Sunday, February 15, 2009

Public perception of the police wasn't got overnight

Har Wai Mun | Feb 13, 09 1:10pm

All of a sudden, issues such as race, corruption and Malaysian police brutality are making headlines. Yet, these issues did not come from nowhere or spring up overnight.

‘Malay’, ‘Chinese’ and ‘Indian’ are supposed to be a neutral adjectives to describe the origin of someone just like ‘thin’ and ‘fat’.

However, if these adjectives are institutionalised in an unfair manner over a long period of time, then it could become a big issue.

It will be interesting to imagine having a national policy that gives an advantage to overweight people but discriminate against skinny people. What will happen after one day? One year? Fifty years?

Let’s continue to imagine. After fifty years, some skinny people may not tolerate it anymore and get angry and start to criticise that policy. Should we blame them? Should we stop them? Jail them for the sake of maintaining harmony?

Applying the same analysis to a perception of the police force, their negative image did not develop overnight and out of nothing. Nevertheless, they should not be blamed completely too.

A continuous suppression of freedom of speech with the police as enforcers naturally puts them in bad faith with the public. Misusing the police force as a political tool is another factor.

In a bi-directional causality effect, these two factors in turn over-empower the police, hence providing breeding ground for misuse of power.

Nonetheless, it needs plenty of repeat cases of police mischief over a long period of time to enable a bad perception to develop. The reverse is true to change a perception from bad to good.

Therefore, the police force should wake up from its state of denial and be brave enough to confront reality. Particularly that related to the A Kugan case. They should be doing as their slogan saying: ‘Firm, Fair and Courteous’.

Please be firm in identifying and taking action against the responsible person(s) involved in Kugan’s death. Please be fair, which includes being transparent and declining any government intervention in this case.

Hence, the home minister’s outcry is not welcome; particularly his ‘Don't see criminals as heroes’ statement. I hope that the police and minister understand that nobody is a ‘criminal’ until having being found guilty by the courts.

Lastly, please show courtesy to the public whom you should protect with your integrity. Again, please realise that any ‘good’ or ‘demonic’ perception on anybody did not come from nowhere or just overnight.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

PR careless but BN beyond repair

Har Wai Mun | Feb 10, 09 6:51pm

First of all, the Sultan of Perak’s decision against a snap state election is very disappointing. Equally disappointing is Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) over-enthusiasm to overthrow the Barisan Nasional (BN) government that has now backfired.

Meanwhile, BN seems continuously trying to prove that it is beyond repair.

PR’s surprise victories in the March 2008 election implied ad hoc readiness to form state governments. Therefore, their over-enthusiasm to wrest further power from BN added both extra pressure and further exposure to fatal carelessness as like in the Perak saga.

In the midst of attracting BN assembly persons to defect, they overlooked the fact that there were internal dissatisfaction and weaknesses, therefore giving a chance for BN to pounce.

As a result, PR, particularly PKR and DAP, lost not only their majority in Perak but the parties’ integrity among voters.

Anwar Ibrahim and other leaders of PR should have realised that some of their members of Parliament or state assembly persons are not up to the mark in terms of loyalty, political maturity and integrity.

Interesting to say, PR could also have won some constituencies by putting monkeys as candidates. On the one hand, ‘monkey’ representatives are a source of future trouble.

On the other hand, this implies that citizens are actually voting for the party, not the candidate. Hence, party-hoppers should resign and stand for fresh elections.

Just ask ourselves two simple questions: ‘What is the full name of our Yang Berhormat?’ and ‘Which party won our constituency?’

If the later is easier to answer, then party-hoppers are clearly traitors to voters while BN ‘government’ in Perak is morally unjustifiable. Also, an anti-hopping law seems more urgent and appropriate than before.

Political development in Malaysia could be better if Malaysians (from politicians to the ordinary people) become more political conscious and mature. Political maturity enables voters to be able to differentiate between political rhetoric and fact.

Thus, Malaysians voters would not be easily brainwashed by the rhetoric of fear and the ‘bribing’ by election ‘goodies’. Malaysians should not buy any ‘information’ blindly as the mainstream media could be a tool of political propaganda.

Nevertheless, the long term success of PR could depend on them upholding their struggle towards high integrity, fairness and competency as well as politically educating Malaysians.

This is preferred rather than following BN’s unethical approach to gain power by defections.

In addition, putting efforts into strengthening their services to society could be their better choice for a progressive path towards Putrajaya.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

'Doctor' needed to detoxify 'political worms'

Har Wai Mun | Feb 5, 09 4:33pm


Despite being the most influential political ideology in the world, democracy is not perfect. Hence, it is subjected to exploitation by ‘political worms’. Once its shield of integrity is broken, democracy would start to rot aided by those ‘worms’.

This unwanted scenario could be what has been happening in Perak. Not even a year ago on March 8, 2008, voters chose their representatives to parliament and the state assembly.

Unknown to them, they were not fulfilling their role to uphold democracy but were merely ‘officiating’ a political game between two camps of ‘political worms’.

After the ‘official opening ceremony’ ended, the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) camp was awarded a total of 31 ‘chess pieces’ while Barisan Nasional (BN) camp was surprisingly awarded three pieces less on the ‘Perak chessboard’.

Then, the game begin with both chess masters (‘worm-masters’?) playing mind games to win over chess pieces from the other camp. The voters were merely spectators!

So is democracy still alive in this country? Could be, but it is fast rotting to death. In the process, we witness all sort of lame reasons given to justify a switching (and rejoining) of camps.

The Bota ‘chess piece’s’ ‘long and serious’ consideration to hop over to the PR camp seems less serious considering his reverse process to rejoin BN. The issue of money politics was brought up.

Threats and treats were rumored. Resignation letters were countered with denial letters. The Election Commission’s decision was disputed and the matter could even end up in court.

Thus, is democracy still alive? Perhaps, but that depends on what ‘medicine’ is given to detoxify those ‘political worms’. It is certainly not an easy task and thus a truly qualified doctor (more precisely, a ‘savior’) is needed, of which the Sultan of Perak is one.

Yet, before official ‘medicine’ is prescribed, three major opinions have been voiced out. Some believe that having by-elections in both Behrang and Changkat Jering is the best medicine but some claim a smooth transition to BN rule is better.

Meanwhile, others (including me as a voter in a Perak constituency) prefer snap state elections as the medicine.

Only then can the power of voters be restored from being merely ‘spectators’ of a chess game to being the deciders of our own state assembly representatives.

Democracy should empower the people through the electoral process - not empower the ‘political worms’ through a chess game. Let’s hope democracy has not rotted to death in the country yet.