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."  

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