SO it seems that the Pakatan-led government is struggling to maintain a united front. It’s interesting that this still comes as a surprise to some, given the internal bickering that’s been going on for a while now. In recent weeks, however, things seem to be heating up more.
From barbs in Parliament to personal hits thinly veiled in press reports, the big guns leading Malaysia are certainly practising what they preach, and realising the reality of it. Freedom of speech is a mark of true democracy, but it requires a mature society for it to actually work. If not, all we will get is noise and confusion.
That’s what seems to be happening with several heated exchanges over the past few weeks. A case in point: the recent furore over Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar’s statements. Her remarks of a “former dictator” and comments on the “sluggish pace” of reforms have not gone down well.
She’s reportedly been called immature, emotional and irrational, with veteran politicans and analysts questioning her motives. Netizens are on both sides of the fence, weighing out Nurul Izzah’s responsibility as a politician and leader against her rights as a citizen.
Nurul Izzah, however, has defended her statements and says she will continue to speak her mind.
Of course, it does not help anyone that there’s an obvious and underlying struggle within the coalition over who should be sitting in the prime minister’s seat.
This is a clear example of how in a messy, noisy world, we can fail to hear and even skew what people are trying to say. Sure, freedom of speech gives us the fuel we need to build a progressive society, but if we are not careful it can divide rather than unite.
Individuals in public office must be held to a higher standard, as their opinions affect the wider community. Nurul Izzah had every right to share her experience working alongside a man with whom her family shares a difficult history, but choice of words and clarity of purpose are important.
If strong words are chosen and used, then a strong reaction must be expected. I don’t think blaming the media for overplaying it will win you any points; Nurul Izzah criticised the ruling government, which she is a part of, so of course it’s going to make the news.
Yes, reforms are slow. We all know that. But instead of just stating the obvious, or publicly chiding the person who did so, it would have been nice to have been told more. I would have liked to hear why the changes are slow, what roadblocks there are and what the government is doing about it.
I would like to know if they made one promise too many when campaigning, and that once reality set in they realised systemic change requires so much more than what they imagined. Freedom of speech gives us the opportunity to influence, inform and effect change. With every word, we can add value if we so wish.
What seems to be happening now, in my opinion, is that the Pakatan-led government is slowly losing ground and will continue to do so if its leaders don’t get their words right. Yes, speaking your mind is important but when leading a country, the people have to hear a united voice.
For a country still reeling from a year of stark change, the leaders set the tone. If we are going to realise the Malaysia all of us want, we need to be wise in our speech. So less confusion, more clarity please.