Sunday, March 1, 2009

What’s In Your Handphone?

Here’s a radical thought: invest not in your government. In any government. Vote for the ones you think best serve the people, the ideals, the rights, the equality upon which democracy rests, all this to be sure. But place your real investments, your rallies, your vigils, your microscope on those institutions which are intended to keep your government in check.

Your courts.

Your media. Including the computer screen in front of you.

Your election commission.

Your police.

Your anti-corruption agency, in whatever name it brands itself tomorrow.

Governments will come and go, and some will be better than others, but these, these are the barometers of democracy. These are what define our democracy, and be it the truth that I believe it is, our report card isn’t too flashy.

The mainstream media brands the man who stands up to protect his wheelchair-bound father from street thugs akin to one convicted of road rage. The Election Commission places by-elections in a place particularly convenient for the Umno elections. The riot police charge peaceful demonstrations – including one in the middle of singing the national anthem.

And the anti-corruption agency? The Star reports on the chief commisioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission:

“Ahmad Said has been attacked in blogs and via e-mail over the issue of his son bringing child pornographic material into Australia. His son, a pilot, pleaded guilty and paid a fine for the offence.

Ahmad Said vehemently denied that it was child pornography. He said that the titles of the video clips found in his son’s laptop computer were misleading.

‘I can bet with you that it’s something that you will find on most men’s handphones,’ he said.”

Now it is true that his son’s actions need not reflect on the Ahmad Said as the chief commissioner. What it reflect is he as a father.

What does reflect badly on him as chief commissioner is that he supports his son pleading guilty to a crime that according to him is “misleading”. Mind me asking, since it is apparently not child pornography, what else it could be that one would risk one’s reputation pleading guilty to child pornography? Who are these ‘most men’ that Ahmad Said knows, and here’s the obvious: is he himself one of them?

Is it any wonder that there is public scepticism. To which he replies: “This is an issue of perception. We will prove our consistency by our actions.”

In the challenge of Ahmad Said: I’ll bet.

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