FMT LETTER: From Clarence Sim,via e-mail
Catch-22 was one of the books I read when I was in secondary school. It was tough to make any association to my life or surrounding back then, but the plot seems much more apparent these days.
I was caught off guard by the tear gas canisters being fired, round after round, at Masjid Jamek area. I kept asking my friends, “Did you hear any warning siren?” And all I got was a negative shake of the head .
Tear gas was first used in 1914 and largely during World War I. Although the substance was much more hazardous than what we experienced on Saturday, it is still questionable as humane technique to disperse a crowd.
The substance can remain air-borne for some time and can travel depending on wind direction. The common effects include extreme irritation to the eyes, itching sensation in the mouth and nostrils, burning sensation in lungs and skin, and difficulty breathing.
Yes, some protesters broke through the barricades and headed towards Dataran Merdeka. No, it still does not warrant the police or the Federal Reserve unit to fire tear gas canisters or spray water cannons at them. There should be a less confrontational approach to handling a handful of rowdy protesters. More so amid innocent protesters and media personnel.
After this ordeal, what have we achieved? Did we make our voice heard? The sad truth is that the ruling government will go on their merry way to do exactly the same thing they did all this while.
Like the last rally as well as any high profile corruption cases, they will be swept under the carpet in due time. In fact, it has already happened on a daily basis with our mainstream media, censoring out any unwanted news by portraying a flying colour government.
To be honest, the majority of us don’t have a clue as to what can we do to change the dire predicament we are in, other than collect more certificates, rise in our jobs, and invest against inflation.
With a clean and fair election, where will that lead us? Ideally, it will promise only candidates who garner the most voters be elected (unbiased electoral roll, no gerrymandering or other technical foul play, fair election process).
Presumably these candidates are voted in based on their credibility, merits and ability to serve their constituencies, crucial policies will be discussed to ensure the fundamental elements for a healthy nation is in place and of competitive standards – education, healthcare, food and borders security, etc.
Take our education for instance I agree that PTPTN should be abolished, for in today’s economy, tertiary education is commonly understood as “a mean to an end”. Thus to eradicate poverty and dependency on state’s subsidies, education must be free and accessible for all.
However, making it free is not sufficient, the entire education system has to be thoroughly examined to ensure it can encourage learning and thinking that will subsequently motivate productivity as well as innovations. Therefore regardless of who takes over Putrajaya next, they better have a clear and concise plan to these pertinent public’s concerns.
Meanwhile we, the people, too have to be clear of what exactly we want as a healthy and fair developed nation, and actively participate in shaping our nation beyond the teh tarik talk shop, FB postings, tweet and blog.
I myself have taken the time and effort to read and understand what was presented, analyse them critically, attend trainings and forums, be part of a rally or assembly, educate those around me and engage in discussion, and volunteer to be a PACA for the next election. Still, these are not enough.
I believe we can do more and simply uncertain what exactly at this moment. The 55-year oppressed regime has made us inactive and disempowered, and that is perhaps their intention. It will be tough to outsmart them in a short period, but I believe we have the capability to do that if we first outsmart our own complacency and irresponsiveness.
Take charge of your country by first taking charge of shaping your own life – not what your state, institution or family wants – but what you want!