-corruption Agency (ACA) made for
extraordinary food for political gossips, especially when the drama was
played out in the full glare of publicity.
That yet-to-be-concluded saga has opened up a can of worms. An ill omen for
those with vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Continued action
has added strength to the feeling that the stables are being swept clean.
In his speech on Merdeka day, Abdullah pledged that the individual citizen
will be accorded greater importance than before. This is a dramatic change
from the past when the good of the majority was regularly invoked whenever
something nasty was about to happen.
It can be taken as a signal or recognition that the good of the individual
generally translates into the well being of society.
If that intention of Pak Lah is to materliase, high on the priority list
should be dissolving the constraints binding the arts world, for the
creative juices dammed up in the nation to burst forth. That would
add body to the oft repeated boast of "our rich culture".
The country is desperately in need of satire to prick the pompous
incompetents who impact so negatively on our daily lives.
Politicians and bureaucrats especially are in vital need of that particular
mirror to chasten their ego and to drive home the point that their role is
to serve the people, not lord it over them.
Satire has the power to educate and once more we may be able to laugh at
ourselves as during P Ramlee's time.
True, one could get carried away contemplating the eagerly awaited changes
only to be disappointed.
However, observing the way the changes have been introduced, there is a
palpable sense that Pak Lah is steadily resuscitating public institutions
into fulfilling their duties by curtailing political interference.
If those bodies like the judiciary regain their former glory, surely every
Malaysian heart will swell with pride.
Who knows? Local government elections may be reinstated and the ACA turned
into an independent entity, answerable only to Parliament.
If those twin hopes are able to leave the realm of a pipe dream, then Pak
Lah's legacy would surely be treasured in history.
And there would be no necessity for the minister responsible for organising
Merdeka celebrations to appear on television with a woebegone face, issuing
a reminder that the flag belongs to all Malaysians.
K SUGU began his journalistic career in 1964 and has worked in the New
Straits Times, The Star and The Sun. He became a Buddhist monk in 1981 and
had his first taste of press freedom when he worked in Bangkok for The
Nation. He is now retired and spends his time writing and trying to get a
handle on the fleeting nature of life.
Ministry's hush-hush meetings linked to campus polls?
Beh Lih Yi Sep 12, 05 12:30pm [extract]
A series of secret meetings co-ordinated by the higher education ministry
has brought together top university officials, Umno representatives and
'pro-establishment' student leaders, apparently to strategise for the
government camp's success ahead of the upcoming annual campus elections.
A document in malaysiakini's possession shows that the ministry had invited
the deputy vice-chancellors overseeing students affairs at all 17 public
universities or university colleges to gather at the Umno headquarters for
one of the meetings on July 27.
A letter signed by the ministry's welfare division head Assoc Prof Dr
Muhammad Hussin stated that the meeting - dubbed the 'varsity student
activities co-ordinating meeting' - also required the presence of the
respective heads of the students council.
Documents attached listed a series of activities and briefings planned by
the ministry from August to September for the campus authorities as well as
'pro-establishment' (or government aspiration) candidates in connection
the elections, tipped to be concluded by next month.
[pluto note: the above is a verbatim copy and paste message without any comment from me. If i have any comment, it is in square brackets thus [pn...]
Reading without understanding is idiotic.
Understanding without cybernetic dialectics creates harmonious discords]
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