Dear reader… (© Cierpki / sxc.hu)
The year is drawing to a close and it is giving me cause to reflect on our relationship. Thank you for your support as well as your criticism. There were times when it stung, but in the larger scheme of things, I hope it has made me a better writer and a better person.
I’m sorry for the times when I didn’t give my all to our relationship; when I thought I could get away with doing lazy research and dishing out half-hearted articles. But you knew better, and you held me accountable.
But there were other times when I felt that I couldn’t always let you have what you wanted, or liked. I felt you were too biased, and it was my job to help you see things from other points of view, or things as they really were.
Is my judgement clouded? (© Aleksandra P / sxc.hu)
And yet, when I did, you couldn’t accept it. You said I wasn’t sensitive to your feelings and that it was my judgement that was clouded. You were offended if I mentioned the gentlest criticism of those whom you supported. You were quick to rant that I had gone to the other side, that I had switched allegiances and had become no better than … so and so.
You would name names of other writers, and compare me to them, and accuse me of having their agendas. Oh, compare me to them! But why? What would give you cause to do that? Have you not seen how hard I strive to bring clarity to your understanding? I don’t wish for you to be fooled by anyone!
You see, dear reader, you must know what you truly want. You must not support one side unquestioningly, simply and only because you dislike the other. Neither should you support any personality, system or institution solely because they have so far served your needs. Your needs may be sated, but at what cost? If you want more for Malaysia, as I do, you have to look beyond.
And if those you support claim to represent the ideals you want, then test them, challenge them. Throw the law at them. Don’t let them get away with deflecting problems onto their rivals. If all is not right, demand explanations of them. Otherwise, how can they improve? If we expect them to rule over us one day, don’t we have the right to know that they will serve us and not themselves?
I write this to you, dear reader, because it has been bugging me for a long time now. It bugs me that few out there objectively appraise those who rule over us and those who try to woo us. It bugs me that sides are so often taken and the positions are either to vilify or defend. It bugs me that disagreements are silenced using emotions rather than facts. It bugs me that that more amongst us prefer to listen to rumours and gossip than to look at principles and values. It bugs me that as a whole, we are more polarised than ever. Oh yes, I am bugged.
You and I have a duty… (© Zsuzsanna Kilian / sxc.hu)
You and I have a duty to create a middle ground. When we do that, our leaders will respond likewise. They will see that what we are after are the facts and results, and that these are delivered fairly and justly. They will see that it is not personalities or ideologies that we want, but sound policies, democratic practices, and corrupt-free governance. We have to tell them what we want, not what they want us to have. Perhaps then, they will stop believing in their own hype.
I am glad to finally get this off my chest. I am sorry if you find my letter a burden to read, but there was no other way to express what I feel. So many things are easily misconstrued these days. It is the bane of our society to be so politically polarised.
Let us not get caught up in that.
I wish you insightful reflections of the year that was.
Deborah Loh always feels melancholic at the end of each year.
Read previous Sideways columns
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