Barring any announcements to the contrary, the 13th Malaysian parliament will automatically be dissolved on 24th June 2018.
With the dissolution of the 13th Parliament, as provided for by the Constitution, it paves the way for new elections to be held to elect members for the 14th Malaysian Parliament, which must be held no later than August 24th, 2018.
And despite whatever claims there may be with regards to the concentration of the popular vote or the idealism behind the concept of proportional presentation, the manner by which the 14th general elections is to be conducted shall be no different to when general elections was first held in 1955 and that is by the ‘First Past the Post’.
As it was for the 13th general elections, what is at stake at the 14th general elections are not only the 222 parliamentary seats (which are up for grabs), but also the direction and fate of the nation, the position and the rights of the stakeholders, the fate of the spirit of the social contract signed by the founding founders of the country, the position and the rights of the nine royal households of Malaysia, the position of Islam as the national religion of the nation, the state of civil society and the state of the body politics.
So many issues and so little actual constructive debate.
The 14th general elections is, by all means and purposes, the latest in the continuing saga of general elections that has rocked the nation since the 1990s : intense in its rhetoric, reckless and callous in its accusations, and where the law seemed only to apply for the ruling but for they who see themselves as the ‘saviours of the nation’, exemption is the name of the game.
Any attempt to apply the law evenly, regardless of their political leanings, is seen as an effort to impose the police state and is therefore decried by parties whose interests are none but their own.
It is also a line popularly parroted by they who are not of this nation but yet, wanting to give their two cents worth to influence whatever it is they want to influence in this country. For their own interests, of course.
(I mean, if you cannot actually influence ‘democracy’ at your own doorstep, please keep your so-called advice for the home audience and not hide behind the names of any one of our Malaysian states.)
When the then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed put into place the framework by which Malaysia’s advent into the Age of Information Technology was based on, it was cautioned even back then, of the pitfalls that the newly launched Malaysian Super Corridor (MSC) can bring. It was foresaw even back then that if checks were not put in place, the new-found freedom brought by the Age of Information Technology will be sorely abused, much to the detriment of the nation.
Ever the maverick, Tun M dismissed such notions out of hand and to add salt to wound, introduced a Bill of Guarantees in support of the newly launched MSC, a bill that included a ‘no internet censorship’ clause, relying very much on civil society being civil enough, responsible enough and bright enough to be able to differentiate between truth and falsehood.
Noble it may sound but that is all there is to it. And yes, it still sounds noble and yes, that’s about it.
Society today, as almost everybody will admit, is so wired especially in the urban areas, each with their quota of FB, Twitter, IG to complement their instant messaging apps, that it is difficult to find anybody who can be described as being uninformed.
Whether the information so readily available at the fingertips of these urban dwellers are verified, or mis-information or dis-information is no more of utmost importance, never mind a consideration.
The civil (?) society of today, it seems, seem to base the truth factor on the ‘shock’ and the ‘awe’ and the ‘scandal’ that these ‘information’ communicates.
The more scandalous the information, the higher the truth factor. Whether it is logical or utterly ludicrous, that’s for the back burner.
No topic is considered sacred. Any topic or issue is fair game. Whether it is on the right side of decency and accords the respect to one’s privacy, that, it seems, is immaterial.
So immaterial that lesser known legislation or legislation that seldom see the light of day is now on the tip of everyone’s tongue.
This state of affairs can be judged by the number of people seem to be quite well versed with the Sedition Act, and with terms as ‘Fair Comment’, ‘Whistleblower’, and what have you, as they dominate reportings on the official media.
Respect for the position of Islam itself has gone out of the window. If its bad enough when non-Believers can quote the Believer passages from the Believer’s Holy Book, and in the Believer’s place of worship at that, but when fellow Believers themselves start to criticise and question the practices and belief system of the Believers, the question that arises is ‘Just what is your agenda?’.
Granted that the theologians themselves, whether they are part of the civil service or otherwise, are also partly to be blamed for these state of affairs.
The many proclamations as well as actions decrying or denouncing of what used to be OK, have left many confused, to say the least.
And we all know what confusion sows.
To make things worse, the increase in numbers of the wannabe but highly ignorant ‘theologians’ (to use the local terms ie the ustazs and the ustazahs) who proselytize from the safety of their keyboards behind hidden and hijacked FB identities (amongst others) is also to blamed.
Again, information, mis-insformation and dis-information.
In short, mis-information, dis-information and its ilk eg fake news, photoshopped images are now the order of the day, affecting everything that we, the average Malaysian holds dear or even take for granted.
The respect for our institutions, be they political or governmental, security or law enforcement, royalty or civilian, the respect for the sanctity of religious beliefs including on the position of Islam, the rights of the Bumiputera are all, as I mentioned earlier, ‘fair comment’ today.
If we are not careful, this ‘fair comment’ thing may be the cause of a severe and serious breakdown in race relation and religious tolerance in this country.
Having had an experience of that in my childhood, I do not think we would wish for a repeat performance, even though there are some who instigates for one.
If it happens, will the instigators, with their ‘fair comment’ on the position of Islam, rights of the Bumiputera, position of the Malay royal households, assume responsibility for the damage they have done?
Personally, I doubt it. I seriously doubt it.
But whats surprising is that these instigators are the ones who will lose the most should such an event occurs. But yet, they persist with their instigations. Or do they know something that we do not.
Malaysia, with its rich diversity in its people, religions and culture, can be likened to a glass house. It is not unknown that stones have been thrown by hands that brazenly hides behind catchy slogans like ‘free speech’, ‘human rights’, ‘democracy’, ‘voice of the people’, ‘ people’s court’ and what else have you.
Before the cracks starts to widen beyond any sort of repair, either civil society starts showing some civic mindedness and a return to common sense OR a more concerted effort to enforce the laws of the land with more authority be made.
Before it’s too late.
Date : 26 July 2017