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The perils of democracy in Malaysia

LETTER | When stupidity and ignorance coupled with perceived supremacy induced by decades of indoctrination becomes the benchmark; harmony, tolerance, merits, rationality, righteousness (as understood by most rational people) are criminalised. On the other hand, corruption and treachery are accepted in the name of defending the majority’s “dignity”, whatever that connotes.

If ignorant people become the majority, and they misunderstood you, whether intentionally or not, you are the problem. Their misconception is the final arbiter of truth. You have to conform to their misconception.

If they think your very presence is an affront to their sensitivity, you must hide from them. If they think that is not enough, they may even lock you up or persecute you. That happened to the handicapped, homosexuals, socialists and Jews in Nazi Germany. Many of them still face discrimination in other parts of the world, including Malaysia.

The outcome of the coloured revolutions in N Africa and America’s failed attempt at installing democracy in the Middle East have taught us that democracy requires a sufficiently educated populace and an open society to thrive. Democracy does not require uniformity or homogeneity.

Despite centuries of trial and error, Western democracies are still a work in progress. Malaysia started off well enough after independence, having inherited a well-run bureaucracy, sufficiently educated professionals manning the bureaucracy and a democratic institution from the British.

But a significant portion of the population has been systematically dumbed down over several decades and their mindset indoctrinated with a pernicious dogma resistant to any open discussion, guilt or shame.

Over the years, many governmental institutions have been abused and perverted, from economic development, education, human rights, law enforcement to judiciary. The government machinery dominated by a single race becomes monolithic, stagnant, insular and inbred. The lawful and righteous are harassed while the criminals are feted and protected. Merits are punished, stupidity is hailed.

When a majority of the population is deliberately kept ignorant and dependent on largesse to survive, and at the same time told they are the supreme race on the land, democracy can be easily abused and perverted to oppress the minority. Minorities and foreigners are always the first scapegoat for all that ails a country.

Some leaders are already openly saying they don’t need the support of the minorities to run the country. There is enough mindless supporters to see them through elections. Even if they don’t say it openly, they see it as their ultimate goal. Cooperating with minorities is only a temporary solution. Reading between the lines, Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself expressed this very sentiment in the recently concluded Malay Dignity Congress.

The writing has been on the wall for decades, but the minority leaders have been reluctant to acknowledge this existential crisis, for fear of “spooking” the Malays. When it is convenient for them, the spectre of May 13 is invoked to keep the minorities in line. When confronted with the request to form a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to unearth the truth, they tell us to “move on” and “not dwell on the past”. Their version of the history is the final word.

Except for a lone wolf or two, all minority leaders still prefer to bury their heads in the sand. They are afraid to call a spade a spade. Hoping that their acquiescence (which has evolved to obsequiousness) can appease the majority and appeal to their magnanimity.

Alas, they can never be satiated. Give them an inch, they demand a foot; give them a foot, they demand a yard. Those the minorities struck a deal with are shifting the goalposts day-by-day. An argument can be made that the minorities bear some responsibilities for feeding this monster.

Business as usual is crumbling. The government’s vision is to “share” the economic pie. They have no plan or vision to create or enlarge the pie. They choose to normalise the entitlement mindset of the majority instead of teaching them to fish. Many GLCs like MAS are unprofitable and are kept afloat by bailouts.

Business model based on resource extraction and cheap labour/currency is either coming to an end or facing stiff competition, not to mention unnecessarily antagonising our customers, so they resort to “sharing” whatever that is already created.

As so many values and institutions have been bastardised, the minorities have nowhere to go for protection and to seek justice. Democracy is being used to implement the tyranny of the majority.

Rights will be taken away from you if you don’t defend it. Malay politicians understand this and are constantly “defending” their rights, but they interpret it to mean their right to ride roughshod over the minorities. When the majority decide you don’t deserve the right, what recourse do you have?

Democracy, like explosives, can be lethal in the hands of the unscrupulous.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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