Outrage and anguish at gov't crackdown on Bersih

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Having just recently completed my two-year term as president of the Malaysian Medical Association, I cannot refrain any longer from expressing my personal outrage and that of many among my profession.

I am inclined to believe that many ordinary right-thinking Malaysians share this outrage, and even that intensifying sense of foreboding and anguish.

We are deeply saddened, hurt and disillusioned! What has become of our beloved country? Are we unraveling like all those despotic Middle Eastern countries-Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain even?

It certainly is beginning to look that way, sadly...

Bersih 2.0 is outlawed, although this is a loose coalition of some 65 NGOs, all of which are convinced about the need, nay the imperative, to improve our electoral processes and strengthen our stunted democracy!

Instead of recognising the inherent correctness of our citizens' aspiration towards a better, more accountable, less corruptible system of electoral reform, the authorities have chosen to denigrate and persecute this burgeoning swathe of enlightened social activists as politically biased and opposition-influenced!

There can be no denying that there are political overtones-all social and public life are political! But a wiser government must choose on the side of righteousness and not simply react with knee-jerk political paranoia and high-handed cowardice!

Why, many people are asking, cannot the authorities rise above their partisan prickliness, and join in with the rakyat to ensure that the fairest and most just system works for all Malaysians?

Why cannot the government choose that nobler path, instead of its dodgy attempt to protect clearly untenable positions of barefaced wrongs!?

This would have defused the ugly rhetoric and the partisan clamour, and possibly attract and win a greater political advantage of being with the people.

Instead it is beginning to appear as if the authorities have much to hide, to ‘protect', to perpetuate obsolete institutions of decrepit decline!

As is now evident throughout the world, there can no longer be any escape or protection from the wrath of a people whose rights and livelihood have been trampled upon for too long.

No amount of senseless crackdown can stifle the legitimate aspirations of common and more empowered citizens wishing to take charge of their own lives.

Indeed modern citizens dictate the directed paths of their leaders, who should rightfully be servants of the citizens, and not the other way round.

The police and the military should likewise understand that their roles are to protect the people and not their political masters whose positions can change, and that they might be called to account for their excesses and abuse of power, if any.

Few police states last for long-there is only so much that ordinary citizens can take lying down. Some may react more robustly which can then provoke excessive crackdowns-such sacrifices are now the norm of dislocative reforms thrust upon many unwilling authoritarian governments, of late!

But many of our more placid citizens would simply join the mounting exodus of migrants to other lands, as already manifest from our recent emigration data.

No Talent Corp in the world can hope to reverse this trend, I have been informed by many a cynical non-returning former Malaysian.

And the international community would if not already treat us as a ‘pariah' basket-case nation not worthy of investment or doing business with. Most of us are already sensing that this is indeed the case.

All that is yellow have now been construed of as possessing possible criminal intent-for wearing that yellow statement (a T-shirt, a cap, a scarf, even a pair of shoes!), anyone can be arrested, detained and charged, the police and the Home Ministry have declared!

Which only leads to the moronic irony that even when our royal colours are indeed yellow, are then all royalty, criminals or outlaws? One law for some, and another for others-arbitrary nonsense which can only infuriate well-meaning citizens! Two odd years ago, black was that no-go taboo colour! So are we now to be colour sensitive, obsessed and bigoted?

If a political dissident's detention period runs out, the police have exerted its draconian and much maligned EO (Emergency Ordinance, usually preserved for hardcore criminals and gangs, and which the IPCPC has requested the hard-of-hearing government to rescind) to remand these ‘troublesome' activists for 60 days or longer.

They are also resurrecting the ‘communist' bogeyman! Yes, these have been purportedly carried out to protect the country from possible crimes and public endangerment, it is argued.

Are we convinced by such desperate arrogant acts of unreason and arbitrariness?

Or would more and more of us join ranks with the frustrated and the disempowered, to hanker even more loudly and determinedly for change, for reform, for ‘revolution' even, as have taken place elsewhere!?

As a concerned citizen, I have waited months, years, in the hope of some common sense prevailing, that the government might finally offer some olive branch of compromise on what is for the collective future good of the nation.

