What is not political?

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Many do not realise that they cannot avoid politics, no matter how they try to ignore it, observes Rakyat Jelata.

Malaysians have been brought up to separate the political aspect of their human nature from their socio-economic selves. Many do not realise that they cannot avoid politics, no matter how they try to ignore it. Politics is an inherent and fundamental aspect of human life from which our basic human rights and fundamental freedoms are derived.

Politics existed since the first human societies were formed; because human beings became aware that they could not survive in isolation or singly. Grouping together proved better for the survival of the human species. There were always leaders and followers as each society needs organisers or coordinators as well as workers. Even the animal kingdom is thus organised.

We have been taught since childhood that minors shouldn’t be involved in politics. This is interpreted as a prohibition on holding any political opinion opposing the government. Such capping of the ability to think and express one’s self kills natural critical thinking and the inner thirst for knowledge.

From childhood experience, I recall the curt phrase, “You ask too many questions.” I wondered why it was wrong to ask questions, as I innocently felt the genuine need to know.

So, I grew up with many unanswered questions. Yet, today, I am glad, I did not give up on the quest for knowledge and the ability to analyse the daily input of information to form my own opinions.

It is something I wish more people had the tenacity to maintain from childhood instead of falling into the rut of despondency and hopelessness. Some even think that ignorance is bliss until reality bursts their bubbles of serene wilfull ignorance. This reality is a political one that cannot and will not be ignored as it comes in forms inherent to our daily struggle for survival.

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Whether we have a water or electricity supply is determined by the leaders we put into power to govern us. Whether we can regularly put food on the table for our families is also determined by the powers-that-be in making possible a means to earn a living and obtain a constant income to live on. The price levels of all our basic human needs i.e. food, fuel, clothes, shelter, education, health care and medical treatment hang on the policies and laws instituted by the government of the day.

Whether we speak in whispers and can only express ourselves guardedly, or if we can assemble freely to express a common idea or feeling is also down to what we are allowed to do by the leaders we choose. All these and more are determined by us, the Rakyat, in deciding in whose hands we entrust the power to govern us, democratically and fairly.

Even our feelings of dissatisfaction with our present circumstances or revulsion at the blatant bias of the police who fail to do their duty to uphold the law and protect the public interest is a political thing. Politics is unavoidable.

If, as some say, “politics is dirty”, then by not creating fair play, we are responsible for making it ‘dirty’. Inaction is consent to on-going corruption that makes politics dirty. Politics is what we make it, as it concerns and touches all, regardless of age, race, religion, gender or status. It is for the Rakyat to create a People’s politics, not an elitist, communal, self-serving politicians’ politics.

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Those who reason that human rights is political and choose not to support human rights are the only ones responsible for the violation of their own human rights. One cannot serve two masters with opposing ideologies without becoming a traitor to one of them.

As the time to decide is drawing near, hopefully, we, the Rakyat, will make a decision we will not regret. We have to begin by asking ourselves, “What is not political?” The answer is – NOTHING.

Rakyat Jelata is the pseudonym of a regular contributor to Thinking Allowed Online

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