Malaysiakini Letter

Egypt a lesson for all Malaysians

Toffeesturn  |  Published:  |  Modified:

My predictions were wrong. Hosni Mubarak still clings on to the illegitimate power he wields in Egypt through the power of the gun.

Having said that, one can have nothing but admiration for the Egyptians, a peaceful protest by one million people. We have had the same in our country, with 10,000 people at one of our rallies, peaceful but disrupted by the police.

We were beaten, had chemically-laced water sprayed on us and chased from one corner of Kuala Lumpur to another, but do not forget the Egyptians had that too, till their numbers began to swell on the streets.

The Egyptians threatened for a while yesterday to march to the Presidential Palace, but I think others in the crowd asked them to keep it peaceful for the time being at least. That was about 11pm yesterday - a peaceful crowd exercising their democratic rights.

Imagine Egypt is transparent about the fact that it is not a democracy, and yet today it has allowed its people the right of peaceful demonstrations, and this is only because the people decided enough is enough.

Peaceful demonstrations is a basic human right as basic as the right to breathe, to eat, and if that right is taken away from a person, he is being downgraded to a level below that of a human being, and that is what this government has done to us.

We are supposedly a democracy with free and fair elections, but where they can dabble with the composition of the electoral constituencies, where known opposition constituencies have as much as 50,000 voters and the BN strongholds have as little as 5,000, and sometimes even less. That is our democracy.

In our democracy, the Elections Commission will not listen to the opposition, the speaker of the state assembly declares a seat vacant and the EC decides it will "investigate", which simply means waiting for order from the top. That is our democracy, a kind of crazy democracy.

Corruption is so widespread even the PM's wife can assume official positions although she has not received a single vote for office. She has her own staff and office in Putrajaya, she travels the world speaking to ministers and others, and sometimes making decisions that effect the national purse.

We have multi-billion dollar scandals swept under the carpet and not investigated because those involved are politicians and their cronies.

Children of ministers become millionaires, as though the position of minster automatically makes children of ministers millionaires.

Ling Liong Sik once told us that his 26 -year- old son at that time became a millionaire because he worked hard. This was an insult to ordinary Malaysians who slog day and night and are unable to make even the tiniest fraction of what he had earned by then. Today, that minister is charged, but I am sure he will come out free. Implicating him will open a bag of worms this government is not prepared to do.

The Mahathir boys have come out very rich. Well, I suppose they did a lot of hard work and their father did nothing to help them even in the 1997 financial crisis.

This beloved country of ours is going to the dogs. Only yesterday, I received a message from a Malaysian in Canada, responding to my Chinese New Year weather forecast, she complained how cold it gets there.

Now I am sure you do not want your children to be driven there by hopelessness, so the next time you have the opportunity do something go out there and be counted.  Numbers do matter.

We can't just sit on our backsides and hope for change, for us, more so for our children and our children’s children. We owe them at least that much.

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