Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

You Can't Run Away from Politics

Written by johnleemk on 1:36:55 pm Jul 23, 2007.

It never fails to amaze me at how slow people are in making the link between politics and the state of the country, the state of our lives. Malaysians are pretty good at complaining about how bad our current circumstances are, but not quite as great at finding the solutions to our problems.

Everyday, I hear a new complaint about something wrong with the country. The roads are being unnecessarily retarred, while the LRT trains have leaking roofs. The JPA won't give you a scholarship to the Ivy League university that admitted you, but it will give a scholarship to some student at an Irish university nobody's ever heard of.

If you just think about it and reflect on it, it should be obvious to you why things are the way they are: because of the people we put in power. Just think about how you would change things, and the things you would need to effect change, and you realise pretty quickly that most of the things you complain about can only be solved by changing who holds the reins of power.

If your university is imposing a ridiculous dress code while refusing to tackle structural academic problems, whose fault is it? Of course the university officials. Who puts the university officials there? Who nurtures this culture of a facade of excellence while not giving two shits about actual excellence? The government.

The sad thing is that a lot of people don't realise this, and neither do most politicians. If they want to get the young excited about politics, all they have to do is hammer home the problem of education — it's a problem that every student and parent needs the answers to.

The problem is, our government has been very good at spinning politics as something not relevant to your life. It mouths the word "democracy", but it doesn't practice it, and sees to it that you never learn what it means. Even school elections are a facade because student leaders have no freedom.

It's no surprise that Malaysians can't see how to connect their problems to their source — poor governance and poor management. But the more you reflect on them, the less you can escape the reality of who is behind them.

Jeff Ooi was once known for blogging on information technology; even today his posts heavily emphasise that perspective. But he is known for his political writing, because he knows that to effect change in the IT world, what is needed is political change.

If something like IT is inextricable from politics, why shouldn't anything else be? The fact is, politics matters to all of us. You might not want to join a party (neither do I); you might not want to be a politician. But as a citizen, you have the choice to vote, or to not vote; the choice of which politician, which party to vote for. If you care about something, if you care about yourself, why shouldn't you vote? You can't run away from politics.

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Infernal Ramblings is a Malaysian website focusing on current events and sociopolitical issues. Its articles run the gamut from economics to society to education.

Infernal Ramblings is run by John Lee. For more, see the About section. If you have any questions or comments, do drop him a line.

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