February 10: seize the day

February 10 has the potential to be a historic date for our country. It is the day when we will find out the Federal Court’s verdict on opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal against his sodomy conviction.

Khoo Ying Hooi | Published: 9 February 2015

It is the day when the international community will be watching. Political observers are split between two views: the majority are optimistic about the future of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) if Anwar is jailed. Many agree that Anwar in jail could strengthen the troubled opposition coalition, hence increasing the public’s spirit in fighting against the system that we have now. As for the consequences to Putrajaya’s credibility, it is secondary.

On the other hand, if Anwar is freed, there won’t be much excitement to our national politics.

The power struggle between the then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar ended in 1998 when Anwar was jailed for six years on sodomy and corruption charges.

That was when the Reformasi movement was triggered, and it witnessed the country’s largest ever anti-government protests. Unfortunately, the momentum did not last. The spirit of Reformasi died off a few years later, mainly due to the lack of a strong and solidified opposition movement.

There are so many mistakes in the 1998 protests from which we could learn. First and foremost, the non-government organisations (NGOs) and the civil society as a whole to a certain extent failed to optimise the opportunity that they had at that time for real reform.

I view February 10 as an opportunity, a golden opportunity for all Malaysians to further extend our voices to the government of the day on our demands.

This is our time and this is the time for social activists to fortify their strengths and work for a common cause: a better democracy for our country.

We have had many groups and movements working for human rights, democracy and overall a better Malaysia.

However, one core point has been missing: the coordination among these groups.

Various groupings are good to show the vibrancy and diversity of our society, but for the long term and strategically, it is high time for these groupings to sit down together to form a stronger network. This means we should rise to the occasion in a crisis. It means we should put aside our differences for the greater good.

There is no doubt that the nation will only progress if it is built on solid principles of democracy and good governance.

Since the 2008 general election, widely known as the “political tsunami” of Malaysia’s electoral history, thousands of people have taken to the streets to demonstrate their stands. The phenomenon of Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih), Himpunan Hijau and other movements have signalled a renewed social activism among Malaysians.

We all realise that it is a huge challenge to keep the momentum of reforms. Whether you are a supporter of Anwar or not does not matter. Regardless of the verdict of February 10, it is time to seize the day and take advantage, my fellow Malaysians. – February 9, 2015.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

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