COMMENT I congratulate Malaysiakini for winning another award confirming it as the people's choice for professional and credible media in a place of manipulated news, censorship and outright lies.
The win serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle of Malaysians against the political tyranny and moral lapse of a nation, and its leadership cast adrift.
Malaysiakini is exceptional because it has not followed the compliant media pack in vending official propaganda (albeit it now carries more government news than before) but stuck to the bold publication of the truth that the power stewards of the country don't want people to know.
It is what an independent and responsible newspaper does but few do in Malaysia. The truth is toxic to a corrupt and culpable government so where there is media censorship be sure that someone has something to hide from the people. And those that publish boldly will be persecuted.
A corrupt government will abuse its power and victimise those who tell the truth and expose its crooked ways and Malaysiakini's journalists and writers are among many intrepid and patriotic Malaysians at the forefront in facing this challenge.
In a place where telling the truth is punishable, the suspended The Edge publications and Malaysiakini , among a handful of others, play indispensable roles in saving the nation lost in a tailspin of official lying. When truth-tellers are harshly punished then one knows tyranny prevails, and where there is tyranny the human spirit is stirred to oppose it.
Malaysiakini gives vent to the spirit of the nation. Its forum for unadulterated news and views tell of the plight of the people and galvanise public opinion against wrongdoings and abuse by the stewards of power. It is what one expects to see in intrepid journalism.
Malaysiakini is the people's collective voice for constructive change. Why it is officially ostracised by a government that has promised reform and boasts of making the nation “the world's best democracy” is indeed baffling, unless like so many of the promises they were made to be broken.
Malaysiakini's survival redeems the nation's otherwise lost democratic credentials. Without uncensored and unconstrained media and without a Malaysiakini - a credible media organisation - there is no democracy.
And the state of tyranny is complete.
Walk for justice
Malaysiakini is among the few media lights glimmering in a dark place. No thanks to those who are still hell-bent in silencing it. More and more citizens realise they are dealing with leaders who are 'wolves in sheep's clothing'.
But who is afraid of the big bad wolf today?
Bersih 4 is not.
And those who oppose Bersih 4 have no respect for the rule of law. They are afraid of the people. They are afraid of fair elections. They are even afraid of their own shadow.
They who oppose truth and Bersih 4 want to perpetuate a government that is elected not by the people but by a flawed electoral system.
The people are prepared to walk for justice while agent provocateurs threaten to hijack the peaceful event. But Bersih 4 will prevail for it is the will of the people. Woe to those who oppose the will of the people.
The tide of change has risen and when a former long-time public servant like Malaysiakini columnist Dr KJ John, unabashedly declares his stand with Bersih 4 and publicly states his intention to walk his talk on free and fair elections, it is time also for everyone to stand up for your nation.
“I am proud of you,” I replied to a friend's email when this 40-something mother of two teenage girls, an ordinary Malaysian with no political axe to grind or political ambitions, told me she will be counted among those taking to the streets in the Bersih 4 walk.
What prompts ordinary Malaysians to come out and support Bersih 4?
It is the human spirit. It is the earnest desire to save their country from going to the dogs. It is time to echo “enough is enough” before things get worse.
A tyrant may oppress for a time. But in time the people will throw caution to the wind and stand up against the tyranny. The human spirit against repressiveness cannot be destroyed. And fear can no longer keep a people from overcoming a wicked and unjust situation and the architect of their plight.
We all love Malaysia
Democracy in Malaysia is a sham if the flaws in the electoral system are allowed to perpetuate. For a long time Malaysians have been working peacefully and patiently with the government to seek electoral reform. But to no avail.
Groups such as Tindak have painstakingly produced convincing solid evidence of serious electoral anomalies pinpointing the flaws. For elections to be held in light of the glaring flaws including heavy gerrymandering and malapportionment is to defraud the people.
GE13 produced a tainted result. Is a government that lost the popular vote a government of the people when it is not by the people? Is it a fair electoral system that produces a skewed result?
The electoral system has failed the people and must be changed before another election robs the people of the government they want.
Do the people want a government they can elect into power or a government that ensures the flawed electoral system keeps them in power?
Bersih 4, Malaysiakini and more and more Malaysians at home and abroad, and even concerned foreigners such as Malaysiakini columnist Dean Johns, and former American ambassador to Malaysia John Malott, who care enough to participate in the debate, who share the same earnest desire to see Malaysia prosper under good governance, all want change for the better.
They all love Malaysia.
It takes courage to talk. It takes conviction to walk the talk. And when the people walk and talk together, their enemy isn't half as strong as they think. When the people show their courage and conviction, they will overcome every obstacle.
It is time to 'Bersih'.
STEVE OH is the author of the novel ‘Tiger King of the Golden Jungle’ and composer of the musical of the same title. He believes in good governance and morally upright leaders.