Depressing Yet Pressing Issue; Using The Press To Oppress?

Years ago, a veteran told me that Malaysian politics is mainly about the politics of issues. It was because the rakyat mentality was immature politically that issues could be created or blown out of proportion to rally the masses in whichever direction the propaganda machinery deemed fit.

With the advent of Mahathirism, issues were created and publicized only when Mahathir dictated so; major cases in point being the 1988 Constitutional Crisis that resulted in the emasculation of the Judiciary and the 1993 Monarchy crisis that did the Royals in.

The rakyat was still willing to vote Barisan Nasional in with more than 2/3 majority, GE in and GE out because the economy was thriving; the NEP was in full bloom and no one was going without. The non-Malays were resigned to the effects of affirmative action and had all but given up at the ballot box.

I suppose abuses were not as blatant then although corruption and cronyism were already big concerns…the massive privatization and corporatizing exercises of government institutions, the IPPs, the toll hikes, the prime land conversions, the Daim machinations, etc. all affected our pockets without commensurating increase in service levels nor benefits. But we could at least see signs of development as in the Twin Towers, KLIA, Putrajaya, and other monuments. While most people dared only whisper about their displeasure, none had the guts nor to be fair, the platform to shout too loud and long.

There was a pervading fear of litigation and the partiality of the judiciary. As organizations go, Aliran led by Chandra Muzzafar seemed to be the only one which dared to voice out and it had its publishing permit yanked a few times. The Aliran Monthly was a sort of Malaysiakini in the way that no issue was too hot for it to report.

Two individuals stood out and both were journalists; the late K. Das and that forerunner of our Raja Petra Kamarudin, the late MGG Pillai. Yes! RPK had a predecessor! Neither lawsuit nor harassment could stop MGG Pillai and in the aftermath of the Correct! Correct! Correct! fiasco we know he had no chance with the defamation suits he faced. I am glad MGG Pillai discovered the Internet before he passed away in 2006. His blog was the Malaysia Today of its day!