After years of slumber, the guarantees contained in Malaysia’s most important document is slowly rising like a phoenix from the ashes to shine into the hearts and minds of ordinary Malaysians.
The recent by-elections have shown this to be true.
The Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) President George Chan said that he does not know why voters in Sibu rejected the SUPP. He intends to conduct a post-mortem.
Ibrahim Ali claims that the Chinese are ungrateful for not voting Barisan despite the many election goodies thrown at them.
The Prime Minister believes that the Barisan machinery in Sibu moved in old and traditional ways and that the coalition needed to be more creative and energetic.
No need for post-mortems because instead of someone dying, something has come alive instead.
No need for blame games, the only way is forward.
No point having energy and creativity without a true purpose.
The fact is this.
In a wave that has begun with the Chinese and Christians all over Malaysia, voters are voting with enlightened minds inspired by the drive to see to it that Constitutional guarantees are met.
Thanks to initiatives such as the MyConstitution campaign by Bar Council’s Constitutional Law Committee to simplify the Federal Constitution and to reach out to 6 million households, Malaysians are no longer ignorant about their most precious of rights.
The promise of a new bridge will no longer guarantee you a man’s vote unless you can guarantee that he can assemble his friends and walk freely in a group across that bridge without first having to seek police permission.
The promise of a new school will no longer guarantee you a man’s vote unless you can guarantee that his child is entering an education system that is blind to colour but alive to need.
The offer of millions of ringgit for development will no longer guarantee you a man’s vote unless you can guarantee that his freedom to enjoy that development will never be taken away without due process.
The promise of three million ringgit for missionary schools will no longer guarantee you a man’s vote unless you can guarantee him that he can practice his religion freely without restrictions such as on the words he uses.
The promise of a flood mitigation system will not guarantee you a man’s vote because he realizes that he has, in the first place, a fundamental right to live safely and freely without having to worry about floods.
The fact that two polling centres were forced to open an hour late last Sunday because the Rejang River broke its banks is illustrative of this. Voters who had to wait for the waters to recede must have wondered why they were unable to exercise their right to vote because a necessity like a flood mitigation system was not already in place.
Money for this flood mitigation system should not be a problem given the fact that millions upon millions are poured into significantly less urgent matters like defence spending and not one but two Formula One teams.
Until and unless the BN begins to let itself be guided by the Constitution, it will continue to bleed support.
Eventually, the spread of Constitutional awareness and the demand that its guarantees are implemented will engulf the hearts and minds of every person of every race in Malaysia.
Young people of various races are already walking around in the sweltering heat reading newspapers upside down in protest against the lack of press freedom in the country. High achievers of all races living overseas are demanding for meritocracy and equal opportunity before they return.
Non-governmental organizations comprising of members from all races are calling for reforms with fiercer urgency. Every day cases are being filed in the courts by people of different races challenging laws and decisions on Constitutional grounds.
The spirit of Constitutional guarantees will outlive the laws and policies that seek to stifle them.
It may take awhile but there will come a day when all who stand against the fundamental liberties will be marginalised.
The outcome of the next general election will be greatly influenced by how much the Government is willing to ensure that the guarantees of the Federal Constitution are afforded to all citizens without being diluted by laws and policies contrary to its spirit.
This is the bridge over the troubled waters faced by the current administration. The question is whether it is willing to brave the trouble waters within its own camp in order to construct the bridge.
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