There is a nation of quiet Malaysians out there.
Recently I recorded five from very different ethnic, religious and political backgrounds debating police reform, something I think they may have been too scared to do under the old premier, Mahathir Mohamad.
But these last two years the quiet Malaysians have started to speak up.
And though the braying benches of parliamentarians who call one another monkeys or racists warn that public debate will lead to race war, disorder and strife, the Malaysians I meet can thrash out the issues and get along with one another just fine.
And with a quiet Malaysian like Abdullah Badawi at the helm perhaps their time has come.
My question is : "Are we really beginning to speak up, after 22 years of silence?" Mouse coming out to play when the cat is not around and the Guardian of the House is elegantly silent?
I guess so. While MPs can brawl like nobody's business in the Parliament, we are never short of debates and opinions like Jacqueline Ann Surin's Open Letter to the PM, support for the ban on Lelaki Komunis Terakhir to be revoked and even relatively sensitive religious matters such as Kongsi Raya, Article 11, Moorthy's body snatching were freed to be opinioned by the mainstream media without another round of Ops Lalang.
So, yes. We are beginning to speak up but we are speaking up pseudo-artificially. To quote from RPK:
The press under the control of Kali had been dressed up to appear more open in preparation for the day when they could, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, declare that they were freer and more critical now than they ever had been under M. Even so, when the attack finally came, the KJ-controlled press scrambled to vilify M. Some of the attempts were actually quite comical. For example, Datuk K of TV3 went so far as to interview ketua kampungs and penghulus to voice their support for AAB. Even the often-erudite RR could do no more than write a so-called open letter to M, nauseatingly praising AAB’s so-called ‘open press policy’ without declaring of course that this policy gave him back the job from which Abdullah Ahmad had dismissed him before. In other words, the small bit players came out with their little pen-knives to scratch M’s skin and laugh gleefully as it bled a little. The truth was that the efforts to undermine M began from day one of AAB’s administration. It was a deliberate and cohesive strategy devised by KJ, presented many months before the handover to the team he had formed to play the role of AAB’s crutches.
Want some example for RPK's quote? Here's a letter to theSun for a start...
Another 'little pen-knife'?
So now you wonder why the (bloody) fuel hike protests and the most recent Missing Piece of News were blackened out? They concerned the current administration directly and not implicating back to the predecessor!
So, finally again, it comes back to this question:
Is the deafening silence of The Wise Man a 'blessing in disguise' or a 'wolf in a sheep's skin'?