Malaysians, walking for the freedom to walk. | Photo by Marcus van Geyzel for LoyarBurok

From the Selangor Times 8 February 2013. Ask Lord Bobo is a weekly column by LoyarBurok where all your profound, abstruse, erudite, hermetic, recondite, sagacious, and other thesaurus-described queries are answered!

What is the use of elections if people continue to protest after casting their ballots? (@Klchan3, via Twitter)

What an honour to receive a question from the head-honcho-editor-person from the Selangor Times! Sadly, the question shows that he hasn’t been paying attention to the Ask Lord Bobo columns.

Democracy is messy. And it is particularly messy for nations coming out of a dictatorship for years, with massive unemployment, high inflation and hopelessness in the face of a mighty bully of a leader.

“Democracy” is the rallying cry of those living in the shadows of what could be better.

At times what “democracy” means is not fully understood, and without the necessary institutions or implements in place we see much instability and chaos.

With the fall of a dictator through non-violent direct means, many dissatisfied with the new regime will resort to like means – because there is no other way.

This is what happened to Egypt.

That is one extreme: where direct democracy let alone representative democracy is non-existent. What else do you expect those who may be unhappy with the current government to do?

So, is this a good thing, or bad thing?

Well, that’s for the people to decide – whether to continue in that manner, or to put an end to it. We must bear in mind that, all the way over here in Malaysia, we only read the headlines of rallies and counter-rallies. From our own experience here, we know that the media is not always a reliable source of the truth.

The protagonists play the “Rebel” role. But do we hear about those playing the roles of “Social Change Agent” or “Reformer”?

We must accept that if you want to have a government for the people and by the people, there will be people who will take this maxim to its fullest extent.

But what choice do they have? Would it have been better to continue to be oppressed under a dictatorship? Should people be happy to continue under a corrupt, authoritarian regime posing as a democracy?

Think about this – does electing a government through the ballot once every five years or so mean that people should lay down non-violent direct methods of protest, petitions and pressure in different ways?

His Supreme Eminenceness has noticed that this argument has been voiced in Malaysia – if you’re not happy with the government, then vote them out at the next elections instead of protesting.

Really? Does a democracy mean our voice can only be heard once every five years? And what if the elections are not free and fair?

Instead of saying that protests and other methods of non-violent direct actions are bad, celebrate the base observation that at least the people have found their voice, uncovered their inner courage and will risk life and limb to take action. The diversity of democratic actions is instrumental in keeping the very concept of democracy – the best of the worst forms of governing nation states – alive.

Malaysia has been going through some interesting times in recent years. We are still getting used to some of these freedoms. Now we see BN politicians speaking up as if they champion freedom of speech and freedom to assemble – when in fact just a year ago citizens were being gassed and beaten, assemblies were deemed illegal, and roads were blocked and razor-wired.

Our politicians may have short memories, but people tend to not forget the experience of being tear-gassed and beaten up by the authorities who are supposed to be serving and protecting them.

If we truly believe in freedom of speech, assembly and association, we cannot fault the people who will seek to overthrow the revolutionaries who overthrew the dictator.

Freedom of speech, assembly and association does not just apply to causes that you support – the freedoms are for everyone.

Lord Bobo is not saying anything new here. These cycles of social justice movements have been in existence since time immemorial. All democracies in the world have gone through periods of revolution.

We are sure there are people who would have preferred Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr and Aung San Suu Kyi to shut up, stay at home, or do things through “official government channels”.

We forget history or don’t study it enough (or study it from government approved textbooks) hence the misunderstanding or lack of it.

That’s why you have to move with UndiMsia! – educate, activate, gesticulate, propagate, stimulate, agitate, and celebrate.

Have a question for Lord Bobo? Call on His Supreme Eminenceness by emailing [email protected], stating your full name, and a pseudonym (if you want), or tweeting your questions by mentioning @LoyarBurok and using the hashtag #asklordbobo. What the hell are you waiting for? Hear This, and Tremblingly Obey (although trembling is optional if you are somewhere very warm)! Liberavi Animam Meam! I Have Freed My Spirit!

You can read archives of all the Ask Lord Bobo columns by clicking here. These are the divinely-inspired words of His Supreme Eminenceness Lord Bobo Barnabus PhD SP GBE OMGWTFBBQ.

Ask Lord Bobo is a weekly column by LoyarBurok where all your profound, abstruse, erudite, hermetic, recondite, sagacious, and other thesaurus-described queries are answered! It is the ONLY place that...

One reply on “Ask Lord Bobo: This is what democracy means”

  1. Dear Lord Bobo
    Thank you for clearing up the messy democratic process for us mere mortals. I would like to add (humbly of course!) that there is also a perception that democracy only serves the majority. I put to your eminence that one of the key tenets of democracy is giving representation to ALL… and that just because the majority won, does not imply the minority have lost their right to be heard and taken into account. Back to the topic at hand, democracy allows us to elect representatives to REPRESENT us. Not to forget about us after the voting and do what they feel like. At least from that perspective the people HAVE to continually voice their wants and needs. Street rallies happen when the voices of those who want to be heard are suppressed. But having said that I have come to learn that if done peacefully, they are a lot of fun and effective !!. Theres no putting THAT genie back in the bottle… Demi Mu Malaysia !.

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