I woke up this morning to news that the Internal Security Act (ISA) has been invoked in Malaysia, again. This, coming from a ruling government that enjoys an unprecedented 90% majority in Parliament and rose to power on the trust of the rakyat. I can still remember, just barely two months ago, Minister in the PM's Department, cheerily boasted that there had been no detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) after Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over as Prime Minister in 2003, and that it was a positive thing. Now, look where we are today.
Our government, likes to create it's own problems and solve them in the stoopidest way possible. With regards to the Hindraf issue, it was just a bunch of people with some crazie ideas who wanted to petition the British government with some extremely tenuous and far-fetched demands. I'm sure that Her Majesty's Government would've handled things in a most civil manner and given the Hindraf a very sane reply. But no... our government had to step in, kick up a fuss, and mess everything up. Silliest thing is, the Hindraf people weren't looking for a direct fight with the government. Some would say that they were setting the government up. If that was true, our government took the bait, hook, line and sinker. Sendiri cari pasal!
My personal opinion is that the government wanted to look tough. It's handling of another public rally, a few weeks before, wasn't particularly spectacular. The authorities were out smarted and 40,000 people gathered for a peaceful demonstration. Our PM had declared that he was pantang dicabar just days before and this rally was seen as a massive act of defiance against him, by many people. He wasn't about to allow another public rally to be held just weeks later. It is a slippery slope. If they allowed them to proceed, we'd have rallies every fortnight in KL. So, they had to clamp down hard on a group of already down-trodden people, including showing utter disrespect for other religions by attacking people on holy ground (sanctuary).
This made them look like a bunch of bullies. Big ass bullies.
Our government also had the Hindraf leaders arrested and charge on grounds of sedition. Then, having the case dismissed because the prosecuting team failed to produce a translation of the alleged seditious material, which was written in Tamil, made them look utterly incompetent. Then, we had a group of 31 people who were arrested during the demonstrations, charged with attempted murder of a policeman by the AG. Granted, if people resorted to violence, they should be booked, but I seriously doubt that the AG could possibly make a case for 31 people attempting to murder a single policeman, stick.
Then, came the campaign of fear and lies, telling people that mass protests weren't the Malaysian way. I'd like to respectfully remind them that the Malayan Union was dissolved due to mass protests lead by Dato' Onn Jaafar in 1946. Mass rallies is the Malaysian way of doing things. Ada gambar lagi, oh! So, the government had failed to deter public protests through the threat of force, and had failed to displace the leaders through legal means. This invariably led to only one option, the use of the ISA. This is not the first time that the ISA had been used to quash political protests in Malaysia, and it certainly won't be the last, as long as the law exists.
But there is one critial flaw in it's application now.
In the good old days of iron fisted rule in Malaysia, there would've been no hesitation in applying the ISA from the onset. That is how a proper dictatorial government should act, quickly and decisively. Even though it was wrong, it would've been a clear demonstration of authority and that the government was not to be messed with. It showed who was unquestionably in charge. This time around, there was a real attempt made at not using the ISA. Lame ass charges were drawn up, numerous warnings and threats were given and ignored. Then, in a final act of desperation, the boot fell down. This is how a weak government acts, belated and desperate. You cannot put the genie back into the bottle once you let it out.
Our present PM, if he had wanted to use the ISA, should've taken lessons from his predecessor, who was The Master at applying it. Doing it like this, just makes the government look weak and powerless. It has now played it's trump card, and it hasn't got anything left in it's arsenal, except declaring martial law and turning it's guns on the rakyat. Doing that, would be like shooting itself in the foot, and would be a tremendously stupid thing to do. However, I wouldn't put it beyond this government to do it in order to cling on to power. Remember, elections aren't required under martial law.
The only question is what everyone else will do now. The trouble with most Malaysians is that we have not suffered enough. The NEP has succeeded in creating a large middle class in Malaysia, who are contended with the way things are. As long as the government continues to keep us dumb by feeding us blatant lies, things will continue. It's unfortunate that most peace loving Malaysians won't do anything to rock the boat, even if they know how bad things are and we will need things to get into dire straits, before any of us will act, out of desperation.
We are not a democracy. Let us not kid ourselves about it. We are a hippocracy.
Actually, this whole fiasco reminds me of a character from Dune, Glossu Rabban.
Glossu Rabban was the older nephew of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. He inherited the Harkonnen cruelty and sadism but without the intelligence. He is best known for his tyrannical and vastly ineffective governance of Arrakis during the insurgency by the Fremen led by Paul Muad'dib. The Baron planned to let Glossu rule the planet for a time in the most brutal way possible, so that when his favored nephew, Feyd-Rautha, took over, the new ruler would be welcomed as a hero.I wonder if someone isn't being set up.