SALAM, AND PEACE BE UPON US ALL,
The just concluded Sarawak state election has seen the firsts of many – an interior area was won by the urban PKR and DAP won in every seat that it contested in, save for one, or was it two? There are aplenty of firsts, but the one that caught my interest most is the ever emerging trend of aggressive, politics of hate and intimidation that seem to be leaving a bitter taste in everybody’s mouth – the candidates, the voters, and especially in mine, who was so accustomed to gentlemanly type of politicking.
Now, don’t get me wrong; politics are known to be dirty and there are so many unimaginable, horrible things that candidates would do to get a vote or two. This is of course understandable, for becoming an elected representative brings with it all kinds of privilege. For as long as I can remember however, local politicians have been courteous enough in their manners of politicking, not at least intentionally punching somebody else below the belt. Sure, there might have been some fiery exchange of words, intense house-to-house campaigning, jeers, caricatures on billboards and whatnot, but at least the politicking is still bearable for most Sarawakians.
Of course, many things have changed during and after the last election, and now we have the likes of Utusan Malaysia urging the Federal Government to punish voters who voted for Opposition by denying them development. Such things are quite unheard of before - blaming the voters for simply exercising their constitutional right and suggesting such atrocity upon our own fellow Malaysians.
For many Sarawakians who have long learned to integrate and unite with others, such crass, obtuse threats leveled against them seem to validate their suspicions that Malayan politics are all about destroying each other through all means possible. I do not wish to delve into why BN should lose in those urban areas, or why Utusan Malaysia is so mad at us Sarawakians, but I would be damned if anyone should call us racists or ingrates for simply exercising our voting rights. Have we no respect for others that we go all out to deride our fellow human beings for being human?
To sneer at someone’s decision not to go with the flow is one thing, but to talk someone down who is only out to exercise his/her voting right is subtly genocidal. Is that not a direct assault on our freedom to decide? I sometimes wonder if it’s a deliberate decision by the Education Ministry to put little or no emphasis on the topics of basic human rights in textbooks, and thus the gross insensitivities that some Malaysians just love to flaunt shamelessly.
I fear that if such negative trend is allow to set its foot firmly in Sarawak, gone will be the peaceful, happy days when we Sarawakians can get along really well with despite being of different ethnics, religious creeds and political views. Even my Malay friends were genuinely appalled by Utusan Malaysia‘s and a host of other bigots’ vulgar sentiments, wondering if the dark days of hate politics are finally here in Sarawak.
Politics aside, I believe all of us have roles in managing this wonderful country of ours, and we elect people to do this job on our behalf. The right to choose representation as one sees fit comes with our birth right to welfare, assistance and a host of other inalienable human rights that must be accorded to every human being. For anyone to punish others who show their dissent through ballox box, that should be the greatest crime punishable by any natural law.
Everyone, from our Kings to ministers, and from the governments of the day and of those to come to the governed people, should respect and defend everybody’s right to choose representation. A ruling party long kept on the throne does not signify stability, nor does an ever changing government means all is not well. I don’t think we are going to see a two-party system very soon, but at least we can respect the decision of others who wanted a form of check and balance mechanism in day to day management of our nation. Such basic right to mutual respect is aptly described by Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
To quote the great American statesman John Adams:
“Liberty, according to my metaphysics is a self – determining power in an intellectual agent. It implies thought and choice and power“.
Such great words from one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and also the most befitting assurance that is owed to everyone greatly distressed by intimidation and bigotry. I only hope that we will all remain steadfast in defending the sanctity of our fundamental human rights, for no liberty shall ever prevail alongside fascism and Hitlerian communalism.
Let us all keep all that is good, and reject all that is rotten and poisonous.
Salam, and again may peace always be upon you.
M. Chauhan is a first time writer and it took him an average of 48 hours to write down his thoughts. His views are of his own, and this article can be reproduced as long it is properly attributed to him.