At least three thousand peaceful protestors marched in Kuala Lumpur today in a show of support for the citizens of Egypt who are fighting valiantly for their freedom.
It is the Malaysians right to do so, as guaranteed under their constitution. And they should have been allowed to do so unmolested. But that was not the way it played out. The police moved in aggresively, shooting tear gas, wielding truncheons, beating, kicking and arresting people already on their way home (As reported in both online and mainstream newspapers). We have yet to see the Egyptian police doing this in Tahrir Square.
Why this overreaction? Why this careless, overbearing use of the states security apparatus?
The answer may not be some overzealous police officer trying to earn brownie points but a nervous, fearful State. Malaysia, like Egypt, is a nation suffering under the yoke of repression. Freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press have all been curbed.
In the state controlled media, only fawning reports of the ruling party and the too often despicable political creatures who inhabit it. As for the once bright and shining slogan of 1Malaysia, it has been undermined, sullied and ultimately crushed by Utusan's unending diatribes. Aided ably by the unrepentant, garrulous Dr. Mahathir, sniping from the sidelines, as usual. Will he never be visited by Dicken's ghosts?
There is no accountability; politicians, even Cabinet Ministers who are accused of shocking crimes never do the right thing by resigning to clear the accusations levelled at them.
While the Prime Minister tours the country, promising multi-billion dollar Projects at every stop that would beggar richer nations, like a latter day Baron Munchausen.
Incompetence and immorality pervade the highest echelons of the ruling BN.
In the case of the MCA, a self-confessed adulterer as their leader. Being called immoral by a senior leader of his own party provokes no response. He cannot defend the indefensible.
In the MIC, a clueless, silent factotum of its former reviled leader reigns. Tarnished by his too close relationship with his boorish predecessor, humiliatingly rejected by Umno as a candidate for the Hulu Selangor by-election and playing second fiddle to his own party deputy in the Cabinet, MIC's leader unashamedly clings on; a hapless monument to indignity.
The Institutions that should be safeguarding citizens; distinct from the Executive; are widely perceived to have been compromised by that very Executive. And prices are rising, with wages staying flat.While elections must be called soon.
And the last thing the ruling party's well-paid strategists and spin doctors needed; as they pondered and brainstormed on how to sell this uninviting mess to the Malaysian voter; was this turmoil in the Middle East.
They are not at all sure of how these momentous events will affect the vote, particularly that of the Muslim electorate.
For, make no mistake, it will affect the voters. They are already emboldened by the historic elections of 2008. And now, they see that, even in more draconian states, change can be brought about by a determined people.
And so, like bullying overseers at some medieval salt mine, the authorities crack the whip. The weapon of choice for autocrats and despots everywhere; intimidation and violence.
Coupled with control of the mass media. Who spew blatant, obvious 3rd rate propaganda; an insult to educated Malaysia's intelligence. Except that the internet may defeat them.
So the authorities rush to come up with laws with which they can control the internet and its denizens. Breaking their own pledge to leave the internet alone.
Immediately turning large numbers of furious, outraged bloggers, commenters and intermittent web surfers into active opposition activists. For the free citizens of cyberspace do not like being told what to do or what to think by anybody. And most certainly not by an uninspiring, scandal-tainted politician from another age who appears, for some unfathomable reason, to speak through his teeth.
For every thoughtless action, a reaction.
A reckoning is coming, in the form of the General Election, and the results will change Malaysia.
We must hope it will make make Malaysia a better place for all. Where the rule of law and unselective prosecution prevails. A free nation, run by accountable, respectable and responsible politicians. Governing in a just, transparent manner.