Friday, December 3

Black 505 rallies will not resolve political imbroglio

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GUESS what? I think that there are many Sarawakians who are keen to attend the public rallies and street protests being held in the peninsula.

That’s the feeling I get when friends from Kuching started asking for updates on the rallies, particularly the ‘Big One’ scheduled for June 15 in Kuala Lumpur.

I can only guess why. Perhaps politics in Sarawak has gotten boring after the May 5 elections. Politicians in the state have more or less recovered from the GE 13 fever and have returned to work.

There is also very little political fireworks in the state. All’s well on the eastern front, we can say. The opposition in Sarawak is relatively tame compared to their counterparts in the peninsula.

There are also no Black 505 rallies planned for Sarawak so far. Even if such events are held in the state, I doubt the crowds will be there.

While Bersih rallies used to attract 100,000 to 200,000 people in the streets of Kuala Lumpur, only a few hundred turned up in Kuching for similar events in the past.

Sarawakians are just not into street protests and demonstrations. But there are those who are more than willing to participate if there is already a big crowd.

I think I’m not way off in describing the majority of Sarawakians as the ‘join-in-the-crowd’ type. They will never take the lead.

If there is only a small group of 10 or 20 people, they will never dare to tag along. They are the ‘kiasi’ type – the ‘play safe’ species who are worried about getting into trouble, even when they know that they are not breaking the law.

Why? Am I insulting Sarawakians? No, I’m also a Sarawakian and I’m merely stating the truth about my own kind after years of observation. Unlike the Singaporeans who are ‘kiasu’, Sarawakians are really ‘kiasi’.

Okay, I’m prepared to accept a slap from those who feel offended but I maintain that the majority of Sarawakians are ‘kiasi’.

Aha, I’m not sure whether my Kuching friends who have booked their flights to attend the June 15 Black 505 rally in Kuala Lumpur would be prepared to join a similar event in Kuching if there is no crowd. That’s how it is with us, ‘kiasi’ Sarawakians. There I go again.

But hey, for once I have to declare aloud that as far as the current post May 5 public rallies go, I’m actually proud that my fellow Sarawakians are ‘kiasi’ and may be reluctant to take part.

My biggest question is this – why should we partake in such rallies when we are not sure if they will resolve anything? Will the rallies help resolve the current political impasse in the country? Honestly, I doubt it.

The first Black 505 rally on May 8 was organised to garner people’s power not to recognise the election results because of the alleged widespread fraud.

Later, the objectives became less clear and turned murkier with internal Pakatan differences over the staging of the rallies and the involvement of NGOs. Some senior Pakatan leaders even questioned Anwar’s decision to hold the rallies and were conspicuously absent from the events.

Can the rallies bring about a re-election in the seats under dispute? No.

Will the rallies be able to sack the Election Commission chairman and his team? No.

I can agree that that the electoral process in the country could be tainted. I’m all for Bersih’s mission for free and fair elections as we all should be.

I can also agree that the current batch running the show in EC must be replaced by professionals and independent personalities.

But the public protests cannot resolve such grievances. At best, they will keep the issues alive.

Can the rallies overturn the first past the post system that has been practised since independence and recognise the popular votes secured by Pakatan? No.

Can the rallies install Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister? No.

Are they held because Pakatan Rakyat does not recognise the current BN government? Not sure. Why? Pakatan MPs are also willing to take their oath of office later this month. How can they recognise their own victory and not those of the BN legislators?

Are the rallies meant to topple the government? Some NGOs taking part say that’s part of the plan while Pakatan says no. So which is which?

I beg to differ with PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli’s statement that public rallies are needed because it is the “only language” that the BN government understands.

“BN does not respond to intellectual arguments. The same applies to the EC. The only language they understand is the people’s power, which is manifested through the huge rallies,” said Rafizi, in an interview with a news portal.

I’m somewhat disturbed that a young, intelligent man such as Rafizi should think that public rallies are able to resolve political problems.

I have this poser and I need an answer. Assuming that Pakatan is able to topple the BN government via street protests, wouldn’t the leaders and supporters of BN retaliate in the same manner?

So where do we go from there? In time to come, we will become a people and a nation who live by the laws of the streets. Is that what we, Malaysians, want?

So what do I, as a Malaysian, want? I want the politicians whom we had elected to public office from both sides to get down to work. They have already wasted one whole month (since May 6) squabbling and bickering.

In case we have forgotten, these politicians have been paid one month’s salary by us, taxpayers, for doing nothing except to quarrel among themselves over the past month. What?

A lot could be achieved in one month if they had focused their energy on the nation-building process.

I expect Najib Razak and Anwar Ibrahim, whom I believe have well-meaning plans for the country, to start the process of national healing.

As the two political leaders who matter most in the country today, it is their duty and responsibility to restore national understanding and nurture national unity among a people and nation that have been deeply divided.

Sceptics and pessimists will quickly reject the notion that Najib and Anwar will work together in a Barisan-Pakatan unity government but the dreamer in me wants to believe that will happen one day.

Politics remains the art of the possible. It takes great humility and courage for the duo to come together but if they exert the politics of conscience and put aside the politics of pride and ego, they might just be able to see the light. Meantime, if my friends come over to KL on June 15, I may suggest a trip up Fraser’s Hill instead of listening to politicians badmouthing others and running them down at the top of their lungs. What else is new?

I think I’ve really had an overdose of politics of late. I don’t mind being labelled a ‘kiasi’ Sarawakian for now.

Well, if you haven’t had enough, join the rally by all means. Don’t let me stop you.

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