Wouldn't doing the honourable thing of joining together with our citizen's aspirations toward ushering in fairer electoral mechanisms and a refreshing transformed tomorrow, be a better win-win approach for all?

Alas, this wishful thinking is not to be.

BN has always touted that it has the rakyat's hopes and interests at heart, and that it would listen to its grouses and heartaches, that its actions and programmes are for the people.

Are they really? "People first, performance now, and not self-interests", have been loudly proclaimed by our PM, as he unleashed this now increasingly dubious and much maligned 1Malaysia slogan.

That slogan is now a shattered shibboleth, quite stillborn and smirked upon by detractors. Because we cannot see the genuine passion and action for the empty hollow talk!

Instead contrastingly, we see the unbridled prejudices and ethnic baiting rising to its highest tempo yet!

There appears to be that resolute steadfastness to stay the course of government knows best, of confrontational demonising of citizens' concerns and dogged power play and arrogance!

I am saddened that as we aspire towards a modern developed state, we seemed to have taken many retrogressive steps backward.

The authorities have, instead of ensuring wider public and democratic space and greater human development and empowerment, acted with draconian autocracy-clinging on to whatever power at its disposal and totally disregarding the national interests!!

I know that many if not most professionals and ordinary citizens are quite shocked and disgusted with the present state of affairs!

However, our usual apathy would make most people silently disgruntled, and most would not dare to be outspoken. Indeed, we have all become sadly disillusioned!

The past month or so has seen some intense debate and coffee-shop whispers as to the perceived machinations and excesses of the current authorities-my friends and patients ask why this is happening and whether there is a future for them, their families and their children.

They worry that there might be ‘trouble', some are quite fearful of ethnic or religious strife, yet many believe that some change for the better would be best for Malaysia, especially after the last March 8, 2008 elections.

We all love our country but we are shell-shocked that the ear-splitting noises of incessant discord and ethnic baiting and threats have been allowed to go on unabated and with such reckless impunity!

Ordinary citizens are becoming increasingly and totally flabbergasted as to the senseless government's actions and lopsided reactions these past few years.

As the date towards a people's rally for electoral reform approaches, the authorities' paranoia has escalated to shrill decibels of painful mindless noises of disingenuous half truths and unbelievable mendacity.

There is that mounting sense of hopelessness and seething anger, that this hitherto wonderful country of ours seems hell-bent on deteriorating into a failed despotic state.

Arbitrary and biased exploitation of the law rides roughshod over its increasingly incredulous and dissenting citizens, who are in rising numbers refusing to be cowed or intimidated by inane propaganda and downright lies and manipulations.

The remand detention of Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj and the other PSM leaders must rank as a senseless blow to the perception of law and order and sense of justice for ordinary Malaysians. We appear to be descending to the levels of other repressive regimes elsewhere.

For almost everyone of us who know Dr Michael Jeyakumar, a soft-spoken and caring doctor and MP, this must be the sickening icing of a rotten cake that the authorities has tried to serve to an unknowing rakyat!

If one's only crime is to serve the rakyat without fear or favour, and forsaking one's middle income status, for a just cause, then we would all be "socialists-communists"!

If only we have the courage and audacity to say so and act! Having socialist ideologies and living a life exemplary of advocacy and helping to enact change and betterment for the marginalised and the forgotten cannot be a crime!

If only more of us have the courage and the sacrifice to do as these leaders of PSM have done, the world would have been better for all the needy around the world.

But we are humans with self- and family interests constraining our less than altruistic nature... I am ashamed that I cannot be more forthcoming in doing all the wonderful things that these activists are doing selflessly!

How can they be a threat to our nation when they are at the forefront of caring and serving?

On behalf of fair-minded citizens of Malaysia, we urge the government and the police authorities to be magnanimous and let these people go-free them unconditionally!

It is arrogant cowardice of the highest order to hide behind a despised antiquarian law, to perhaps victimise the smallest political party of substance, just because the authorities can, to showcase as a crude example of political clout.

Such intimidation cannot be welcomed by any sane person or patriotic Malaysian!

Let common sense and humanity prevail! government of Malaysia, we call on you to do the righteous thing and elevate yourself toward a new trajectory of hope and justice for the future of all Malaysians!

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