Rebel With A Cause

With my grandma in our ancestral home, in Alangudi.

A reader told me. In a tweet, no less. It was bit of a kind way to say that I am full of faeces.

Apparently, all this while, I have been critical of my party, and the coalition, which is in power.

(Let’s scratch “apparently” from the sentence.)

Clarify further, up to the point that they were in opposition.

He suggested maybe I have cheered up, disingenuously, after Pakatan Harapan won. After all, all kinds of opportunities are available, and well it is the time for opportunists.

Let’s get is straight.

So it is on record, and so there are no misconceptions.

From the start

I was born and raised in an apolitical family. My dad, which means my mom too by default, voted for Barisan Nasional because that’s what government drivers do. Second generation Malaysians surviving and thriving in a country which only keeps giving even if it’s not easy.

You have to be thankful. There are worse outcomes.

The future.

My parents disapproved that as a child I opposed BN. My dad said, I was picking a difficult path. And to be fair to my late dad, he let me as a child to decide.

My siblings were indifferent about it, and thought I was a bit weird, being the youngest to have such strong sentiments about government.

My friends reckoned I was just weird.

My opposition to Mahathir Mohamad has never wavered and few can find me over the decades caught saying a kind thing about the man. He was cruel, he was absolute and he destroyed lives. If you disagree, then you are ignorant.

In university people laughed at me, when I walked into the cafetaria, because they called me the “Malaysian”. Apparently, it was funny. Being the guy who believed the country could be egalitarian and that race is a demographical fact but not a defining factor for any of my countrymen, sounded funny to them.

Every step of the way, the racist country Mahathir cheered on, refused my thinking. It was immature, inconsiderate of our fixed race views and does not realise this is the Malaysian way.

In my university debating days, my old teammate used to say, it is uncommon someone actually believes too strongly in things they are not personally about to benefit from, or can benefit from in the future. It’s counter-intuitive, he said.

When I returned to the country, there was always this feeling that I was too left field, too different in how I looked at the problem.

Which was to say, it did not matter how I did look at it, but since most people did not look at it that way, it did not matter how I did look at it.

“Back down Praba, accept, this is Malaysia.”

Here, today

I’ve served my party, and I’ve been at the receiving end too.

I ask more of my party, because it can be more. There is no reason to accept pettiness as a way of life, because too many people share that sentiment.

There have been some self-sacrificing people in the party, and no, they are not names you’ve heard. They’ve committed themselves and gone on with it, and without the glory.

They may not have the newspaper mentions, but I am happy they will be finally get recognition for their convictions. I remember talking to Saedi in Kota Kinabalu Airport waiting for our delayed flight, and we took turns talking about what brought us to politics. It’s humbling to hear those who seek not office, but a freer nation.

If this change in tide gives them chances to serve the nation even further it is to all our common benefit they do.

But back to my reader.

I’ve fought the regime when it was not popular to fight it. I fought it a long time. Including all the opportunities I had to forego — and in this country, there are only that many opportunities for defiant Dalit boys — by choice.

I wanted to win, and if that meant asking for more, then it is what I did.

If this means the victors think less of me, it’s fine.

This country will thrive because of the decision, the bravery to change course. It is not in the hands of Mahathir, Anwar Ibrahim or anyone else. It is in the hands of the people. Because people who change their mind, make a habit of it.

We lacked that habit. Now we have it.

It is all I can celebrate. It is what I continue celebrating.

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