Good medicine is often bitter

Dr. Hsu Dar Ren – The Malaysian Insider

In the aftermath of the KT by-election,  alarm bells are ringing in the home of every top BN leader. The writing on the wall is clear – change, or be changed.

I call upon these BN leaders to push for the abolition of ISA and the immediate release of the Hindraf leaders and others detained under the draconian law.

I see this as the base from which all evil arises. With the almost absolute power given to the authorities to detain anyone without trial, this law actually emboldens those who have risen to the top.

As the saying goes, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This absolute power would “corrupt” whoever becomes the top leader, and with such power, sometimes it is convenient for the top leader to forget that he himself comes from the rakyat and should be answerable to the rakyat.

However, whenever this topic is brought up, leaders would answer that even the US is having the Guantanamo camp.

I think this argument is totally flawed.

If the US is wrong, and detention without trial is wrong and against the Universal declaration of Human Rights, does it mean that Malaysia has to follow suit? Why must we follow the ills of other people?

If we want to follow the US, there are many other better areas to do so, such as a free press and the 1st Amendment of protecting free speech.

If the neighbour’s son smokes marijuana, does it mean that it is alright for our children to smoke that, too?

The logic is simple, but as I have mentioned frequently to my blog readers, those who are very high up sometimes cannot see things on the ground clearly.

Secondly, US is fighting a war, a real war against the terrorists. (Even then, in my view, this does not give them the right to detain without trial and can serve only as a mitigating factor.)

Another area of reform should be the abolition of the Printing Presses and Publications Act. To move forward, we must have a freer press, not one that is controlled by the ruling political parties and that spins stories at the whims and fancies of their political masters.

A free press is like a mirror. It gives reflection on what the government and the civil service are doing. It gives the feedback the government of the day needs to take corrective steps early.

Alan Greenspan, in his book “the Age of Turbulence” says his research showed “not a single country in history with a free press and real democracy has suffered famine”.

The PM-in-waiting has mentioned that policies must be tailored to the needs of the people. Without a press that is free to truthfully write what the people say, how can this be achieved?

In a certain way, in Malaysia, the blogosphere has stepped in to fill this vacuum, but in my opinion, since not everyone, including those in the political sphere and the civil service, is good in using the internet, there is really no substitute for a free press.

Corruption, the mother of all evils, must be tackled and tackled hard. In the war against corruption, there cannot be half-hearted measures aimed at hoodwinking or pacifying the people.

There are a few other things that must be done, too. An independent judiciary, a system of meritocracy in schools and civil service and the list goes on.

Unfortunately, the distrust of the people towards the politicians is so great now that even a good initiative is often viewed with the suspicion that there must be some ulterior motive behind it.

The things  mentioned above  are basic to a better society. It is, of course, not easy to change a culture that is so entrenched.

It needs strong political will and true leadership to overhaul the whole system. It is like a ill person; there is no other choice but to seek treatment.

Good medicine is often bitter. There is really no other substitute but to swallow the bitter pill if we want to get well. And time is running out.