Thursday, April 11, 2013


When I was roped into CITIZEN THINK TANK, a so-called voter education initiative, way back in 2007, I was assured by the two founding members that it was NEUTRAL and NON-PARTISAN. CTT was supposed to provide information, create awareness and promote discussion among voters on the track record of the candidates in their constituencies. The objective was to choose the right representatives who can best serve their constituents. There were joint events and road shows with ALL BLOGs, an association of social political bloggers whose members include Raja Petra Kamaruddin (RPK), Ahiruddin Attan (Rocky), Nuraina Samad, Big Dog, Brick and Kickdefella.
[I withdrew from the CTT pro-tem committee with another female member when we felt that the guys' mindset on gender roles was rather Jurassic. One of the founders later quit his job at a hi-tech corp to join Malaysiakini and mock the word 'Allah' by posting 'sightings' on strange surfaces such as beef patties on his FB wall. So much for non-partisanship and sensitivity to Muslims' feelings.]
Jadual taklimat PEMANTAU – updated 11 April 2013
Yellow for Monarchy or Mayhem? 
Then Wong Chin Huat, a former student from UM, came into the picture with BERSIH. I was impressed by his supposedly genuine demands for a FREE and FAIR election. Again, I was assured that it was INDEPENDENT and NON-PARTISAN. However, I was glad I didn't join the BERSIH 1.0 demonstrators who marched to the gates of the Istana Negara. The event was hijacked by Anwar Ibrahim who rode in on a big bike to the front line. At that time, I was told that BERSIH chose yellow to show its support for the King since 'the rakyat' was disenchanted with the government of the day.
The colour yellow must have stood for something other than the Monarchy when Ambiga Sreenivasan (former President of Bar Council) and A Samad Said (National Poet Laureate) led the emboldened protestors of BERSIH 2.0 towards Dataran Merdeka. Once again it was hijacked by Anwar Ibrahim, and Azmin Ali, who gave instructions to the mob to cross the barricades. What happened after was pandemonium.
Now, even the seemingly sane Harris Ibrahim with his People's Parliament in 2007 has mutated into Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM), Asal Bukan UMNO (ABU), SKUAD ABU and TAHAN, a disgruntled citizen vigilante group deployed to stop voters suspected of being foreigners from exercising their rights.
And the latest 'voter education group' in town is TINDAK, which was alleged by Tunku Aziz of Transparency International (TI) to cause disruptions at the polling stations.
Well, I'm just glad that I pulled out of the farce before I was dragged into the abyss of lunacy.
Here are two links for first time voters who would like to know more about genuine electoral/voter education programs and the pitfalls of having citizen vigilante groups swarming the polling venues.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dissent for the sake of dissenting?

Front page report of the Oppositions' Victory in the 12th General Elections in 2008
Thomas Jefferson, one of the presidents and Founding Fathers of the USA, said:
"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism".
My journey as a 'dissenter' began when I was an impressionable pre-U student in the psychedelic '70s. My late mother used to rent out a room and provide catering service to UM students, some of whom were involved in student demonstrations and subsequently expelled. I was spellbound by their courage and sacrifice for the plight of the landless peasants, fishermen and other proletariats.
This spark was reignited when I was initiated to 'Critical Studies' at UW-Madison in the late '80s and early '90s. It was only natural to gravitate towards the community of local Critical Scholars when I returned home. To support mainstream positivist and capitalistic ethos would mean betraying the struggle for a more meaningful egalitarian and utopian alternative. In the case of communication/media studies, which was my field, it would translate into participatory communication research which empowers the subjects and small-scale, independent media enterprises which reflect a wide range of perspectives.    
The emergence of alternative news portals and 'so-po' blogs in the new millenium should have been God's Gift to critical scholars who had protested against the monopoly of mega media conglomerates, "the  mouthpieces of greedy corporations and military-industrial complex".
However, very few of the practitioners of the new media are able to remain independent and neutral. Many styled themselves as new versions of the Partisan Press, either due to political conviction or expediency. Even those who claim to be the 'Voice of the People/Rakyat' and advocating 'Change' turned out to be  critics of UMNO and supporters of PR. Within the rhetoric of 'the two-party system', there's hardly space for independent viewpoints.
The local political arena is still dominated by parties and their personalities, instead of issues and causes. The ideals of educating and raising the political awareness of citizens and voters seem to be lost by the wayside. With paid cyber troopers and hacks dominating the terrain, even unpaid supporters, sympathisers and by-standers tend to over-indulge in mindless, sycophantic adulations of the parties and their leaders. What is more disturbing is the fact that some local politicians seek foreign (read American and Australian) endorsement and orchestrate external intrusions.
There appears to be an absence of a post-colonial consciousness and an abandonment of post-Merdeka, Non-Align Standpoint. Power Struggle has replaced Class Struggle. The interpretation of 'New Politics' is NOT about empowering the Working Class, the Under Class or the Disenfranchised. Rather it's blatant contempt for the Poor, Rural, non-English Educated, 'Coloured' masses, in other words the 'Low Class' constituents.
It would be naive to ignore the Reality of Post-Cold War, Post-911 US and other adversaries' geo-political strategic mapping. National Sovereignty, Security, Safety, Political Stability and continuous Delivery of Public Goods (i.e. affordable housing, good roads, schools, hospitals, electricity, water, scholarships, loans, aids and incentives, etc.) should be on TOP of the voters' minds, young or old, when they cast their ballots in the coming 13th GE.                        
To conclude,
"Dissent for the sake of dissenting is NOT patriotic. It isn't dissent that makes it patriotic. It's the REASON for the dissent."