Monday, August 25, 2008

What’s wrong with an honest and corruption-free government?

I’m an immaculate political observer, to begin with. I strongly advise myself not to be politically partisan to any group, although, sometimes, as ordinary human I am, I do demonstrate political preference. I take no side in any political ideologies, though from time to time I am tempted to endorse or reject some of them. I firmly stand in the middle path of neutrality to political statements and stances, but occasionally I disapprove or agree with them. I always preconceive the thought that everybody, including politicians, is sincere until proven otherwise although it is inevitable to prejudge someone to his prejudice. Where does all this defence statements lead us to?

I found articles concerning the bold actions of the ACA in chasing corrupt high-ranking government officers and how certain politicians are supportive of the move. A moment ago, I read in the paper that the two Perak Exco members will be charged in the Sessions Court on 25 August. Notwithstanding all these developments, I still found voices criticising the move by ACA and the intention of these politicians. The reason, all those actions are futile as it is impossible to have an honest and corruption-free government.

I laud this action by the ACA and the moral support given by some of the politicians. It shows that they are determined to restore the confidence of the public to the government. On the issue of an honest and corruption-free government, I must first concede that this is impossible to attain. Not even one single government that stands on this globe is perfectly honest and free from corruption epidemic. But hey, everybody knows that, even the DAP Secretary-General cum Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng readily admitted that corruption is impossible to be rid off, but at least the rate could be reduced. Reasonably speaking, we know that the bona fide belief held by everyone about a utopia government is beyond realistic grasp and I’m particularly sure, being a learned and wise nation, I assume that we perfectly understands that it is only an ideal dream.

I am not saying that this ambition of creating an honest and corruption-free government should be dismissed. It is not frivolous and vexatious enough to be summarily renounced. We have long live under a so called ‘corrupt regime’ that, to my humble opinion, we are unable to envisage the situation of being in a relatively honest and corruption-free government. We are so used to indulge in the corrupt world that easily caused us to ridicule any attempt by some persons to get the society out of the dark world. What is wrong with a clean and fair government? I thought that is what we are asking for, as evidenced in the recently concluded result of the General Election which according to political analysts, a signal sent to the government demonstrating our unhappiness over the corruption that taking its toll on the country. I guess the maxim that goes around is true. People would rather approve wicked and abominable acts instead of staunch steps; we really like to condemn or scorn godly moves that sometimes we declare the wicked blameless and the innocent guilty, or, if you don’t like the way I put it, we always feel reluctant and indifferent or sometimes scornful to certain noble actions.

It is reflective of the ACA’s and some politicians’ objective to do the impossible or to do things that most people and politicians would be reluctant to deal with. It is a fact that politics is filthy and undeniably the politicians themselves do indulge in dirty practices, but that does not necessarily mean that all politicians not trustworthy. We have long prayed for politicians with integrity to stand in the political plane; now we have a few people on the stage, give them a chance to prove that the idea of a utopia honest and incorrupt government could, at the very least, be relatively translated into reality. To those who are always indifferent and scornful, I guess it is the time to brace yourselves because we might experience a positive governmental transformation; perhaps, let’s pray for it.
I remember reading a book which discussed the history, drafting process, salient features, emergence as well as the Malaysian orthodox understanding of our glorious Federal Constitution. It’s a revelation to learn all these basic things of our Constitution. It is certainly an eye-opener to understand how the great document is instrumental in orchestrating the spirit of tolerance among the various races of this land, as well as its undeniable successive roles in keeping all the various organs and the people in Malaysia in good terms, although it is understandable that it can’t in any way perfectly become the problem-fixer to some of the issues hovering in the air. I guess being a law student has rendered me unable to appreciate the social impact of the Constitution upon our life and relations with each other. In constitutional law we learn more of the legal aspects of the document instead of its basic aims in steering this country.

My reading particularly touched on the issue of affirmative action as provided for under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution. Stances and opinions were espoused as to the relevancy of the action in today’s context and its effectiveness in reaching the goal it was meant to achieve. I was really interested in the public’s position of this particular provision of our Constitution.

