During the course of an FB chat, a friend asks for my comments on a former reporter colleague’s posting of choosing between peace and prosperity, or freedom, rights, integrity and transparency.
In the Malaysian context, this is supposedly a Hobson’s choice.
As it was close to midnight, I yammered some incomprehensible reply before logging off but an article on the massacre of 57 people, including 31 journalists, on a November morningthree years ago in Maguindanao got me thinking again on the question.
Yes, we have been blessed with relative – the main blemish being the May 13, 1969 riots - peace and prosperity throughout the 54 years of the nation’s existence.
Why couldn’t we, then, put in place principles that upholds one's freedom and rights, governing integrity and transparency – and if I may add – moral and ethics into the way we administer the country?
Can’t we have both? What is it about the latter that is so threatening to the former that co-existence is supposedly impossible?
We are not talking about unbridled freedom and rights but in the context of the proper adherence to the Rule of Law; i.e. where EVERYONE knows exactly where the boundary lies and the penalties for transgressing this line.
Realistically, it is here that we have been found wanting for quite a while now with seemingly two sets of rules being in play: one for the politically favoured and, another, for the rest of us.
That, and the seeming politically-expedient way of our execution of some laws: the most recent being the charging of a Border’s bookstore staff over the banned Irshad Manji’s book.
At least, there is a Judicial Review on the matter.
The retroactive nature of the alleged offence and the seriousness of its outcome (for the staff’s livelihood and freedom) means that there shouldn’t be any other way forward than to contest the charge brought against her under the Syariah Enactment.
So, can it be argued that the Rule of Law is alive and well as such?
Before we come to the said conclusion, do remember that Borders is owned by Berjaya Books and in Malaysia, Berjaya is a biggie.
There shouldn’t have been a charging in the first place had the Rule of Law really been adhered to.
All things said, I have to admit that the country is a relatively peaceful place to live and work in.
Not necessarily play, though, (pun intended) – what with the, ahem, increased perception of lawlessness apparent amongst some of the populace.
What is also true, however, is that some of the natives are restless; a sentiment simmering just below the all-glossy,shiny surface of the nation’s peace and prosperity facade.
Restless over perceived and actual bias in the implementation of national policies, over the seemingly accepted culture of rent seeking as a valid method of earning a living, over a more apparent division of class on top of the already well entrenched polarization of race, over the increasingly burdensome chase of economic over social well being…
Perhaps these are just the middle class / urban suburban / Gen X manic responses to the crushing economic malaise of late.
Or mere ravings of the disgruntled, treasonous ingrates as purported by some of our politicians.
Sadly, the peace we’ve held for so long did not see the putting into place a system of governance where such grievances could have been amicably tackled.
I’ve often asked this question: how and when did the country go off tangent in its nation-building to come to this sad state?
When did we make peace and prosperity, and governance, rights, integrity and transparency a Hobson’s Choice?
To some, this was when the Doctor was in the house.
Was it? Why did we let it be so?
Did we want our people to be forever in hand outstretched for crumbs mode?
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