Change must come but not with violence

A few days ago, I read an article by Liew Chin Tong, the MP for Bukit Bendera, entitled “The Last Mile” (The Rocket, July 2, 2012).

In that article, Chin Tong recalls how on July 2, 1997, the foundations for the beginning of the end of Malaysia’s ancient régime was unconsciously laid – the destabilisation of regional currencies and subsequently economies – as well as the national political maelstrom that followed soon after – marked a tectonic shift in the progression of our national narrative.

Today, after a long and arduous journey of 15 years where Malaysians had to endure everything from sodomy charges to submarine scandals, change has irrefutably and more importantly irreversibly arrived at the doorsteps of Putrajaya.

And the ancien régime is afraid. Very afraid.

Numerous analysts and writers have presented their prognoses of GE13: 1) outright victory for Barisan Nasional; 2) slim victory for Barisan Nasional; 3) hung parliament; 4) slim victory for Pakatan Rakyat; 5) outright victory for Pakatan Rakyat.

Some postulate that BN will be the victors of the upcoming general election, but Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak may not survive the internal tribulations of Umno if the result is not far better than former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s 2008 showing.

Some suggest that the internal machinations of Umno may see Najib’s attempts being sabotaged.

Indeed, when we look at how the police unleashed their unholy fury on the journalists and attendees of Bersih 3.0, and when we see BN Backbenchers like Datuk Mohd Aziz (MP for Sri Gading) asking if Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan should be hanged, and when we see even the deputy prime minister saying that he is a “Malay first, and a Malaysian second” which some have read as a challenge to Najib’s 1Malaysia concept, such a proposal is not hard to imagine.

But I think we are not spending enough effort and time to collectively imagine what the days following GE13 will be like.

If power changes hands at the federal level, what immediate steps should the rakyat take to ensure peace and calm? Or if power does not change hands, for whatever reason(s), what is the rakyat’s course of action?

Or, if status quo is maintained… what then?

To me, whatever the outcome, as Malaysians, we must maintain civility and uphold the principles of non-violent efforts for change. This is paramount.

For while we seek change, and change must come, violence is never the answer.

Beyond the first few days, and should change take place, I believe we must lay bare the realities of governing a post-BN federal government.

The question of priorities of our goals and aims – the “low-hanging fruits” as has been discussed in some circles – must be presented and discussed: Should we aim to balance the budget quickly? Should we immediately repeal the PPPA, SOSMA, 114A?

What about the composition of Dewan Negara? How should we go about retraining and re-deploying police personnel to more effectively combat crime?

Is decentralisation of federal power immediately a realisable goal?

Equally important is the question of “amnesty” and the “sins of the past”.

What methods and means should we employ to ascertain the level of culpability? How will we practicably recover national assets?

At what point must we stop, forgive, and let go?

Now, more than ever, Malaysia needs to dream again. But it is not a somnambulant dream we need, where we dream and walk with eyes closed, unaware.

Instead, now, more than ever, we need to dream with open eyes.

And to see that a better Malaysia is finally come.

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