GE13: In pursuit of the better society

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Change is more than winning majorities and claiming political office. The harder part is bring about a lasting, progressive alternative that prioritises the needs of people while resisting the blackmail demands of neoliberal forces, says John Hilley.

Photo credit: hazuism.blogspot.com

Finally, a landmark election moment for courageous, resilient Malaysians who now see before them not only the possible prized deliverance from a venal, repressive government, but the political and social cleansing of their country.

Whatever the outcome, I hope your vote counts towards the emergence of something new and remarkable, something historic, something your children will remember you for in seeking to cast out not just a decaying party, a motley coalition, but an entire system of money politics and institutional corruption.

Predictably, every last resource, every dark trick, from electoral fraud and media bias to outright violence and intimidation, has been wielded to protect and preserve the ruling network.

All of which illustrates the seismic challenge of not only overcoming those determined forces, but in looking hopefully beyond them.

Serious change involves much more than winning majorities and taking over political offices. That may be a vital, momentous step.

The longer, harder task lies in constructing a progressive and radical alternative, one that doesn’t depend on the weight of component parties, the placating of sectoral interests or even the voices of charismatic leaders.

Crucially, it must also find ways of resisting the blackmail demands of neoliberal forces and the tempting incorporations of external state powers.

In short, it requires an entirely new and expansive mindset, energised by the fundamental needs of people: putting human beings before big business, social need before corporate greed, public health before private wealth, sustainable life before eco-destruction.

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In that optimistic vein, a small dedication to all those at Aliran and tireless Malaysian activists like Anil Netto who have worked and campaigned so relentlessly for decades not only in pursuit of electoral change and a just constitution, but for every aspect of the truly better society.

That humanitarian spirit will, hopefully, continue to be the guiding, moral force that, whatever the parliamentary numbers, keeps conscientious Malaysians striving towards the highest prize of all: a participatory politics built on real economic compassion and social justice.

Glasgow-based Dr John Hilley is the author of Malaysia: Mahathirism, Hegemony and the New Opposition (London: 2001). He blogs at johnhilley.blogspot.com

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