Claiming back our freedom

By Muaz Omar | May 03, 2012
The Malaysian Insider

May 3 — American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr once said, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

How apt the quote is. We have just experienced how the people have spoken to regain their freedom, demanding a return of their right to free and fair elections.

We live in interesting times. Malaysia is in transition, with most hoping that decades of injustice will be undone.

The oppressed is not simply of one particular race. It is a vast segment of ordinary Malaysians from all walks of life.

Many blame this on the almost undisrupted domination of Umno for the past 55 years. They say this has resulted in regression of the nation’s social and political facade.

While Umno continues to beat the drums of nationalism, their oppressive nature has turned them into an extreme and racist beast.

As the nation and its people developed and progressed, Umno has dragged its feet, not wanting to accept that the social and political fabric has changed.

They are trapped in their old ways continuing their archaic doctrine of oppression, rampant corruption and abuse of power as well as propagating religious and racial tensions.

Half-hearted and watered-down transformation policies by Prime Minister Najib Razak failed to diminish the desire of Malaysians for a better deal.

The people are not impressed by the lack of political will.

This resulted in the resounding success of Bersih 3.0 on April 28 in Kuala Lumpur and 80 other cities around the world.

Hundreds of thousands, mostly young, of all races attended the gathering in Kuala Lumpur peacefully until the riot police took action.

Ordinary Malaysians were beaten up and tear-gassed. Even local and foreign media personnel were manhandled, some with their equipment destroyed and confiscated.

This black mark on Malaysian democracy reaffirms concerns that Najib lacks the desire or the will to reform.

His much-touted Peaceful Assembly Act did not provide any democratic civil rights to the people but is used to forcefully maintain the hegemony of his own party.

In short, Najib continues to engage in repressive and authoritarian tactics of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The tenacity as well as desire of Malaysians for substantive change was evident during the rally.

As Najib and Umno-BN leaders try to downplay and dismiss this demand by shifting blame and pointing fingers, Pakatan Rakyat needs to listen closely to Malaysians and not misread or take for granted their desire for change.

The people swarmed the capital with the intent of claiming back their freedom; they are tired, they are fed-up, and they are angry.

Change is coming and its looming close on the horizon.

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