The Discomfort Of Sitting On The Fence

Of all the places one can think of, the fence must be about the most uncomfortable place on earth to sit (or perch) on. To sit on the fence for a while may be alright but certainly not for long. Fences will poke and scratch us in our most tender parts of the human body. Sooner than later, you will find it better to get off the fence and take your rightful place on firm ground.

It is for me to decide to get myself off the fence. Getting off the fence constitutes a conscious decision on my part as an adult person where I wish to place myself, that is, on which side of the fence I wish to be. That is a decision I make for myself. Nobody can or should do this on my behalf.

Likewise, it is for others to decide to stay on the fence or when to get themselves down from their respective fences and when they finally do, to decide which side of the fence will best reflect their own views about life. That is each person’s human right, each person’s freedom to choose when to get off and on which side they wish to place their feet.

As for me, in the present context wherein we as a nation has found ourselves, quite clearly despite its very human imperfections, the PR’s (Pakatan Rakyat’s) stand on all the critically vital issues of grave national concern- press freedom, usage of “Allah”, judiciary, ISA, local government, civil service, police, MACC, “1Malaysia”, gender, religious, ethnic and cultural issues, elections laws and practices, economic policies, etc.- most certainly reflects more closely my own political aspirations and vision for the nation.

I constantly remind myself (and am reminded) that as and when PR forms the federal government, it may not (probably will not) be able to resolve fifty plus years of abuse and anomaly. As is clearly evident at state level, the civil service for one is not always cooperative or open to change and reform. Be that as it may, I am satisfied that in the main, the PR agenda for institutional change and reform is by far to be preferred than more of the same.

Quite honestly, speaking for myself, despite the rhetoric, sloganizing and even good intentions on the part of some in the present administration, more of the same is not tenable and in my opinion, disasterous for the nation and its people.

Yes in choosing to go with the PR I could arguably be bluffed by them once they form the government. But you know what? For me it is better to be bluffed once if it comes to that than to let the bluff of fifty plus years continue. If anything, the Malaysia I see today is far worse than my Malaysia during my school days some forty-five years ago. The intensity of abuse of the resources and the institutions of state is indescribable, unfathomable, despicable and contemptible. No amount of semantics and spinning can make such vast scale wrongdoing become sensible or acceptable or good by any definition or yardstick.

A country of such rich resources, human and inanimate, could and should have made our nation world class. My nation, Malaysia, has instead become a country of missed opportunities and unfulfilled triumph.

If we the people allow things to go on as it is, our children and grand children will live in a terrible, horrible cultural environment of disrespect and intolerance in a climate of fear and distrust.

My prayer and aspiration is for the nation politically to evolve a two-party or coalition system of governance whereby there is no monopoly or iron-clad dominance of political power but that each side would be given a fair chance to compete thus making reform and desirable change a constant need within each of the parties and coalitions. Democratic elections is when either side has a fair and equal chance to win office.

Therefore, today when several individuals are for reasons best known to themselves leaving the party and badmouthing the party, etc., I as a free individual person would like the world to know that I am here and now choosing to identify in an unequivocal manner my support and recommitment to PKR and PR.

I feel and think that PR for the grave political risks and resolve it has taken deserves my vote and my energies. I hope that for every departure, there will be many more arrivals to the cause of needed change.

From here on in my journey in life, I give up my non-partisan stance. I surrender my neutrality. That does not mean that I shall cease to be fair and reasonable to any one regardless of his or her political association. That does not mean that I shall just simply shout out abuse or whatever at anybody or rush to condemn persons or their roles and initiatives. That does not mean that I will be blind to wrong and silent to abuse wherever it is found. That does not mean I won’t listen to or be corrected by persons on the other side of the political divide.

There is a cost to my decision, however, a price to pay. In making my choice, to be fair, I am hereby withdrawing my association from any group or body where political non-partisanship is necessary.


Republished with permission from OnGOHing

3 Replies to “The Discomfort Of Sitting On The Fence”

  1. Whilst fence-sitting is far from ideal (and whilst I absolutely salute the commitment and passion shown by Keat Peng), what I felt this piece omitted was the importance of selecting the right *candidate* (as opposed to merely rejecting the wrong party).

    Given the recent ‘frog-oriented’ turmoil in Pakatan, perhaps it’s more important to sell the credentials of the specific *people* standing for election, instead of (or in addition to) – as per the general populist ‘strategy’ in the 2008 elections – voting against BN simply to get more parliamentary seats.

    This could perhaps be one blind-spot of being 110% partisan, in that we could be voting for the specific party REGARDLESS of the actual virtues or vices of the candidates. The paradoxical challenge for Pakatan here, too, could be in the case where the BN candidate is more qualified and respected than ours – if so, wouldn’t it be simply appropriate and ‘right’ to vote BN?

    [I realize as I write this that could be an extremely naïve position to take; on second thoughts, though, it’s surely telling that Pakatan’s troubles in Perak began with – how many? Is it THREE? – candidates defecting, resulting in the snow-balling chaos and fiasco which have barely been resolved. In retrospect, would it be too exaggerating to say that the Perakian people *would have been better off* if Pakatan never won those seats in the first place?! Whilst there was undeniable BN hanky-panky going on, it must be remembered that Nizar & Co. failed to prevent the defections and if they are to be proudly saluted for their victories they must – they MUST! – be properly chastened for their failures.]

    Of course, as I suspect more and more people are feeling, it could be that NEITHER party (or candidate – then again, we’ll need to check) deserves our vote. Here I’d like the reiterate (the not extremely popular) call that Pakatan needs to spend MORE time convincing the people why *they* are capable of running the government; right now unfortunately it seems to me that the key message is primarily why BN no longer warrants our support.
    (Perhaps in this context it could be more ‘pro-active’ to talk less about a ‘2-Malaysia’, a largely negative/fault-finding endeavor, and promote a ‘True 1 Malaysia’ i.e. why Pakatan is the real thing which BN can only fake).

    Whilst sitting on the fence is an *uncomfortable* position, it may at times be the more reflective and critical one (not least if taking firm ground, as Keat Peng says, comes with the quick – and all too tempting – incentive of relief from the pain on tender parts).

  2. though riddled with holes, PKR is still the only available alternative for the right-thinking voter at this stage of the nation’s life

    the dire straits she is in resulted from perpetration of power abuse, evil and wickedness, greed and corruption as much unravelling has shown

    the citizen who longs and prays for the country’s deliverance from the pits can be critical and reflective at all times but is there any time left for not making a choice

  3. There is a difference between sitting on the fence and retaining one’s neutrality. The difference is in the execution of one’s choices.

    It is not necessary to support the PR just because one is opposed to the BN. At the end of the day, the people must be able to choose the right candidate of whatever party who will be able to serve the people effectively. Today, the BN are doing the disservice. Tomorrow it may be the PR.

    Our immediate goal must be the restoration of democracy and citizen rights. If there is any likelihood that the BN can do that, then we should give them the chance. But, based on what they have been doing in the last 2 years, doing right by the people appears to be the last thing on their mind. That being the case, they need to be displaced so that the PR is given the chance to do better.

    If, because they failed to choose suitable candidates, the PR are unable to deliver, then perhaps the (hopefully reformed) BN should again be given the next mandate. That is the operation of a 2-party system.

    Permanent party loyalty is not necessary. And that is not sitting on the fence.

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