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Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye MMVII... you were an interesting year!

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How do you compress the events of an entire year into one retrospective post? Well, it's difficult, Walski will tell you that right off the bat. Unless you want to end up with a post so long that no one bothers to read it.

Nope, not possible. But before we get this retrospective-of-sorts, under way... Happy New Year 2008 MMVIII, people.

Image hosting by PhotobucketWishing all readers, friends and loved ones a very Happy New Year!
(fireworks background image taken from here)

And Walski does hope that 2008 will be a great year. Apart from the damper of an almost inevitable fuel price hike, and an ever increasingly totalitarian BN government, Walski is condifent that this coming year will be yet another memorable year for Malaysia. But since one of Walski's biggest weaknesses is to foresee the future, we'll just have to wait and see what the next 364.25 have in store for us...

But before we jump the gun, let's take a walk down recent-memory lane, and look back at 2007. It was a year that can be summed up in one word: challenging.
(the challenging year that was, in the full post)

For Walski, personally, it was a challenging year because he had to come to grips with a changing Malaysia. Changing rapidly, but not necessarily for the better. The ever growing conservatism, and influence from our own religious right, for one. For Muslims, it was a year that proved, once and for all, being labelled a Muslim on your MyKad was more important than what conviction you have in your heart. And it's no big secret that the only purpose why this is so is to facilitate enforcement. Or, in Walski's vocabulary, religious persecution.

To Walski, it's high time that the state got out of the business of regulating the faith of the people. Faith is something personal between an individual and his/her Creator, and not something for the state to have a say in. As it is, Muslims in this country must adhere to the practice of Islam as seen fit by the religious authorities - no other interpretations are tolerated. And lets at least be honest about it - the administration of Islam in this country is essentially a bureaucracy. Organized religion in its truest sense. Walski loses track of how many departments, agencies and governmental bodies there are touching on the administration of Islam in this country. At worst, these various bodies don't see eye-to-eye on many things. The case of the busted-up wedding in Tawau earlier this year is a case in point, albeit an extreme one.

This year also saw the official launch of Malaysia and the Club of Doom, a book written by Syed Akbar Ali, and one that Walski considers to be a must-read for all Malaysians. It's a must-read because many of the signs that Malaysia is threading the painful path to Hell-on-Earth are already apparent. Surprisingly (but pleasantly so), this book is still available on Malaysian bookstore shelves - because many of the things generally consider to be "written in stone" in as far as Islam is concerned, actually aren't, but are the way they are due to generations of indoctrination and dogmatic practice. If you haven't already read it, you should do so. And help the country from going down in flames.

Walski also found 2007 "challenging" for other reasons. Like how everyone has started to (finally) wake up to the reality that our government is not doing its job properly, and have started challenging the hegemony that BN has had over how Malaysia has been governed.

While Pak Lah was given a unprecedented mandate in 2004, many of the promises made have not been fulfilled. The People's Parliament asked, earlier this year, whether all those promises have been kept. With another round of our 4-5 year once democracy (a.k.a General Elections) very likely to occur in 2008, we will be coaxed into believing that no one else save BN are capable of leading the nation. Walski thinks otherwise. The alternatives aren't ideal, but there are alternatives.

And it is in this spirit, of allowing Malaysians to vote with their conscience, that the Bersih initiative was born this year. It's been an open secret that the Election Commission is not as fair to all as we would like it to be, and that there is a strong bias for the incumbents, BN. When the head of the EC came out and pretty much stated his own viewpoint that no one else is capable but BN, these fears are definitely reinforced, even though the opinion was Rashid's personal one.

Election Commission (EC) chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman let slip today his views on which ‘regime’ he regards as being capable of running the country, and said those who disagree with him do not realise the ‘critical’ situation the country is in.

“A lot of people are anxious to determine the type of regime that is going to handle Malaysia in the coming years. They are always talking about regimes. I never talk about regimes. There is only one regime in this country that is capable of running (the country),” he said.

blog it

The November 10 Bersih rally must have come as a shock to UMNO and BN, coming immediately after the UMNO General Assembly earlier that week. But as usual, the state-influenced media mainstream went full-speed ahead, labelling the rally as opposition-led, and calling it violent - when the only violence that did occur was the unleashing of chemically-laced water cannons and tear gas by the police. Challenging, no?

Realizing how the government views citizens rights was another eye-opener that Walski found challenging. Earlier, Walski had postulated Three Laws of Governmental Physics, the third of which states that "For every civil liberty guaranteed in the Federal Constitution, there is an equal and opposite law enacted to totally negate it". There are many instances that Walski could quote, but 2007 could probably be dubbed as the year we realized how thoroughly our rights get trampled upon. And one blogger encapsulated the entire assault on our civil rights as citizens with one simple poster.

Image hosting by PhotobucketCivil rights under seige... courtesy of Mob1900

Other people, though, will undoubtedly see different things that were key to 2007. Blogger Juslo, for instance, saw the year as one where the plight of women, domestically and worldwide, took center stage, culminating a few days ago with the brutal assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

And speaking of brutality, it ,too, was another challenge that reared its ugly head this past year. The images of a battered and brutalized Nurin will forever haunt Malaysia, as violent crime seemingly became more frequent this year. But with police resources seen as more important to keep the population under seige, rather than fight crime, it's really a no-brainer why the crime rate has seemingly spiralled, particularly violent crimes.

Which brings us to the promised, but so far undelivered IPCMC (Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission). Instead, a watered-down SCS (Special Complaints Commission), headed in part by the IGP, was proposed, but thankfully withdrawn, before it went to vote. How independent would it be if the IGP were involved? No-brainer there, if you were to ask Walski...

Finally, 2007 will also be remembered as the year blogs and bloggers got noticed, as an outlet to voice out on any and all things. And it's also the year bloggers were targetted by the authorities. Nat Tan and Raja Petra Kamaruddin, two prominent bloggers, were hauled up by the police, the former on charges of disseminating Official Secrets, while Raja Petra on supposedly seditious remarks left by commenters on his website, Malaysia Today. Blogger buddy, Howsy has the entire scoop on the who, what, where, how, and what-not... in two parts, here and here.

Instead of engaging bloggers, the Government decided instead to demonize them. Too used to being able to control how "news" is written and disseminated, blogs became an instant threat to their hegemony on information. Or, to put it another way, the government found us bloggers challenging.

And Walski expects that the low regard given to bloggers will continue into 2008 and beyond. Also expect our RSF Rankings to plummet further, with the crap that happened in '07, and which Walski expects will continue, to one extent or another, in '08. We are after all threats to national security... or more aptly, Barisan Nasional security. With no respite in sight any time soon, Walski reckongs that the coming year will be equally, if not more, challenging on the blogging front.

There's actually a lot more to say about this year that's almost gone, but Walski will wrap this post up right here. And so, with but a few hours until the new year, Walski ends this post, the last for 2007, with hope. Hope that the new year brings a better life for all Malaysians, wherever you may be. It won't be easy, though. And things may just get worse, before they get better. But Walski is certain that it will get better, God willing. We need to stand strong on our convictions for a better Malaysia, for all Malaysians. And that, will no doubt be challenging.

Walski's wishes for 2008? Well, we'll cover that next year... which is in about two hours (and change) away - in this GMT +8 timezone anyways.

In the meantime, PEACE to all... and have a great New Year's eve... party hardy and have fun, but if you drink (or otherwise get intoxicated), leave the driving to someone else...

So, to everyone out there: if you can't be good, be good at it. Oh, and. Happy New Year, 2008!