I came across this well written article in The Sun last Friday. Thought it would be useful to share this on my blog so that many young minds would be opened up to the fact that this is Our Country and We definitely have a Say in what we want for Our Country.
where young views rule
It's all up to You Democracy is often protrayed as a robust, invunerable lion-like beast. It is self-healing, immortal and inevitable.
The truth is somewhat less sanguine, as the recent history of the United States shows. Only with constant vigilance can we maintain its health. And democracy is worth maintaining. Singapore appears to be a successful autocratic state, only if we refuse to take into account statistics that show over half of the young people there want to leave (as reported in a local paper). It's a poor country that has no place young people. And while this has often been associated with economis opportunities, the lack of freedom is the reason most frequently cited by the emigrants I've met.
Malaysia is at a crossroads. And the future of the country lies, as always, not in the hands of politicians, bureaucrats and businesspeople, but in the hands of all of us. It is up to us, as Malaysians, to decide the type of country we want to live in. We have to decide how and who we want to govern us. This could be, as we have seen some quarters doing, through the streets and through peaceful demonstrations. There is a power in this approach, but there are also problems. One of the few successful demonstrations of modern people power, the Phillipines revolution of the late '80s and the subsequent overthrow of Joseph Estrada, were only possible because the army refused to open fire on the masses. The same was true in Moscow as Glasnost came under attack.
There are other ways. But they require one common factor. That, we citizens, takes responsibilty for the direction that our country takes. It is not enough to hang our head in shame at the shenanigans of our politicians, and bemoan the farce that too often characterises our parliamentary proceedings (from lipstick and high heels to leaks and potty politice). We have to take responsibility for these things.
Parliament, down to its architecture, was designed to be an august House. The Dewan Negara is a formidable room. The outside of the building reaches to the sky, it aspires upwards. Instead, the proceedings inside the House seem to leave it aspiring to the gutter. This is my fault, as it is your fault. It is the fault of our parents and our friends- we have collectively alolowed this to happen. And we can stop it from happening.
The outrage at the state of our judiciary is a start. It needs to be extent to the other offices of government. We need to demand that our elected representatives stop giving us facile excuses for inaction. My favourite since March 2008 is that state-level feedom of information legislation would contradict the Federal-level Official Secrets Act. This is a whitewash for not introducing legislation that would mean the state governments can be held accountable. Yet the voters who put in these state governments on a platform of reform seem to have swallowed the excuses, like the unpalatable excuses offered by the state governments before them.
One way of addressing this is to go on the street. There is nothing wrong with a peaceful demonstration. It is protected by the Constitution, and is seen in most countries as an important plank of democracy. BUt in Malaysia, demonstrating has been criminalised. There are other ways to register dissent and dissatisfaction. The first is by incessantly protesting against actions you find unpalatable. Write letters to the MPs responsible, to newspapers. Phone in to TV and radio stations. Make your voice heard.
Second, take responsibility for the society around you. Form action groups and take community-based action. Make appointments to see your elected representatives. Turn yourself and your friends into a lobby group. Take responsibility- whether it's a group of parents trying to improve educational outcomes in your local schools, responsibility for the neighbourhood watch groups to help bring down crime, or resposibilty for the behaviour of your elected representatives. Even responsibility for the ethics of thye product ( from the newspaper you buy to the decision not to invest in companies that invest in environmentally polluting practices).
This is the only way that democracy is meaningful and the only way to keep it healthy and alive- to bring it home. Sonia thinks liberty and equality are the only real guarantors of security.