Sunday, April 13, 2008

Freedom to dream

"chinesemsian1" wrote:

Freedom to dream
Sivananthi Thanentiran

EVERYTHING seems to have changed since March 8. There is a buzz in the
air that I haven't felt for a long time. People are talking politics
everywhere. By politics I do not mean the gossip that permeates offices
and houses but real politics � the art and science of government.

Today, in the kopitiams people are talking about the necessity of local
government elections � and for the first time the materialisation of
this seems to be more than possible. For the first time in my life,
people were debating the composition of a state exco. A year ago, the
average Ali on the road would have balked at the word and today the word
is being bandied by everyone. For the first time in many years, the
royal houses decided they needed to have a say on how their states were
being run and by whom.

For the first time ever, people became aware that every state had its
own constitution and they were interested in finding out about how these
documents were similar or different from each other.

Suddenly, and to everyone's delight, there was a brand new Malaysian
in town. This was a Malaysian with an opinion, who wants to express his
opinion and demands his opinion be taken into consideration. This was a
Malaysian who felt that she wanted to be part of the politics of this
country. She wants to know more and she is willing to roll up her
sleeves and be part of this process. And as the days unfold, this
Malaysian is standing up everywhere. For the first time, we as a nation,
are actually saying that we are comfortable with the idea of dispersing
power throughout society. For me, this is the essence of this year's
elections.

Traditionally, Malaysians have been most comfortable with the idea of
having one person or one body responsible for governing the destiny of
the country and through it � all our destinies. This seems to have
worked thus far. But the global scenario increasingly pressurises
Malaysia to be competitive on a wider scale. Becoming a global player
also brings with it varieties of challenges to the nation, that no one
person or one body can overcome adequately. It is only fitting, at this
juncture in history, that the nation disperses its power to many
centres.

Change, it is said, is the only law of life. Everything in nature points
to the fact that adapting to change is necessary for survival. Sometimes
even genetically so. Similarly, the nation has decided to adapt and
change in order to survive. Multiple centres of power are necessary for
survival: different agencies and bodies invested with power to act can
achieve more than just one body and this bodes well for all of us. More
importantly in this diversification of power, ordinary citizens have
also accepted (to a certain degree) that the power lies within them to
make things work and be responsible for action. I think we have passed
the days where we thought the government could make life better for us.
Today we know, we can make life better for ourselves. We have to.

For the first time in so many years, I am inspired. In the past year,
much of my time has been spent surfing the net for a suitable suburb
Down Under because all my friends were talking about doing the big
`M'. Migration, that is, not marriage. In the past year, I have
also been following closely the very exciting American primaries where a
black man and a white woman are neck and neck to clinch the Democratic
party's nomination for the highest post in the only remaining
superpower. And wondering all the time that it may well be possible for
a migrant Indian woman, in the next 100 years, to be President of the
United States. Today, I don't have to look to America and say
"dreams are possible" because I actually think that my children will be
able to dream and aspire to be the best in the country in which they,
their parents, their grandparents, and even their great-grandparents
were born.

Isn't this simply liberating? And how liberty completely transforms
individuals. The freedom to be able to choose, to live, to love and to
dream are as fundamental to the human soul as a roof over our heads,
food on our plates and clothes on our backs. We create the future by
being able to visualise it; by being able to imagine it; by being able
to dream about it. Whether we are able to create a future which is
better than the present is dependent on our abilities to dream the
impossible and strive to achieve it in our daily life. Human progress
hinges upon the ability of people to dream.

I am not saying that we Malaysians were not "free" before. Of course we
were. But perhaps we took our freedoms for granted. And we were willing
to give these "intangible" freedoms up, for rice and curry, three times
a day. To be fair it was not only rice and curry, it was for schools,
hospitals, immunisations, job opportunities, housing, roads,
electricity, water and sewerage. What we didn't realise is that when
we gave up our little freedoms, we also started chiselling away at the
power we held. Because the nexus of freedom and power is that which
gives the individual sovereignty over his own existence and his own
destiny. This month has been energising: new possibilities and new
choices are available to all Malaysians. There is a different course we
can pursue as a nation. And it seems that we are bold enough to try. We
are bold enough to be powerful, to be free, to hope, to dream and to
act.

The writer is a communications consultant who works on gender, urban
governance and transparency issues. Comments: feedback@...

--- End forwarded message ---

*****.*****

Daripada Abu Umarah iaitu al-Bara' bin 'Azib radhiallahu anhuma, katanya: "Kita semua diperintah oleh Rasulullah s.a.w. untuk melakukan tujuh perkara, iaitu meninjau orang sakit, mengikuti janazah, menentasymitkan orang yang bersin, menolong orang yang lemah, membantu orang yang teraniaya, meratakan salam dan melaksanakan sumpah."

(Muttafaq 'alaih)

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