Our November of discontent

Our leaders live in a gilted cage, enamoured in their self-belief that they are infallible. Fifty years of unchallenged electoral victory has molded this government to be arrogant and insensitive to the needs of its citizens. How else could you describe their attitude and contempt towards the Nov 10 and Nov 25 rallies?

Instead of lending their ears to the audible voices of discontent, on both occasions, the government chose the confrontational route. The peaceful assembly was bombarded with chemical-laced water cannons and tear gas canisters fired at random with intent to cause maximum injury.

Indeed, what was intended as a peaceful gathering to present a petition to the British embassy became a panic-stricken crowd of confused people, running helter-skelter trying to avoid the chemical-laced water cannons and the choking fumes of tear gas flung mercilessly at them.

It would have been understandable if the crowd had been violent or unruly, but it was not. It had followed the precept of Mahatma Gandhi in advocating non-violent civil disobedience. The irony of it all was that it was the police who had deliberately inspired the violence, despite being unprovoked, under the pretense that they wanted to disperse the crowd. But why the urgency to disperse the crowd when Hindraf's stated aim was merely to present a petition to the British embassy?

The government's actions depict a regime that is devoid of any understanding and compassion to its own citizens. Fifty years of continuous electoral victory has made them indifferent to the plight of its own people.

The analogy is similar to what one Australian said of the Howard government. Garments and governments have something in common - when undergarments and socks are worn too often, they become smelly. And when they are smelly, they have to be cleansed. Well, the Australian government got cleansed on Nov 25. Maybe it's about time we also cleanse our government because 50 years have certainly made them very smelly.