Scaring Malaysians Off Change
Tonight, I attended the forum organised by the Democratic Action Party titled "No To Police State in the Blogosphere", and of course, centring around the recent detention and release of my boss, Nat Tan.
A lot of theories have been going around as to why Nat was detained for virtually nothing — as many noticed, the police were basically punishing responsible authors willing to put a name to what they write, and willing to remove defamatory material, while letting anonymous name-callers off the hook.
One interesting theory is that this was meant to distract the independent/pro-opposition media from the Altantuya case; it's a possibility.
Nat presented a more interesting argument, though — that his detention was meant by the Inspector-General of the Police, Musa Hassan, to stir up attention about his apparently much-disliked boss, Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharom.
After all, as Nat said, who knew about the specific allegations against Johari before Nat was detained? Who knows about them now? Furthermore, the case distracted people from the allegations against Musa that he has been involved in prominent gangs — allegations flying everywhere just before Nat was taken in.
It's an interesting theory, and one which, I grant, has a decent chance of being true. But the way I see it, those in the establishment have two priorities. The first is to obtain the right, as an individual, to screw Malaysians over; the second is to maintain the right, as a collective, to continue screwing Malaysians.
Clearly, Johari and Musa have been quarrelling over who has the right to screw Malaysians in this area. But it is in the interest of whoever wins this battle to ensure that they can continue to hold on to that right — that they can stop the movement of change dead in its tracks.
The way I see it, they are frightening off people like me, people who Nat has been working hard to recruit into the cause of change. They are frightening off bloggers, who tend to avoid being completely partisan in their politics.
The reason they are so frightened of us is because we aren't politicians; we aren't partisans. We are people who care, and when the people start to take back their country and their government, the elite who used to control that country and that government get very afraid.
Nat loves to make the point that you cannot change Malaysia without changing the government. I think most, if not all, of us recognise that. However, not all of us are keen partisan supporters of the opposition; we vote for it and tell people to vote for it more as a means of punishing the government than to elect the opposition.
The government is afraid that this is the kind of thinking which will become more prevalent, because this is the kind of thinking which will topple the government. And this is the kind of thinking which flourishes in a non-politically-partisan but nevertheless politically aware organisation for change.
Moreover, this kind of thinking gets people energised about the kind of change they would like to see in their government, and they will start to get involved in their own way. A new political party — one which might actually break free from the old paradigms of opposing for the sake of opposing, etc. — arising from true grassroots political awareness among the people would be a very frightening thing for the powers-that-be.
And that is why we have to keep on working quietly in our non-partisan but nevertheless politically aware way for change. We need not be focused on supporting a particular politician, because in the end, democracy is not about what politicians, be they government or opposition, want. It's about what the people want.
Democracy is what Nat and people like him are fighting for. Democracy is what will make Malaysia the dynamic nation it has the potential to be. Democracy is what will change Malaysia for the better. You can't scare Malaysians away from changing this country if this country is a democracy.