The Nov 10 crowd marching to the palace is only the tip of the iceberg of public discontent towards an administration that has failed to listen to the people. Whatever their critics say, the truth is that it was a success. The rakyat have done their part, for the event, at least for the time being.
It is only the beginning, early days for the 'yellow revolution' to make an impact on the nation. Although opposition politicians were a part of the act, in essence, it was the people's demonstration, not a political ceramah .
Bersih, the 67-member coalition, behind the march speaks of the people's discontentment. If anything, the death knell for power abuse and corrupt governance has sounded. The people can be galvanised to act, be heard and seen more often. When any government no longer marches in tune with the aspirations of its people for good governance, it will inevitably get the marching orders from them.
Today the voices of dissent are not from vociferous student radicals, militant trade unionists, religious fanatics or what the establishment likes to decry as troublemakers, agitators, communists, disloyal, unpatriotic, ungrateful people and so on.
They are from a credible cross section of the populace, from Muslim politicians to Christian columnists, from opposition politicians to doctors overseas, from the ordinary man in the street to professors of higher learning, from ordinary moms and dads and so on. They are all responsible citizens and utterly upset. They are all baying for the political blood of those who so brazenly abuse their powers and ignore their pleas and plight.
Those who have so flagrantly insulted the people by abusing their power and frustrating justice at every turn deserve the people's displeasure. The latest call for Siva Subramaniam, Suhakam commissioner, to resign is justifiable if he did make inappropriate comments that undermined the independence of his role. It is improper for a human rights body to be condoning unconscionable police conduct.
It is typical of power abuse, when institutions and individuals that are supposed to serve the people are manipulated by the establishment. The people march because they do not want the country to suffer any more. They do not trust the Election Commission that has failed to ensure the integrity of the ballot box when complaints of phantom voters and electoral irregularities are unsatisfactorily resolved.
I say to the government; if there is nothing to hide and all is above board then prove it. Be open. Be accountable. Let all see how transparent you are. What have you got to hide? What have you got to lose? But if the opposite is true, then you will send out the police to stop those who dare challenge your authority. But don't forget, the authority given to you is for good not for evil. Beating peaceful demonstrators with powerful water cannons is not a righteous act by any definition. It is wrong.
The plethora of problems in the country that are the people's plight are well-documented, even in the government controlled media, from the loss of personal liberty to choose one's own religion (as in the highly-publicised Lina Joy case), to a former prime minister being unable to address his own political party and being the victim of an alleged political conspiracy. All these complaints add fuel to the fire and have culminated in the people's march of frustration.
What the King can do for the people is uncertain but like his subjects, his hands are tied even though he wields much symbolic power. The fact that he has received the memorandum is a tacit and helpful gesture of approval, a positive sign. Whereas a puppet symbol could have easily turned his back on the people. The voices of moral authority have emanated from the royal courts even though the courthouses have been overshadowed by scandals of judge-fixing, as the Lingam video exposes.
Some have said that it is unfair to involve the King whose power is symbolic and ceremonial. But kings and members of the royal family are also citizens of the nation with consciences. While in their official roles they have limits on their powers but there is no limit to what they can do in their own capacities. Their ceremonial roles may be prescribed by the Constitution but their private roles are no more different than yours and mine, only they carry more clout. Protocol or not, the King can still be morally influential.
So why should they not be able to exercise their democratic rights like everyone else? And why would anyone think that kings and queens do not want to protect their subjects in times of trouble or even defend the people with their lives? We only need to look at the British princes and note their willingness to risk life and limb in active combat, like Prince Andrew who fought in the Falklands. But in Malaysia, we are not talking about going to war but basic human and constitutional rights.
The battle for the will of the people is no longer confined to the national boundaries of the country. It is happening in cyberspace, in places abroad where Malaysians gather and the campaign and clamour for good governance will not stop until Malaysia gets the governance it rightfully deserves.
When the establishment misjudges the mood of the people and scornfully resort to Cold War tactics of intimidation, detention without trial, false charges, slander, police brutality and other negative measures, they will continue to lose the people's support. The ISA may scare many, but not everyone. Where there is injustice, there will be no silence.
Times have changed and the Malays have come of age. Apart from PAS, the traditional political enemies of the establishment, the leaders of dissent today are Malays who themselves have experienced the injustice of abuse. It was Malays who fed urine to Abdul Malek Hussin when he was a victim of the ISA. It was a Malay who beat up Anwar Ibrahim in prison. It is Malays who short-change their own people through acts of corruption and abuse.
It is the government's fault and folly in upsetting those who used to support it. There is no need to list their faults. It is well-known and are now an intrinsic part of Malaysian culture. They are their own worst enemy when they deprecate their own Constitution and country with provocative acts such as keris waving in the deception of unity and protecting all.
The battle lines are clearly drawn, not between Malays and non-Malays but between good and evil. Malaysians of all races and backgrounds, from workers to intellectuals, are now cooperating with one another in their campaign for good governance in the country. Their unity against bad governance and corruption is unprecedented and cannot be thwarted. In their peaceful protests they have acted responsibly and in time they will prevail. Good always wins over evil, we know, not only in Hollywood movies, but real life.
Malaysians are religious, even if outwardly so. It behooves us all to reflect in our sober moments whether treating our neighbours badly is not against the tenets of our faiths. The government needs to do some serious soul-searching if the ethos of dishonesty and corruption should have any part in its administration. Mahathir Mohamad calls Abdullah Ahamd Badawi's administration "rotten." All the top civil servants are embroiled in one form of scandal or another, from the police force to the judiciary. Is this the governance that honours God whom we profess in our Rukun Negara?
Do we raise our soiled hands in prayer? Or are our consciences so seared that we neither fear God nor man and act with arrogant impunity, subverting the flow of truth and justice in the country? Do we want a country of God-fearing, decent and diligent citizens? Or a nation of thieves, scoundrels and perjurers? What kind of country do we want?
To me that was what the march was about. They want good governance and the one that delivers it gets my vote. The people have appealed to the King because they have been snubbed by their government. But let us not forget to appeal to the true king in heaven who alone can thwart man's evil plans and give us justice because we know a higher official watches over our officials and hears our cries.