Taking to the streets will not bring changes


SOME folks want to colour code us. There has been talk that people have been asked to gather in Ipoh and wear black for the much-awaited sitting of the state assembly tomorrow.

By Zainul Arifin (NST)

Just like in neighbouring countries, some want our political activism to be reflected by the shirts we wear.

I am not sure why the colour black was chosen. Ideally, primary colours are preferred, of course, but black is cool, too. But it can be also ominous and threatening. Or are they in mourning?

During the reformasi days in the late 1990s, it was red, copying the Indonesian political activism then that chose the colour as a rallying cry against their government.

Similarly, the Bersih de-monstration chose yellow after the Thai pro-monarch groups.

During the protest march against the use of English for the teaching of Mathematics and Science, the colour of choice was white. It must have cost a lot of money to have all those shirts made.

Apart from the obvious problems brought about by the demonstrations, one would ask what purpose is served by such gatherings.

I hope it is just a show of collective displeasure in the political developments in the state and nothing more than that.

I am rather agnostic about the desire to express anger and dissent by demonstration. As much as I think it is a waste of time — the ballot boxes after all await us sooner or later — I also believe people should be allowed to gather peacefully if they want to.

I subscribe to the idea that some discomfort may be the price to pay for the greater good, just like income tax.

Nevertheless, there will be some people who may perennially be spoiling for trouble. They are the ones likely to push the limits and bait law enforcers. They are essentially troublemakers easily swayed, or used, by savvy politicians who know which of their buttons to push and chains to yank.

One or two key figures have been the constants in all these colourful expression of dissent, though they are seldom in the forefront. They would inevitably, and predictably, be calling for attention after the fact, decrying the treatment some of the demonstrators would receive from the authorities.

But beyond the collective angst that the gathering hopes to display, what else do our black-shirted fellow citizens hope to attain from their mass show of force?

I believe everyone knows the score in Perak. The lines are very clearly drawn. You are either supportive of the Barisan Nasional government or the previous administration.

Do the demonstrators think that by taking to the streets they would change things?

If indeed that is what they are thinking, ala Thailand or the Philippines' people's power, then they are promoting anarchy.

I do not believe, as much as we are divided by our politics and our sense of justice or injustice, we would want anarchy where mobs rule.

Where does it end? There has to be a line drawn somewhere. Sanity must prevail at some point. Someone must say enough is enough.

Do we go on and on, squeezing every single drop of hope from the people, just because we have politicians who believe their sole reason for being is to politicise.

If indeed Pakatan Rakyat feels that they were cheated of the government or that the palace had wrongly awarded the Perak state government to Barisan Nasional, then it should, as it had done, gone to the courts and await judgment.

But do they take to the streets if the courts decide against them, that the courts are wrong, corrupt and working at the behest of the BN?

What if someone were to mobilise a show of strength and got a bunch of people to wear green and show that there are much more of them than tomorrow's crowd?

Do we continue with this ding dong battle till our ears bleed?

This is where things will get complicated. Once suspicion is planted, respect for our institutions systematically destroyed and anarchy promoted, it will be hard to have a semblance of order back. We shall reap what we sow.