Happy Independence Day Malaysia.I am not the first and definitely wonâ€™t be the last to suggest that suppression of free speech will not work. History has shown that time and again, but those in power in Malaysia apparently havenâ€™t seen the light.
Those days when all a repressive and paranoid government had to do to ensure its own security was control the media are over.
In case anyone in Malaysiaâ€™s administration was sleeping during class, the internet has changed all that.
So why not take a different tack or approach? How about walking the walk? And not just talking the talk? Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi needs to put his money where his mouth is.
His predecessors have dangled the proverbial carrot called the promise to end NEP in front of non-Malays long enough. Time to get serious.
First off, the powers-that-be need to realize that prosperity has many unintended consequences.
Just as the Proton Saga after being made cheap and affordable, created the horrendous traffic congestion in many Malaysian cities, prosperity or an elevated standard of living has created Malaysians who can see past themselves for a change.
Now no longer just pre-occupied with just making ends meet or â€œcari makanâ€, they want to participate in their own destiny. They are questioning if there is a better way to do things.
This is no different than a child who has grown up after the necessary nurturing from its parents. Once this maturity sets in, there is no going back. This new â€œadultâ€ will start to question and think for itself because it has become aware and is able to think beyond its own needs. Only natural.
So the leaders in Malaysia are short-sighted. Understandable. The powers-that-be couldnâ€™t foresee and prepare for such an eventualities. How could they? They had not been down this road. But herein lies part of the problem:
Ignorance coupled with an ego to match and a refusal to learn from the mistakes of other countries compounds Malaysian rulerâ€™s problems.
The governmentâ€™s latest attempts to quell the tide of anti-administrationâ€™s rhetoric threatening to take action against bloggers will not be successful. The school yard bully has met its match this time. It canâ€™t possibly win.
If China, arguably one of the most oppressive governments, is not up to the task of controlling the flow of information on the internet, how does Malaysia stand a chance?
Those days when the masses got all their news from mainstream media or the â€œloudspeakers of the governmentâ€ are over. The fallout as a result of how the New Straits Times handled the Anwar case clearly illustrates a loss in faith in mainstream media.
Since there is no way the Malaysian government can control the internet or turn it off completely nor monitor it successfully, it is time for a reality check.
No, I take it back. There is a way. Turn off the internet completely and isolate Malaysia from the rest of the world. One of our neighbors to the north, Burma, has done that. But is that a palatable solution?
It would create a whole set of problems probably worse than this climate of dissension. Read what Stan Sesser, a former staff writer for The New Yorker covering Southeast Asia, has to say in his article.
So on this day, Malaysiaâ€™s 50th year of independence from the British, I wish it â€œHappy Birthdayâ€ but in order that there be many many more, do the right thing and really put an end to NEP at the same time keep Malaysia secular as it is written in the Constitution.Giving in to the movement that wants to make Malaysia a â€œIslamic stateâ€ where the Syariah courts rule over everyone, may buy those in power time, but in the end, foreign investors will flee when they see how the legal system doesnâ€™t rule fairly especially for non-Malays and Muslim women.
Watch the report by Australian journalist Helen Vatsikopoulos. The piece highlights the practice of claiming bodies of deceased non-Malays by Muslims with the intent of showing that the Muslim way is supreme in the land.
What is horrifying is that those in power know this is happening yet do not intervene. In order words, the non-Malay races have no rights whatsoever.
It is ironic that the Prime Ministerâ€™s message on this day is â€œDefend our Prosperity.â€
The real threat comes not from people who speak the truth but from those who arenâ€™t able to think for themselves.
People who refuse to change and adapt but blindly follow without questioning.
The silver lining to all this is that more and more Malays like Amin Idris and especially Malay women, who have become so disenfranchised by the unfair rulings of the Syariah Courts are seeing this and coming into the light.
Why else is the deputy Prime Minister recently announce a more liberal policy of maternity leave? They are feeling the heat.
There are even a handful of very brave outspoken Malays who have been educated in the West who are working to open the eyes of their Muslim brethren, doing so at very great risk to to their own safety. Those in power would have you think that itâ€™s a racial issue.
Itâ€™s their greed and their pitting of one race against another thatâ€™s causing a lot of the countryâ€™s problems. Not the bloggers. You know who the credible ones are.