My mind suddenly visited the recent event that took place in front of an MB’s office. A multitude of people was gathering in defence of Article 153 and all benefits patronised by it. Well, as Art 10(1)(a) and (b) says, everyone has the right to freedom of speech, expression and peaceful assembly. I may disapprove your action but I shall defend your rights.

Arh, let me put this right; I recognise the rights to peacefully aseemble but the last time I checked, Section 27 of the Police Act criminalises an assembly without permit of more than 5 people. If I’m not mistaken, the BERSIH protestors were charged in court for their demonstration. Revisiting the recent demonstration orchestrated by some ‘leaders’, I’m not sure whether the demonstration obtained a permit or not. And I seemed unable to appreciate the fact that any of the demonstrators are slapped with criminal charge; most probably because there is no action taken? One question: are we moving forward and being more appreciative to our rights as enumerated in Art 10(1)(b) or…? It’s rhetoric, by the way

Back to the main discussion, I believe in affirmative action but on a different basis, not similar to the belief held by most of the benefits-receivers of this action. To me affirmative action should only be employed to help the needy, not the people who do not really need it. Who then deserve to reap the benefits of such affirmative action? Those who are unable to stand on their on feet of course, at least metaphorically speaking; this is owing to the fact of absence of sound financial support or any other means to continue their social survival. Those who are seemingly “can’t stand on their on feet” should not be quick to be accorded with the assistance found in the affirmative action. If they can work their arse off and earn something without assistance, then by all means, they should be encouraged to take such step.

Oh, before we harbour this article and end our voyage of reading, a quick response to my own question. Folks, when it comes to the issue of transgression of the law, don’t show favour, please. Nobody likes it when the law is capable of being enforced unfairly and is only enforced to certain groups of people while the others who commit the same crime escape punishment. Remember government’s studies 101: a democratic government is a government by law, not by men.

And I swear...

‘I swear that this writing is wholly mine and you should neither question nor attempt to check whether this entry is authentically written by me.’

Imagine if you encounter an article exclaimed as such, would you just blindly accept the statement and choose not to verify whether the article is actually written by the ‘writer’ or it is actually plagiarised? Oxford University in 2006 reported that plagiarism is the rampant unethical conduct committed by most students. Students who are caught plagiarising always bail themselves out by throwing reasons such as they do not have time to actually sit and write the article or that they don’t know that plagiarising is wrong; lame excuses. On the first premise, everyone is given 24 hours a day and as far as I concerned a lot of people get to do a lot of things within that period; secondly, are they living in the Ice Age? People, the last time I checked the INTERNET did store news quoting authorities that criminalises plagiarism. In short, no excuse could absolve these culprits from their wrong.

Oh by the way, I don’t easily buy it when writers cry and swear that their articles or their works are authentically written by them, not until I have verified the claim and there is a score of evidence to corroborate the claim. Too bad folks, I don’t believe your sworn statement merely by observing your lips.

Notwithstanding that, it seems that a new trend has emerged in Malaysia that could be perceived as an easy way out to exonerate oneself from the wrong allegedly committed. Yup, it seems to suggest that to find out the truth we just need the accused person to swear, denying his or her attachment to the wrong alleged and lo and behold, the accused person’s name is clear. Further action is no longer needed to verify whether the sworn statement is really warranted or not. Further investigation? It’s an ancient history now. I’m not a religious person but sadly nowadays even religion cannot skip from being manipulated by certain quarters of people for their own benefit. I’m not in a position to judge any sworn statement uttered by anybody but I certainly against the idea that once swearing, the person swearing is deemed to have been telling the truth; it’s a blind faith my dear and I don’t favour blind faith. Truth is never baseless; it is always supported by concrete evidence. Swearing does not suggest that concrete evidence present. Swearing is not the requisite for concrete evidence to present but instead the present of concrete evidence is the requisite to the truth.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What would you believe?

