Reformasi 2.0: The rise of Bangsa Malaysia

by Syerleena Abdul Rashid

I woke up on Saturday, 8 March 2014, still trying to comprehend what transpired the previous day – the Court of Appeal verdict on Anwar’s sodomy case.

After the guilty verdict was confirmed, many of us were unable to digest the level of absurdity exhibited.

You would think 15 years would be enough to make them realise the mistakes of the past and that they would buck up and think of better ways to deal with people who do not agree with their biased ideologies.

It doesn’t take a lawyer to understand the state of our judicial system today. If anything, the outcome has upset the 51 per cent of Malaysians who voted for change – and the numbers will continue to rise!

‘Reformasi 2.0′ is no longer about the plight of one man. This is about elections on an unlevel playing field and broken promises. This is also about showing them that Malaysians can think for ourselves; we know right from wrong and we will not be bullied into submission.

Democracy for Malaysians died a long time ago. It died when the ruling elite decided to decapitate the system by unlawfully sacking honourable judges whose independence could not be bought.

The numerous scandals, corruption, deaths in custody and the never-ending opposition witch hunt are episodes to remind Malaysians that our judicial system needs a complete overhaul if we are to see democracy arise from the ashes of present day tyranny.

Like most Malaysians, the feeling of anguish and frustration overwhelmed me – I felt lost. Many of us were angry and scared by the verdict.

We were and still are angry because the select few can get away with it. The astronomical wealth that they’ve managed to accumulate over the past decades by riding on our blood, sweat and tears leaves a gaping pain in our hearts.

We are angry because the system can be efficient – if it benefits the select few.

We are angry because crime has risen and we see fellow Malaysians persecuted because there is a glitch in the system.

We want our leaders to focus on real pressing issues such as the rising cost of living, our education system, and other issues of public concern.

We are also scared as this verdict has far-reaching implications for basic human rights.

The system that is enshrined to protect us from wrong is flawed. We are not safe; in fact, no one really is unless you have some spare change to throw around.

We don’t.

Some of us can’t even afford to repay our student loans or medical insurance. Our graduates are unable to secure jobs and many continue to leave Malaysia because of our flawed system.

We are scared because our leaders can misuse the system to cow us into submission and silence our voices.

We want to change this but the powers that be will continue to deny us our basic rights. This is a challenge we will have to overcome – together. Reformasi 2.0 marks the beginning of Bangsa Malaysia.

You see, there is a difference. This is not 1999. Malaysians have already proven that we can unite as one, regardless of ethnicity and gender, to defend our rights.

We have four years to ensure that tyranny will be a thing of the past and four years is enough for Malaysians to influence the system and bring democracy back to our nation!

* Syerleena Abdul Rashid, an Aliran member, is a water sports instructor and part-time postgraduate student in tourism development. The views expressed in this article are the personal opinion of the columnist and this article first appeared in Aliran. 

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