October 16, 2009

For ordinary Men and Women

Posted in Malaysia, Tricia's Writings at 2:23 pm by egalitaria

I wrote a review recently in the Sun on Liew Chin Tong’s book…  Here it is!

For ordinary men and women
Tricia Yeoh

SPEAKING for the Reformasi Generation by Liew Chin Tong (Bukit Bendera MP) compiles the author’s writings between 2003 and 2009. It traces the thoughts and struggles of a Malaysian’s political awakening birthed out of the Reformasi movement of 1998. His views, sometimes frustrated but mostly rational, epitomise those of his comrades, making this book an important read since many who were bitten by the “reformasi” bug in their youth are today significant public figures.

This sentiment is captured perfectly by Liew in his personal recount of his participation in the protest against Anwar’s arrest. He states that the “cramped pilgrimage for justice” is “the deepest common bond among the leaders of Pakatan Rakyat”.

However, far from romanticising a singular event, Liew demonstrates incredible grasp of political realities. His passion for political governance is shown through prolific writings from party politics to administrative reform. In my conversations with Liew I have found a rare combination of idealism and pragmatism.

With pride, he says that “Malaysia has been in search of an alternative to Barisan Nasional, and Pakatan Rakyat is an idea whose time has come”… and is “likely to survive for a long time”.

This prediction is an optimistic one – rightly so, written by a Pakatan member – but nevertheless warrants attention. It is a stark reminder amid arising doubts that Pakatan needs to prove itself as a “viable alternative” by succeeding in its state governments.

According to Liew, though, co-operation among the three parties has improved tremendously. The “day-to-day working relationship” forces each member party to think along national lines instead. “The cultural breakthrough that sees PAS accepted by non-Malays and DAP by the Malays is gaining momentum,” recently culminating in the first Malay DAP (Democratic Action Party, of which the author is a member) branch formed.

One respects Liew’s boldness in being one of the few Chinese to study PAS (Parti Islam Se-Malaysia) with great interest. An entire section is dedicated to PAS – not only in a rigorously analytical manner, but in a genuine attempt at understanding their religious philosophies. His inclinations towards the Erdogan faction are clear, while his respect for PAS is evident in a column dedicated to the late president of PAS, “In Memory of Fadzil Noor”, whom he attributes as providing the reformasi movement “one of its most important organisational supports in the early days”.

The relationship among the three Pakatan parties is key, and this book underscores the importance of forming common objectives subsequently informed to the public. The Pakatan convention in December may be an appropriate avenue for this.

Lest he is accused of mere “politicking”, Liew presents clear government reform measures. He repeats the mantra of “a better Parliament”, through increased budgetary Parliament allocation to improve its facilities, and live telecast of its debates. The reader finds it shocking that these fundamental needs are not provided for.

Liew also raises important reforms on public transport and for Kuala Lumpur to have an elected government.

Liew succeeds in planting a question in the reader’s mind: “How much longer can we be complacent about Malaysia’s dire situation?” And indeed, he has taken up the responsibility of being an elected representative, the less-trodden path of his peers. Through his writings, a strong sense of idealism seeps through, although he admits that “politics is about perception”.

And perception seems to be the name of the game these days. Most prominent, however, is Liew’s opinion of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. His Achilles heel lies in his very heritage, which is “(his) political blue blood and … inability to comprehend the common man’s life and needs”. This observation is visibly contrasted against his own raison d’etre where “reformasi was not just about Anwar; it was very much about us.”

Perhaps then, this is what the reformasi generation has sought to represent. The needs and dreams of the everyday Malaysian. It is my hope that Pakatan Rakyat can encapsulate exactly this: the lives of “ordinary men and women”, as Liew so accurately writes.

Tricia Yeoh serves as research officer in the Selangor State Government. The views expressed here are her own.




    To share
    What’s close to my head beyond hair
    Giving me the chance my views to air
    With my personal thoughts to bare

    To care
    For all those who love me
    Eating with me rice and mee
    Even without meat from hare

    To dare
    Share with others what I believe
    Knowing it may help others to relieve
    Themselves in how they fare

    To glare
    The obvious social injustices and wrongs
    Lending a voice to those who aren’t strong
    To gallop faster than any stallion or mare

    (C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng – 041109
    Wed. 4th Nov. 2009.

  2. ruyom said,

    UMNO is only good at spinning and deceiving the people, in particular the malays. The younger generation of malays now are smarter than their forefathers. The smart malays are shying away from UMNO because UMNO has deceived them for far the last 30 years. UMNO has brought harm onto themselves.

  3. fargowin said,

    According to the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) quoted in the story, there are 785000 Malaysians who work overseas, and an estimated two out of every three among them are likely to be professionals.

    Now we can quantify brain drain.

    1000 experienced engineers equates to RM10 billion investment. 2 out of 3 of 785000 professionals working overseas is ~ RM5400 billion.

    What was Najib budget for 2010? RM200 billion?

    So, it is equal to 25 times of national budget.

  4. oversee said,

    The truth is that Umno has ruled supreme for the last 50 years. It always got its way because the dominant ethnic majority of the country always supported its policies.

    The state of the nation is corrupt, discriminatory, inefficient, racist, unjust, and backward. If Malaysia stinks then it is because Umno stinks.

    If the “morals of the country” stinks, then it is because the morals of Umno politicians stinks.

    I won’t even discuss the morality of explosives and murder of foreign nationals as most people seem to be able to tell the difference between right and wrong in this instance.

    Instead, I shall talk about Umno corruption and Umno racism as the former will occasion the disastrous downfall of this nation, and the latter will be the downfall of the malays.

    Umno teaches that it is just to discriminate against all non-malays and non-Muslims: business, college universities, education opportunities, government contracts, jobs, schools, taxes, and even finding a cemetery to bury the dead.

    Umno teaches that it is right to discriminate on the basis of a person culture, language, race or religious belief.

    In front of malays, it speaks of the race and religious, cultural and language supremacy, glorification of ethnic and power subjugation, and in front of non-malays, it speaks of the tolerance and unity in diversity.

    To the vernacular schools it gives a pittance for support, and to malay language schools, there is no need to be diplomatic and call them “national language” schools, it gives 100% support.

    As for English medium schools, the type that made Malaysia education the best in South East Asia, and our school leavers the most sought after anywhere in the civilised world, they were made extinct, courtesy of Umno cultural fantasies and language supremacist.

    So we are left with unemployable graduates with deplorable job skills and prospects.

    Umno language supremacist policies caused the extinction of the best high quality education that Malaysia and the malays would ever know.

    Umno perversion of the very idea of meritocracy in favour of racist discrimination has ensured the lack of meritocractic competition for all Malaysians.

    Later or sooner, the malays will realise that denying meritocracy to non-malays guarantees that there can be no meritocracy for malays even within their own community.

    Umno policies caused a brain drain to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, and the US.

    The fact that there is no entitlement complex nor inferiority complex or notable NEP dependence amongst the non-malays is no accident.

    If the non-malays were the dominant ethnic majority, and they had an Umno-like racist party to lead them with promises of ethnic privileges, ethnic supremacy and racial discrimination, then I believe they would have lost their self-belief, self-confidence, and self-respect too.

    Farish Noor once said “Umno ternak melayu untuk disembelih”.

    I agree, and if the dominant ethnic majority fails to see past Umno false gods of ethnic aggrandizement and seductive promises of ethnic supremacy, then we are all finished.

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