Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Don’t fear sensitive issues

8:35AM Oct 13, 2014
By Mariam Mokhtar
The term ‘sensitive issues’ is a convenient epithet used by Umno Baru, and its supporters, to stop the rakyat from discussing matters which affect every Malaysian. The people who say we should not discuss these ‘sensitive issues’ have something to hide. When we look at the issues which have been deemed ‘sensitive’, they are race, religion and royalty - the three ‘Rs’ which have been used by the government to divide and rule.

What makes a subject ‘sensitive’? A topic becomes sensitive when something needs to be hidden from public censure - like a cover-up, an abuse of funds or power, or a crime has been committed. How convenient! This allows Umno Baru to reinforce their power base and strengthen their hold over us.

Who benefits, when these sensitive issues are not discussed? The purpose is to protect those who have done wrong.

Why should we be stopped from discussing topics which the government terms ‘sensitive’? Someone does not want the truth to leak out.

Why should we not discuss sensitive issues? Wouldn’t you, too, like to know what it takes to get free travel on a government jet?

What does the government mean by sensitive? If a 12-year-old Muslim girl, who has been raped by a father-of-four, is then forced to marry her rapist, so that the rapist can avoid prosecution, why should I, or my fellow Malaysians, Muslims and non-Muslims, not discuss this issue?

It involves statutory rape. It involves an adult who should have been her protector, not her rapist. It involves someone using religion to escape being punished for an evil crime. It involves a misguided parent. It involves syariah court compliance. Most importantly, it involves the silence of many Muslims who are afraid to speak out, because they fear being criticised by their peers. For them, their pride is more important than justice for a little girl.

When a politician’s family is awarded a contract to set up a feedlot, it is ironic that they bought more condominiums than cows. Discussion of diligent financial analysis revealed to the rakyat this abuse of funds. More importantly, people learned that the taxpayers’ money is not Umno Baru’s money.

Undoing all the bad in Malaysia will not be an overnight process. The people in power will cheat, lie and force you to act in their interests. If they did not act mercilessly, they would lose the mandate to rule. They have everything to lose. Their power. Their position in life. Their money. Their properties. Their freedom.

Conversely, you have nothing to lose if you and your fellow Malaysians continue the fight for a progressive Malaysia. If you triumph, you will change unjust laws, remove prejudices, but most of all, you will regain your pride, your dignity and you will be able to dictate to the new lawmakers, to create the Malaysia you desire. Don’t be cowed into silence. Don’t be cowed into submission.

It is not just construction and building works which have sub-contracts. What Umno Baru cannot do using the police and the courts, they sub-contract to outsiders. Violence is allegedly sub-contracted to gangs of thugs, to intimidate peaceful protesters.

Making leaders accountable

Our responsibility as upright citizens is to question our leaders, query their motives and make them accountable for their actions.

Why should the government be allowed to break the rules, ignore the constitution, gag people, punish whistleblowers, jail and allegedly get rid of troublemakers? What do you think is the reasoning behind the sedition sweep? It is because Umno Baru is afraid.

Those who have been prosecuted, or who are about to be sentenced, are the more vocal ones. Umno Baru hopes that jailing them, will deprive the rakyat of leaders and motivators. When political parties are afraid, the individuals who lead them do stupid things.

The journalist Susan Loone (left) was only doing her job when she was charged with sedition. If Susan’s arrest was meant to teach everyone else a lesson, it has backfired. Our resolve is strengthened, as is Susan’s determination to fight injustice.

Other reporters and writers are possibly on the ‘sedition list’ held by the police. Just imagine what would happen if all the journalists and writers wrote the same seemingly seditious script and printed them simultaneously, in all the alternative papers and social media sites.

What is the government going to do? Shut down Facebook? It can’t. Censor the Internet? There would be a public outcry because Malaysians, who for decades have been deprived of real news, depend on the Internet. The rakyat will have withdrawal symptoms and will retaliate.

Arrest all the journalists? There won’t be enough prison cells  to accommodate everyone. Think of the international condemnation. Malaysians would smell a rat, whilst the ‘everything is rosy news’ would be broadcast on TV3 and Utusan.

For years, our impulse was to say and do nothing if we were told about an abuse of power and funds, such as taxpayers’ money being spent on multi-million ringgit projects.

If one or two people question this abuse, it will not make a difference. Just imagine the impact of several thousand people protesting in every major town and city in Malaysia. There won’t be enough policemen to catch everyone, and not enough jail space to accommodate all of us.

Don’t be afraid. Don’t play into the government’s hands and stop discussing sensitive matters. If you do, you will let yourself and your children down but most of all, you will have handed Umno Baru the most coveted prize on a golden platter - your dignity!

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO).
~ Malaysiakini

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