Friday, April 27, 2012

Bersih, Occupy.... Random Thoughts

And they get all muddled up....

On 19th April, 8 laws were passed in one day at the Parliament! I think most of us were not even aware of that or its implications. Some of the laws deal with how votes are counted, they will loosen the accountability factors. Many of us probably won't think much about it cos many of us are still swimming in our sea of apathy or have this attitude that it doesn't concern us. As long we have our own little comfy zone, It doesn't matter what goes on out there.
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Occupy Dataran... when the students started camping there, it wasn't so much about Bersih. What they wanted was free education. Can we afford it? I don't quite know. But I feel they have a valid claim, for one simple reason. There are too many allegations of corruption and the perpetrators seem impervious to the law. And if I were a student I'd be thinking why not use all these money for our education.

Bersih 3.0. When our Home Minister said Bersih is no threat, I found myself thinking that version 3.0 will not be getting that much attention. The authorities are going to let it go.... give the freedom to oppose. Little did I expect things to change so rapidly in the past few days. Two hours of sit down, to protest what they believe are things which should be cleaned up. Anyone with a little intelligence can see the validity of their demands. Why not just assist? Provide the support. Let the people protest.... and reform if necessary.

And this is where the reactions of the authorities defy logic. Dataran lockdown! Public space is now the Mayor's. The PDRM is now asked to treat the sit in within the security context. These people just want some acts cleaned up. And that is why I think many people are beginning to rethink or perhaps even more convinced now that there is a lot of truth in the corruption allegations flying around. You can't a lie too long when too many people are involved because everyone involved will begin to think they deserve more too.... for their loyalty. Take a cue from an alleged involvement of one Minister and an actress.

I had an interesting conversation just recently about church life. In many places beyond the cities, the churches are aging. One is due to the migration of young people to the city in search of better job prospects. Another is the church doesn't seem to be drawing in new people too. They've not been successful in engaging the young. And one of the reasons for this is the style of leadership in many churches have gotten stuck in the rut. Having the same people occupying the roles of leadership, some for decades does not help too as people become entrenched for various reasons. We talk plenty about God but we cannot rise above ourselves to answer God's calling. When we stay too long, very often our view to that calling becomes blurred. Hyperopia sets in. Obfuscation happens. Clear lines become gray. Real issues and needs get drowned in noises and excuses. And finally we tell ourselves that all these excuses are okay because we are only human. And expect that these excuses be accepted.....

I remember when I was schooling, our pastors and youth cousellors would often challenge us to make it a commitment to go to church every Sunday, to make that commitment even if we have exams the next day. Even with that, many of us struggled to keep our commitment. These days, I see Christian parents making excuses for their children not to attend church because they have tuitions or are in the afternoon classes. And we make excuses for them. We teach over the pulpit about making commitments, honouring God, yet we fail to encourage our children to honour that commitment. We become stuck in the rut because we cannot rise above ourselves. We feel that rushing our kids for church will be too much hassle, or missing the tuition will cost them their future. So much about trusting God....

It just came to light that the top two Election Commission heads are member of a political party. Even in churches (and probably temples, mosques), you hear murmurs of favouritism - family members, close friends, close friends' friends... the list is unending. Not too many years ago, I remember a group of church members sitting down and highlighting their perceived favouritism of children of church leaders. The point is if one is affliated by blood or membership, you can count on favouritism to rear its ugly head. Nepotism, cronyism - these are the offsprings of such a relationship. Rising above self, laying down self at the Cross.... often they often sound like rhetorics. There're after all many pathways to legitimization....

Getting stuck in the rut would have been prevented if a two-way engagement had been made possible, accepting the challenges and rising above our selfish desires, basically doing what is universally right. Evaluation, reflection and action are necessary if the processes of rejuvenation and renewal are to take place; and if we live our lives, not constrained by our wanting to leave legacy for selfish reasons. But sometimes, that very human nature; call it selfishness, insecurity, greed, relevance or any other suitable names; prevent us from taking that step. By not engaging, we hang on a little longer. We insulate our minds for whatever reasons closest to our hearts. And in extreme times, we try to hang on by wielding power and bulldozing those around into submission. That happens a lot when all reason is lost.

And that is how I see Bersih... the government is missing a great opportunity to engage the rakyat, to reform where necessary and to begin anew too where possible. It's an opportunity to prune and throw away the deadwood, clean up and begin all over again on the right footing. Cos the power of working together can only be good for everyone. Where is the humility that is supposed to come with leadership.... unless leadership is no longer about servitude but self serving. That probably explains why we have so many allegations of corruption and so many perceived cover ups.

And oh yes! What happened on the night of 19th April at the Parliament, where 8 laws were passed is reason enough for Bersih.... Our lawmakers don't seem to be able to rise above themselves too. It's scary how our rights can be pushed through the corridors of power so quickly, and even scarier that many of us are so oblivious to it.

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