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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Beginning

A New Beginning

Political analysis is useful for providing the insights that flow from the more rounded appreciation of context such analysis allows for. Without context the significance of specific action will elude us. For instance, a statement by a politician could mean one thing in isolation but mean something completely different when considered against a backdrop of political intrigue. Anwar Ibrahim saying that he has six defectors from the Barisan Nasional is in itself suggestive of nothing more than an erosion of political support for the BN. However, when viewed against all else that Anwar Ibrahim has been involved in these past six months, the statement potentially takes on added resonance.

Post March-8th, there has been a sharp increase of political analysis on the Malaysian socio-political scene. The alternative media and blogs provide a veritable feast of information on a daily basis on a diverse range of subjects in the field. This has been a good thing for in setting out context, Malaysians have been more able to appreciate the many other ways of looking at things. They have also been able to see that free expression is something that does not harm our society as much as it does the politicians who hide their deficiencies behind such fears. Freer access to a range of diverse opinion has allowed for a maturing of the viewpoint of the Malaysian on the street.

There is however a downside, the root of which lies in the self-perception of the analyst that he and what he says is important. In their enthusiasm, analysts sometimes tend to forget that their analysis is not so much about their being able to do so but rather the truth of a given matter.

In an interview in 1993, the late Edward Said reflected that his meditations on politics and life had “always been a matter of exploration, of self-criticism and constant change in trying to surprise myself as well as my readers.” His reflection was prompted by a sense that public intellectuals tended to allow themselves to become “prisoners of their own language” and to be more concerned with “producing more work in fidelity to what they’d done before” at the expense of a truer perspective.

A noteworthy observation, it cautions against the very thing that seems to have occurred as the state of play between the BN and the Pakatan Rakyat intensifies. Analysis in these heightened times could be likened in many ways to commentary on a football league cup with many commentators having picked their side. Governance is however not about picking a side and sadly, more has been obscured than revealed by the parade of viewpoints and assessments.

In the run-up to the Kuala Trengganu by-election and its aftermath, we have been told what it all means for the BN, Abdullah Badawi, Najib Razak, the Pakatan Rakyat and Anwar Ibrahim. There are permutations upon permutations. We are asked to consider whether there was vote rigging, whether it is Abdullah Badawi that the people rejected or Najib or even the BN, whether it was the Chinese vote that swung the result or whether, as the MCA claims, the Chinese remained loyal to the MCA. We are told so many things in one form or the other, that in the end we are told very little.

For all this, nothing has been made clear and the question uppermost in mind is whether it really matters at all anymore who does what and how.

Whatever the spin or counter-spin, it is glaringly apparent that things are not as they should be in this country. Just as it is obvious that things should have been far better and could have been. It would not be incorrect to say that there are Malaysians who feel that they have come to be held hostage by an administration that is more concerned with protecting its own interests than those of the nation.

The state of flux points to many Malaysians having woken up to the fact. They want change in the most fundamental of ways: independence from a mindset that has left them colonized by an elite for its own benefit.

They are not fastidious as to who it is that becomes the Prime Minister of this country or who it is that forms the government. All they want is a government made up of men and women who believe in the ideals that the founders of this nation thought were a solid basis for a glorious future for all Malaysians. They want those men and women to believe in these ideals enough to get on with what needs to be done as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. They want the respect that each and every one of them is entitled to as a citizen.

In one of the several speeches that President Barack Obama gave on his historic journey into Washington for his inauguration, he said: “What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives.”

It is the same for us. We are in search of a new Malaysia. To find it, we must embrace the possibilities. To do that, our minds and hearts need to be liberated.

It is time for a new beginning.

(Malay Mail; 20th January 2009)



Unknown said...

Dear Malik,

Even after our much fought March 08 Election, things are still not as they should be.

Yes, it is understood that the road to greatness is expected to be long and winding; but we clearly lack the critically needed freshness in the air that we breathe.

What we are seeing and experiencing are just old politics, albeit, in newer scripts.

