I stepped outside the house this morning and was assailed by a distinctively smoky, musky aroma in the air. Visibility was down, and looking off into the distance, it seemed like the land was engulfed in a smokey haze. The Indonesians were burning again, and its time for Malaysians to suffer the consequences (again). My whole family is sick, including my 3 month old baby. Walking into the office, nearly everyone has the sniffles, coughing. Business has never been so good at the company clinic. I can only imagine how poorly people who suffer from asthma or breathing problems are faring through all of this. For them, for the worst of them, it’ll be like drowning in open air — they won’t be able to breathe.
It’s interesting that this is happening just days after the Bersih rally, because it makes the comparison all the more easy to connect.
During the rally, one person died. It’s a tragedy, and despite the Government’s claim that he passed due to heart failure, there certainly is a case to argue that if the police hadn’t gassed him, he wouldn’t have had to run and put unnecessary stress on his heart. Predictably, the Opposition is milking this tragedy for all it’s worth, calling the death a testimony to the police brutality of a merciless Government hell-bent on preserving their corrupt way of life through unfair elections. Etc etc etc. The script is obvious.
But where is the outrage, Anwar Ibrahim, over this haze that is causing so much harm to millions of Malaysians? Where are the chest thumping speeches against the brutality of the Indonesian government for being strict in the enforcement of their no-open burning policies? Where is the formation of “UDARA” – Malaysians for clean and healthy air? Where are the threats of street demonstrations if the Government does nothing to put pressure on the Indonesians? Where are the green T-Shirts? Where is the petition to the King? Where is the global organized protest?
Of course, you’ll see no such thing, because Anwar Ibrahim can’t afford to antagonize the Indonesians who have been staunch supporters of his cause for years. Earlier this week, Malaysia had to send an envoy to Indonesia to explain the Bersih rally, to assure the Indonesians that the police acted within the law. That is how much they love Anwar Ibrahim over there, even a relatively minor incident (much larger rallies occur in Indonesia on a much more frequent basis) such as the Bersih rally can spark off columns of newspaper ink in his favour, potentially leading to a diplomatic crisis between the nations.
A reasonable person will make this connection: if Anwar Ibrahim claims to have the rakyat’s best interest at heart, why does he choose to support Bersih and do nothing about things such as the haze (that hits us every single year, a few times a year)? Given the evidence, is it because one cause brings him political mileage while the other will tarnish the good reputation he has overseas (especially his large base of goodwill he has in Indonesia)?
A true champion of the “rakyat” will not discriminate between the two; the fact that he does, makes me question his motives, his intentions and his nobility. Therefore, was Bersih ever really about electoral reform or was it just a vehicle for him to gather more support and “buy” a few thousand more votes in the next general election?
Sometimes, i wonder which is more disgusting. A party that bribes the voters to vote for them with RM50 handouts on polling day, or a man who brings 50k people to the streets where people get hurt and one person died so that he gets more votes. Don’t let him fool you, Anwar Ibrahim is not a white knight. He is just a politician, no better than the rest of them.