“If you want to know the truth, you have to believe it,” that’s the X-Files’ tagline. I watched X-Files last week and frankly, I have to admit that I was disappointed; disappointed with the profound simplicity of the storyline and the lack or rather the dimming significance of the X-Files’ factor. I tried to believe that it was a good movie but I just can’t. My cognitive faculty just won’t compromise with the fall of the quality of X-Files.

I’m also unable to dance to the music of X-Files’ tagline. How am I suppose to believe the so-called truth if there is nothing to concretely suggest that what I am about to believe is actually worth to be believed? I’m not a religious person and I don’t appear religious; well at least to those who have corrupted the concept of religious by associating religiousness with long beard, the ability to memorize the decrees and commands of the Holy Book and other features that are clearly human-invented; but I can proudly preach to the world what faith actually means. It is not of simple blind belief per se; to a certain degree faith is reasonable and is supported by evidence. People believe that there is a God because they can see the wonderful universe; since everything has a creator, it is reasonable that the universe also has a creator and the Creator is God. Students have faith that they can do well in their final exams because their on-going assessments tell them that they can do well in their final. We believe because there is a reason to believe, and X-Files successfully failed to supply any concrete reason to persuade me to believe that it is a good movie.

X-Files- good movie- just believe it? It just doesn’t tally. This frustration then brings me to another question. How do we actually form our belief? Is it really based on reasons or in one way or another we lie to ourselves and just coerce ourselves to believe what we want to believe? For years I held on to Disney Channel’s tagline, “you can do it if you believe,” So whenever I was about to engage in something that seemed difficult and impossible for me, I always forced myself to believe that I could do it. Sometimes, it worked, if luck was on my side. However, most of the time, I could always become Hulk or any other superheroes whose life is filled with rage and frustration.

Let me put this straight first before we go on further. It has always been my principle to form my faith based on reasons; though I know to a certain extent reasons can’t always explain everything. But being a vulnerable and simple Joe Blogg, I quite frequently defy the principle that I hold on to. In spite of the availability of reasons and evidence to suggest the opposite, I normally choose to believe that I can do what I dream to do.

I’m a positivist and perhaps that explains the transgression of the principle. For this particular fight that I recently engaged in, I was told in advance that my path would be very gravelling. I was informed that Giants would stand in my way and Doraemon couldn’t do much but only help me and my partners in crime to get prepared in a short period of time. I knew of my ability and coupled with the fact that my partners have the necessary knowledge concerning the thing that we would engage in; I suggested to myself that we could do it. It was reasonable and possible to think that we could do it. But life is not like the Hindustan’s movies or any of Barbie’s fairy tales; not everything would work to our expectation.

With the faith that we could actually do it, we entered the battlefield and fought our fight. Nevertheless, when the result came, I could see that I wasn’t David at all. I could be Samson but I was never a David. My invisible swords could not even give one of our enemy giants a single significant bruise. The evidence pointed out to the fact that the juries were not impressed with the beauty of our swords and the fighting skills that we portrayed. Sitting at the comfortable Honda’s couch, I tried to figure out why we failed. I had a hard time digesting the fact that we failed to beat the giants. Though the evidence clearly suggested to the contrary, I still tried miserably to believe that I did better than them. In frustration, I violated my principle.

For the past two weeks I forced myself to believe that I could do well in the fight that I would engage in; for a fortnight I coerced myself to believe that I could surf up over the other participants and emerge to the top. For fourteen days I tried to believe that we could make people proud of us. For 336 hours I carefully crafted the faith, but it only took seconds to annihilate the dream. In one shot, two sets of law brought me to my knees. The law of gravity backfired me while the natural law thrust me to the corner.

Now I know why people like the phrase “you can do it if you believe”; it gives you hope but not necessarily a living hope. Hope is what gets many people going; hope is what made people believe and do crazy things; hope inspires, resurrects and comforts us. People would just do almost everything to get it; too bad when hope is founded on a wrong premise. So I guess that leaves me with a couple of questions:

  1. Do I really believe based on reasons or do I just believe to appease myself?
  2. Even if I have plenty of reasons to corroborate my belief, what do I actually believe in?