If someone were to tell me that we NEED NOT learn from the ongoing tumultuous events in Libya, or for that matter from the other troubled North African Muslim states, then my advice to them, particularly to our leaders today, is to rethink before it is too late. I take a serious view at the turn of events in these North African Muslim states, which is fast cascading into the neighboring Arab kingdom of the Gulf region, and Malaysia is no exception.
It has been almost 12 days now and it is obvious that the events in Libya are unlike that of Egypt or Tunisia, though many agrees that the causes for the people’s uprising is somewhat similar. French Human Rights officials estimate that a total of 2000 people have died since the start of the uprising, and many more will die if the uprising goes unabated.
On hindsight, Mubarak’s decision to quit was orderly, although initially he declined to accept his peoples demand for his removal. I think what prompted Mubarak to relent and to hand over powers to his newly appointed deputy was because he saw his powers slipping away due to the refusal of the military to support him in his cause. The same can also be said of Tunisia, but unlike Mubarak who had vowed to remain in Egypt and to die in his country of birth; the Tunisian President decided to defect from his country fearing dearly for his life and that of his family.
As at today, Muammar Ghaddafi who has been Libyan President for 42 years is still clinging precariously to the reins of power, although the military command (namely the regular army) is clearly divided now between those loyal to Ghaddafi, and those supporting the popular uprising. A number of cities are now firmly in the hands of the people, and a renowned Muslim cleric Sheikh Yusof Al Qaradawi had announced a ‘fatwa’ that Ghaddafi has to be assassinated.
The resignation of the Minister of Interior, Libyan Chief Prosecutor, senior military commanders including the defection of two fighter aircrafts to neighbouring Malta is a cause of major concern for Ghaddafi. At the international scene, several Libyan Ambassadors serving overseas has resigned in protest against Ghaddafi’s inhumane treatment in dealing with the protestors. Most western nations i.e. the EU, NATO, and including the US are considering punitive actions against Libya that includes sanctions, imposing a no fly zone over Libya, cancelling all forms of assistance, travel ban and freezing all accounts and assets belonging to Ghaddafi and including that of his family. There is also a call to quickly deploy UN Intervention Forces to stablise the security in Libya from escalating into a civil war.
Members of the International Human Rights Council have called for Libya to be suspended as a council member, and to investigate Ghaddafi and others for crimes against humanity.
While there is now some semblance of security and order in Egypt, the same cannot be said of Libya whose future is uncertain for as long as Ghaddafi remains in power. A defiant Ghaddafi has now accused Osama and the Al Qaeda for inciting the Libyan people to revolt by distributing drugs to the youth causing them to fight among them.
Now, having witnessed the events in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, what then are the lessons that we can learn from the people’s popular uprising in those countries. There are several, and I wish to list them (though not in any order of importance) as follows:
1. The military remains the most decisive organization that will determine the fate of a country that is at the verge of a civil war caused by a people’s popular uprising.
2. The military must remain free of any political influences, and it must recognize that it exist to defend the people’s rights first against the extreme abuses of its political masters. To remain subservient to the political masters despite knowing their abuses is a crime.
3. Politicians must understand that power lies in the hands of the people. In other words, power in the hands of politicians is discretionary, and can be taken away if the people so wishes; through the ballot box or at worse, by force.
4. To repeatedly ignore the voice of the people and to impose measures to quell dissenting voices is a sure recipe for disaster.
5. Political power should not assume absolute power over people’s power. Neither can political power be assumed to exceed military power. There has to be an understanding in the limitation and balance of power held by politicians, the military and the people. To be overawed by power is another recipe for disaster.
6. Abuse of power, corruption, repressive laws, poverty, escalating costs of living, ignorance and not heeding to the people’s wishes and demands, political rhetoric and curtailment of the freedom of speech and expression; these are some of the causes that can incite a people’s uprising.
Despite all that is happening in the troubled North African Muslim countries, there are still some among our leaders today who believes that Malaysians are unlike Egyptians, Tunisians or Libyans; hence nothing of the sort that is happening in the those countries is likely to occur in our country. This is absolute nonsense.
I say that the causes of a people’s popular uprising does exist in our society today, though many may disagree and claim that such causes are within manageable limits. There are some who claims that a people’s popular uprising is not a Malaysian culture. It is such thought that worries me and we must not be swayed by such complacency. The sooner we come to our senses, the better it will be for the future of this country.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION