Thursday, March 6, 2008

An open letter to ALL Malaysians…

... from former Bar Council president Yeo Yang Poh, on the eve of the General Election.

Dear Fellow Malaysians,

It is true that there are things that we Malaysians should be proud of, and be thankful for. It is equally true that many things are not well in our country. They have not been well for some time now. Matters of safety and security, price hikes, education, issues of equal opportunities and equal treatment, constriction of various forms of freedom, marginalization of several segments of society, the failing justice system, corruption in the public sector, the rising denial syndromes, the arrogance of wrongdoers nourished by their repeated ability to get off scot-free, and the numbness of the public reaction towards misdeeds and the lack of accountability, just to describe a few.

Many of the ills that we complain about in our society are the symptoms of the underlying causes. Some of the major root causes are: (a) epidemic corruption in a system that does little to prohibit or redress it, (b) lack of a system of transparency and accountability, (c) the suppression of various freedoms so as to turn a silent majority into a silenced majority, (d) a Government that is more interested in commanding than serving, (e) a Parliament whose overwhelming majority cares more about power-consolidation than nation-building, and (f) a weak "last bastion" in the form of a failing justice system.

Can things be allowed to go on this way? Can we afford to do so? Should our future generations suffer the consequences of our permissiveness? It is quite obvious that we need a better Government and a better Parliament. But that will not happen if we, the citizens of Malaysia, do little more than blaming the Government and criticizing our Members of Parliament. It is we who put our MPs in the Parliament. It is we who must take the ultimate responsibility. The buck stops at each and every one of us.

My earnest appeal to everyone is therefore as follows:

* discuss the need for a better Parliament and a better Government, with your family members, colleagues, friends and persons close to you;

* make it a point to go and vote in the next election, and to vote for change and for betterment;

* discard the notion or excuse that your single vote will not matter;

* discard the notion or excuse that politics is dirty and all politicians are the same, and therefore that there is no point in voting;

* influence and encourage as many of your family members, colleagues, friends and persons close to you as possible, to come out and vote for change and for betterment in the coming election.

It is meaningless for us to complain about our Parliamentarians and the Government, if we do not first discharge a simple but sacrosanct duty of choice.

Let us all take the time to look into the beautiful but expectant eyes of our children, and of the children of many others for whom we care. The future of our nation is meant for them. But millions of them cannot vote. They put their fate in our hands. They rely on us not just for their present living and support. They rely on us, too, to vote for a better future for them.

And after discharging our duty to vote, we must continue to be vigilant, and ensure that our elected representatives account for their actions, and make good their promises.

I humbly suggest to you that change and betterment are not empty dreams, if all of us play our respective parts. I invite you, and I urge you, to answer my appeal as set out above.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Yeo Yang Poh
Advocate & Solicitor,
& a concerned Malaysian

February 28, 2008

[Photo courtesy of Jeff Ooi/Screenshots]