Despite Umnoputras’ grip on power, wisps of change in the air

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Women gather at Padang Merbok ahead of a march to Parliament

The effort to create a climate of fear, which the Umnoputras so desperately want to inculcate, has been a failure, observes Mt Elvira.

“In the depths of winter is the promise of spring” – perhaps not the exact words but I recall this saying meant to encourage a weary soul as he/she struggles with adversity. As I survey our country’s political landscape and as my heart grows weary with despair, I try to stir up optimism from within.

This year had seen two momentous world events that many an analyst had dismissed as unlikely before they became facts of history: Brexit and Donald Trump as the next President of the United States.

In our country, the grip on power by MO1 seems unshakeable and all the more fearful. The misuse of Sosma on political dissent has come to pass, as had been predicted by opponents of that law from the beginning.

Rafizi and Tony Pua have been jailed [though with their appeals pending, they have not lost their seats]. And it looks as if Lim Guan Eng may already have a cell in Sungai Buloh reserved for him. We have Azmin, Anwar, Muhyiddin and God-knows-who else-among opposition ranks who still believe Pas still has the agenda of change on its political vision.

The peninsula-based opposition in Sabah and Sarawak have seen their ranks decimated by state-based loyalties and a resentment of Big Brother central control from the peninsula.

Yes, I agree if I am accused of being a pessimist. The fact is when everything should be falling in place for change to take place in our country – change towards a more fair, just civil and democratic society – we see that prospect getting further and further away.

The heady days after the political tsunami of 2008 are no more; they are now only a distant memory. There is no united opposition, and in all likelihood when the next general election is called, it will be a free for all, and I fear the BN will sneak in with a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Glimmers of hope

And so, as I speak out my gloomy forebodings, in a corner of my heart, I think back to that promise of spring. I know it is not all mis-steps by the opposition in our country. There are some wisps of change in the air.

Amanah has that promise of a face of Islam that the late Tok Guru Nik Aziz portrayed to the non-Muslim rakyat that endeared him so much to us. Yet, it remains to be seen if the hardcore and extremist stand of the current Pas leadership will hold sway over their core of loyal rural voters or if the more humane face of Amanah will be given a chance, come GE14.

Young student activists have burst into the national political scene. They hold out the hope that the brainwashing and climate of fear inculcated by the Umnoputras have not been totally successful. The Adams and Anises among our youth show that all is not lost, that there are those among the younger generation who can see what a slippery and dangerous slope the Umnoputras are currently taking us.

Bersih 5 may not rival its other versions in terms of numbers; yet its current version has an extensive reach, which is crucial. The rakyat in the rural hinterlands have been exposed to Bersih, and all of us are aware that it will be rakyat there who will tip the scale over the critical mass required to realise the agenda of change.

The unjust detention of Maria Chin under Sosma appeared to have touch a raw nerve among the rakyat. It mattered not whether only 60,000 [the high end of estimates] rakyat walked with Bersih 5.

The important thing is that the climate of fear the Umnoputras so desperately want to inculcate has been a failure. The support shown during the candle light vigils across the country against the detention of Maria Chin must have caught even that boastful ‘Tweeter king’ on a wrong footing.

Perhaps to the Umnoputras, all this is clutching at straws – by all accounts, their hold on power looks invincible. Yet, looking at how unexpectedly Brexit and Trump’s election victory played out, we can still believe a new spring is not impossible.

Mt Elvira is the pseudonym of a regular reader of Aliran.

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Thuraisingham Shan
6 Dec 2016 11.37pm

With the nymber of Bangalas crreping in sion will be Banglaputras