Malaysia on Bastille Day

It’s Bastille Day today.

In 1789 Malacca was a Dutch port, and most of Malaya unpopulated. In France the peasants started a revolution by storming a Paris prison. Don’t expect people in KL to storm Pudu Jail anytime soon, not with the roadblocks anyway.

If Hamid Albar read books, would he have imagined today today not yesterday would be the day for demonstrations.

What are the lessons of the Bastille.

Though the Bastille was almost two decades after the colonials dared to fight their British lords, it was in an largely uninhabited continent and the master’s main army was separated by an ocean.

The French peasants were about to rise against a ruling class that had wronged them in every way possible for centuries. Every one who started the charge knew death was imminent, but so was a place in history.

Two lessons

The Bastille to most is a romantic notion of revolution, more so when juxtaposed to the period of Robespierre’s terror.

Two lessons are there for Malaysians to take.

a. There are no changes without risk. You just don’t see it.

I hear the stirrings of ” but Abdul Rahman got us independence without bloodshed”. The crown prince from Kedah was acceptable to British rulers seeing the collapse of their empire. They needed someone secure to shore up British interest. You might want to ask, ” Why were so many union activists, social activists, Malay left nationalists and communists were jailed, and not the Umno politicians?”

I fear with time, every Malaysian child is going to forget the ones that went to jail for Liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality and fraternity) Go look up your Umno leadership roll, look at how much the ruling class ( the western educated Malay class and royalty) suffered for the largely illiterate population in the march to independence.

So change is something that comes with a price

b. Change is volatile

When men and women who never ruled go and sit on thrones they are likely to trip on the arm-rest. I get so many people calling for the head of Pakatan Rakyat for not doing enough since election day.

Let us examine that claim.

While everyone and sundry is out checking out the credentials of the local councillors in Pakatan states, why don’t you go to your garage and look for old newspapers. Better, go to the national archives. Most of us were not alive the last time local councillors were scrutinised by those beyond their party.

No local council elections? Well, if the PM agrees to local council elections, and pushes for the bill in parliament to restart local elections, then we can fault Pakatan states if they hold back.

Are we all forgetting Umno ended local council elections in the country?

All new leaders will err, not because they are stupid, but because the chalice has been kept by a few. Patients waking up from long term coma need time to adjust to their limbs since they have not used it for years. Yet we expect politicians who have been deprived of space to rule, to have a natural transition?

So Bastille people

There is your Bastille.

Not sterile at all. Malaysia to assume a Bastille will need to take risks (sensible ones yes) and second, not expect all changes to pay dividends in the minutes after receiving the news.

If you are frustrated waiting, use the time to read about the left’s struggle in this country before being usurped by Umno. That would keep you healthy, and sane.

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