Political Randomness: The Colour Black

I am confused.

My mother is confused.

Everybody is confused.

Some months back, an older relative asked, “What is going on with Perak?”

The clan looked at me.

Exasperated, I shook my head and said I did not know. “I do not even want to think about it!”

Honestly, all I wanted to do was to spank whoever it was who caused the debacle in the first place. If what the news is anything to go by, the rotan will get a workout: there appears to be more than one culprit.

Much has been and will be said on the Perak issue, by many more qualified than I.

I hope they continue to simplify the matter for us. Too important to ignore, despite initial interest, many stopped following the issue simply because they could not understand what was going on.

This article deals with the reactions of friends to the arrest of Dr. Wong Chin Huat.

Chin Huat and I met at a talk. We are acquaintances. He is not my best friend, but I was touched to observe his kindness and patience in dealing with people, sorely lacking in Malaysian society. Having them in abundance, he approached audience members to chat after the talk.

I overheard him: “I saw you seemed a little confused when my colleague spoke on matter X. Would you like me to explain what he meant?”

The person took up his offer and also told Chin Huat he disagreed with something he said. I watched how Chin Huat considered this audience member’s opinion, and that they agreed to disagree on a point or two. The conversation took place in a mature and non-defensive fashion. I was impressed.

Sometimes, one wishes the same for Parliament.

When a friend informed several of us of Chin Huat’s arrest, we were livid and did not believe it. If he could be arrested for asking people to wear black, if they wanted to and provided that they disagreed with the way in which Perak was handled, how will the rest of us be affected?

Many wear black because its fashionable and has “slimming” qualities. After his arrest, a few people continued wearing their normal attire. This time, with pride: this is my usual attire, and I wear this also to voice my disagreement.

Turning the office wardrobe purple is costly in these economic times. Additionally, according to news updates, we should not let politics distract us from economics.

Yet, political and economic stability are interlinked.

After Chin Huat’s release, headaches continued.

Does this mean we cannot talk about politics in mamak stalls anymore?

Do our government servants dislike black that much?

Could they not have just told Chin Huat to tell everyone to wear pink?

The ability of the nation to voice and discuss its concerns, which may sometimes involve disagreement, is a vital part of what constitutes a functioning democracy. The call to wear black did not involve violence on the part of the people towards our leaders or amongst each other.

Consideration must be given to what this means for our freedom of expression.

Will it impact friends who are journalists and lawyers operating within the political sphere?

How does it affect us thinking citizens?

What is the point, then, of reading the news or voting to express opinions?

A keen interest in the history of Malaysian politics and the dynamics that brought us to our current state of democracy runs in our veins.

This is beautiful: we both realise and dread our complexities, while loving its benefits.

Many thoughts, one colour – commonly worn. One cannot help but consider that young people flock to nightclubs all over the country wearing black. That Sunday, Mothers’ Day, mothers wore black skirts and tops to temples, churches and McDonald’s on their family day out.

Almost everyone has black shoes. It hides the dirt.

Come to think of it – the thought of scantily clad and glittering teenagers and grandmothers nervously clasping Mothers’ Day greeting cards and surrounding our bespectacled academician – made my sister and I choke with laughter.

Clad in black, of course.

During his period of incarceration, everyone I knew who has been involved in constitutional and human rights work or cares about these issues, tried to participate in some way.

It hit home: everyone who has been doing something, the “mover-and-shaker activists”, have been doing all they can and are still involved. They can do no more.

Yet, the best of their abilities was insufficient to prevent arrest.

This leaves the future of our country to the rest of us.

The question, “What can we do?” needs to be less of a justification, and more of a genuine initiative to take action.

We must remember that applying for residency overseas as the way out is not a luxury most Malaysians can afford. On a personal level, not all of our relatives or friends are in a position to leave the country.

The fate of the nation is no longer in the hands of a few freedom fighters. It never was.

It lies in our hands.

My grandmother is too old to switch countries in spite of the fact that she never wears black. For a decent update on grassroot happenings, please see to harismibrahim.wordpress.com


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Posted on 21 May 2009. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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5 Responses to Political Randomness: The Colour Black

  1. My hair is black. OMG!!!

    Good one Petra.

    chill!

  2. Excellent piece, Petra. Poignant and it really speaks out in a style that we all can understand.

  3. Michelle Gunaselan

    Good one babe! :) You're writing for Loyar Burok now?! :D

  4. Well said, well said!

    The fate of the nation… lies in our hands.

  5. Kris

    Wonderful piece. Quote "The call to wear black did not involve violence on the part of the people towards our leaders or amongst each other.

    Consideration must be given to what this means for our freedom of expression."

    Well said and a very pertinent point. When one can get arrested for choice of colour in clothing in expressing our discontent, what exactly does it say for our democratically elected government? It was a knee jerk reaction (the arrest of Chin Huat and it's epilogues), that wasn't even remotely thought through and what's worse, the morality of it was brushed aside. No consideration at all.