Even if we were to look at the pinnacle of both movements, we could see a soon-to-be leader muchly tainted with too many wrongdoings; equally on the other side, standing tall a person who were the king of pink forms during his heydays.

While we move towards the betterment of our lives, let us not forget that we the people are that real agent of change. We actually decide what is best for us.

We could actually create a platform that could be accepted as the best option for all Malaysian.

Let us not make the usual mistakes of empowering the wrong icon.

Our minds and hearts need to be liberated from the wrong believe that the agent is bigger than the movement.

Then only we could earned the respect that each of us deserved as a citizen.

It is definitely not too late for us to refocus.

Starmandala said...

Most lyrically put, Imtiaz! Barack seems to have had a positive influence on you :-)

Anonymous said...


Among golfers there is this:"Too much analysis leads to paralysis!".
But it is well known that golfers tend to find all sorts of excuses for their wayward game rather than turn to the professional for advise!

Yes we are at a point of of inflexion in our country. s sort of watershed. People have realised that the real power lies in their single/one vote. The rivers and the floods are from these little streams. While there can be many tiny streams and commentaries, the major rivers and flows are and should clearly discernable.

I agree that people will not be too fastidious about who should be the PM. The shift in trends clearly says they want a responsible and responsive governance, be it PR or BN. BN is at the receiving end because it is in shocka dn in a state of denial. the trauma is too strong for BN to vercome. Two of the original main components have been for all intent and purposes wiped out and my view is they will not be able to come back. Or if they can, it take years.

UMNO is different. It is as if it is intertwined with the government machinery. Take a walk around at the government institutions and departmments. they are almost like UMNO brancches. That is why they do not want to let go.

My main worry is that of the armed forces, the police has been in the msot visible and forceful in caryying out the orders of the current UMNO elite. It may be that the other forces are more professional. I pray it remains that way! We need to educate the police to remain neutral and that is going to be the biggest dilemna for the PR or any opposition. If the facts surrounding the ISA, the peaceful demonstrations and the vigils are anything to go by, it will be a tough struggle. But change we must, as Obama has stated. I sometimes think that God has therown in the curved ball of economics to tell the greedy, the corrupt and the powerful, it is time to change.

Pratamad said...

The hopeful thing is the emergence of a people that is less vulnerable to manipulation by its political master, which is observed in 51 years of our nationhood. A people that realises its capability to analyse and decide on its own. Ironically, only 51 years after our Merdeka. Hence your theme is very apt: a new beginning, of re-empowering and liberation of our people.

Echoing Anonymous 1:17:00, BN seems to be at the receiving end of all this because it is surprisingly so deaf to the call. But Msia is lucky to have Mar 8, Aug 26 and Jan 17 in succession. No one can now say the wake-up call is not loud enough, unless that person is totally deaf.

And, partly in response to Damansara, the old politics in the form of BN probably persists (how the Chinese voters in KT were threatened, etc.), but the new politics in the form of PR, even in such a short lifespan, is demonstrating its willingness to learn and innovate as a political force for the people. Now, that is fresh to the people.

ocho-onda said...

There is no such thing as an accurate piece and for all that matter, a political analysis can only be as accurate as the analyst’s objectivity,impartiality,command of language to articulate his or her thoughts into words and least but not least, his or her mastery of the particular subject of analysis.
Otherwise, the outcome will be nothing but mere spins of the yarn or worse, reflections of the fanatical rantings of a football junkie !
However,regardless of whether an analysis is that of a “carma” or that of an ordinary concerned citizen like most of us, the common criteria ,where it counts, is the honesty of the analysis,critique,opinion ,etc.
At the end of the day, if you give a particular dish,poem,writing,etc, to ten different persons,you will arrive with ten different conclusions,opinions,etc because each opinion is subjected to relativity !
The objective of analysis is not the form of the analysis itself but the possibility for any form of analysis to take place at all, - freedom of expression !!!
Having said that,it cannot be over emphasized, the importance of reading the fine print or the relevance of being able to read in between the lines when the reader is faced with a political spin as far as political analysis is concerned !!!