Are you angry with the petrol hike?
Don’t just blame the politicians. Blame also the police who had stopped us from demonstrations. Blame all members of public who see demonstrations as evils or crimes.
What have demonstrations got to do with petrol hike?
Demonstrations are a complement, sometimes an alternative, to elections, as mechanisms of reflecting the electorate choice. When people are free to demonstrate, governments have to be sensitive and responsive to public opinion.
Even in a democracy, a government cannot forever resist the pressure to cut petroleum subsidy. Neither can it not think of a comprehensive package to absorb the shock of petroleum hike.
The problem with Malaysia is that we first have a government who dared not to gradually free the petroleum price much earlier because it has little legitimacy to do something unpopular. And because of its unwillingness to take the unpopular but necessary measure, the government has never been bothered to think out a comprehensive plan to “change Malaysians’ lifestyle”!
What do we have since the last petrol hike? Upgrade of public transport? Financial incentives for using alternative energy sources? Reduction of transportation cost through slashing toll rates? Petroleum dividend to be shared all eligible Malaysians (and not just rebate for those rich enough to afford cars)?
No, none of these! Why? Because the government did not faced enough pressure.
That’s how democracy works. As said, government should be afraid of its people, not people afraid of its government.
In Malaysia, the police have however protected the government from public anger. When ordinary citizens like this gentleman express themselves peacefully, they get beaten up by the police. In doing so, the police has no regard for our Federal Constitution and all our rights enshrined in it.
With those freedoms of speech, of information, of assembly, of association, deprived, we are left with an incompetent government that sits on problems rather than solving them.
By incompetence, I do not think Abdullah should take all the blames. Had Mahathir been in power, he would crack down on political dissidents only more harshly and Malaysia will take the course he charts single-handedly, which may land us in better or worse situation, depending on if his gambler instinct pays off or not.
We are paying it economically now for our political backwardness. It’s our karma.