Monday, February 04, 2008

NaSTy Editorial Chides EC Chairman Photo-tearing (BERSIH) and 'Don't Jail Doctors' Blog Campaign

So typical, so usual, nothing special.

EDITORIAL: How much is enough?

THE distressing -- one might say ridiculous -- spectacle of ostensibly conscientious objectors tearing up a photograph of Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Rahman was described by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as biadap. The word translates well into English as "insolent", especially in its description of crass, crude and ill-mannered behaviour. Indeed, over the past year or so, the EC chairman has become something of a lightning rod for the attacks of local objectors, detractors and dissenters declaiming their convictions of the untrustworthiness of the Malaysian electoral system and its processes. Perhaps the cack-handed melodrama of this latest stunt was an indication that such public displays of anger are wearing thin on those they seek to rally to their avowedly righteous cause.

The prime minister affected a tone of weary resignation when addressing these protests against the electoral system in the wake of this incident. Protesters had asked for indelible ink to mark voters, as a measure against anyone voting more than once. That was accepted, and will be implemented for the first time in the coming elections. There had also been a demand for transparent ballot boxes -- also accepted. Having acquiesced on such points -- and absorbed their added cost into the EC's RM200 million budget for the general election -- these measures are now sneeringly dismissed as "cosmetic changes". If so, why the fuss to get them instituted in the first place?


Fuelled by the feisty new freedoms of expression enabled by the Internet media, objectionism in this country seems to be reaching a point where it exists entirely for its own sake. Protesting against the controversial sentencing of a doctor deemed to have transgressed a new law, a blog campaign has been mounted on the slogan "Don't Jail Doctors", as if that was the objective of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act, and not to protect patients. Such shrill, provocative posturing subverts what elder statesman Tun Musa Hitam welcomed as the thriving new "digital democracy" that has emerged in this country, and lends greater emphasis to his caution to these quarters "to be more rational and less emotional" on the issues exercising them and the agendas they wish to shape. Keep the demands sensible and the arguments tenable. Otherwise, the common sense of common folk will likely end up consigning such rabble-rousing to the distant peripheries of their concern -- which may only goad the radical fringe into even greater histrionics.

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