Perhaps the cry for freedom from the shackles of 60 years of Umnoputra rule will finally be answered, writes Turtle Shell.
“You change the thinking of the people, things will never be the same again,” one of the protagonists in the struggle against apartheid told the South African liberal journalist, Donald Woods, about the refusal of black South African school children to learn Afrikaan.
As our country moves towards a general election, that sentiment seems all the more relevant in the battle for change in our country.
I make no pretense as to which side of the political divide I am rooting for, but I am not sure how much of the message for change has reached the rural hinterland.
It is good that Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the rest in Bersatu are on the same side as those rooting for change. The critical question is whether they have been able to penetrate the propaganda cocoon the Umnoputras have weaved over the folks in the rural areas.
Are the rural folks still afraid it will be the Democratic Action Party calling the shots should the Pakatan Harapan opposition coalition come to power? Can the rural folks be convinced that a different government other than the Umnoputras will not take away their privileges and benefits?
Let’s not be sneaky about what those of us hoping for change want to see: a more just, democratic and civil society. No thinking rakyat will object to a needs-based helping hand offered by the government. Is this not basic fairness? Once this is in place, one of the basic hurdles of racial integration and harmony in our country will have been removed.
Meanwhile, Haris Ibrahim has just written an open letter saying he is unable to embrace Mahathir’s leadership of the opposition coalition until the former premier fully acknowledges responsibility for the excesses during his tenure.
I have great respect for Haris and the work he has done for the cause of change. I accept his position and that of of those behind the #UndiRosak campaign as part of the political spectrum we can expect of a free society.
These differences even in urban areas suggest that the opposition coalition could face even greater obstacles in the rural areas. If some of the informed rakyat in urban areas are so resistant to change, how about folks in the rural hinterland with less access to independent information?
It is no wonder many neutral political analysts have predicted victory for the Umnoputras in the coming general election [yes, the gerrymandering by the Electoral Commission has also been factored in].
But as they say, hope springs eternal in the human heart. Rafizi’s Invoke work in marginal constituencies; reports that Mahathir’s Bersatu has been able to reach some Felda settlements and die-hard Umno constituencies; anecdotes from acquaintances who have dealings with folks in some semi-rural areas – all these give me a glimmer of hope that a miracle can happen on election night.
Perhaps the cry for freedom from the shackles of 60 years of Umnoputras rule will finally be answered.
Turtle Shell is the pseudonym of a regular reader of Aliran.