Is democracy alive or dead?

Rubbing salt into the wounds? But anyway…

Ijok by-election shows democracy is alive, says DPM

KUALA LUMPUR: The Ijok by-election showed that democracy is alive and well in the country, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said. The Opposition parties had a huge opportunity to campaign and no one tried to stop them. Their top leaders were assembled there too,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

I guess thats life, you work hard and things might not the way you want them to. PKR lives to fight another day I guess.

But its interesting to observe certain sociological behaviours manifesting itself. Election violence and allegations of fraud aside,

1. This election is driven more by perception than by facts. The perception is that if BN wins, it signals that all is well with Malaysia, which everybody knows is simply not true. Victory by the opposition though, will a not send the signal that ex-PM Mahathir is talking about. If history is any witness, BN will counter with a media blitz whitewashing their defeat and condemning the opposition for dirty tactics.

Thus fuelled by these ‘promises’ of victory, the stakes balloons out of proportions and emotions run high. Let’s face it, thuggery and chaos during campaigning and polling day had their roots in Badawi’s visit to Ijok more than any insults traded from across the streets.

2. The money involved certainly raised eyebrows. Otherwise, it would have just been any other by-election. 36 million ringgit poured into a single constituency within a fortnight. Of course the question is: If the money was there in the first place, why wait until now? But then again we all know the priorities of the ex-dentist right…

I can imagine that it is very hard for any ordinary man to resist the association of good governance with a instant makeover. The association is not unreasonable, its just short sighted. The same tactic (albeit illegal) has been used over and over again to secure a good win for BN in the rural/suburban areas. Is it for the lack of education? No. I think it is human nature; after all gratitude is so much a part of Malaysian culture.

3. Democracy is a fickle thing, especially in a post-modern world. After all, who decides what democracy means? The Greeks, our colonial masters or our own version of it, which so many cabinet ministers are fond of defending? I have never voted, but I know that democracy is more than being able to vote. Voting means naught if the people voted into office become corrupt AND happen to have the media on their side. In such a mileau, is democracy alive as Najib claims?

An election and ballot is a double edged sword. It empowers the citizen, but can be used to create a sense of false legitimacy. This pattern has been used over and over again in repressive regimes. Much like how deviant religious teachers create authority by deliberately misintepreting canon.

By the way, click on the phrase ‘no one tried to stop them’ in the news clip and decide or not whether Najib is lying through his teeth.

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About me

moogleBorn and bred in KL, Malaysia. Now studying for his Phd in Singapore. Learning to walk one fall at a time.


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