Emergencies, politics, freedom, and Osama
Writer: Lord Bobo
Published: Fri, 06 May 2011
Dear Lord Bobo, what is the effect of the five emergency declarations that have not been abrogated? @izmil_amri, via Twitter
THE effect of not abolishing the Emergency Declarations is simply that we are, from a legal point of view, still in a State of Emergency. So we should really go about our work and lives more anxiously in fear of our lives than we do.
We should have more checkpoints than those occasional ones that the traffic police set up for speedsters or the drinking fraternity. Domestic fashion should also revert to the sensibilities of the 1950s to 1960s with thick, dark-rimmed glasses, dull grey suits and grainy black-and-white photography.
This also explains why we should listen to our grandparents when they say, “Don’t take the trunk roads just to avoid the long-weekend jams”, or “Don’t go to Fraser’s Hill, it’s dangerous” because hey, they’re probably right when they say that Communists could jump out of them bushes/oil palm estates/jungles at any time.
Lord Bobo, I’m almost completely disinterested in politics, but have noticed a lot of noise being made about it in the past few weeks. Anyway, after all the dust has settled, what is the most important conclusion from the results of the Sarawak state elections? @A Political, via email
WE think we are right in saying that this is the first time the Sarawak state elections have been lavished so much attention by Orang Semenanjung (Peninsular Folk). Some say this was because of Pakatan Rakyat hyping up its significance. Some say this was because of the online media portals and social media like Twitter and Facebook.
Whatever it was, it’s undeniable that for the first time in history, the Peninsular Folk seemed to realise that these East Malaysians had separate state elections which were pretty significant in terms of the balance of political power at the national level.
His Supreme Eminenceness won’t go into the political intricacies of the results. Those have been analysed (or was it spun?) to death in the past couple of weeks anyway.
The bottom line is that BN won, retained their two-thirds majority, but saw their share of the popular vote drop from 63% to 55%.
Which one of these facts is more significant will depend on whether you are a BN or Pakatan supporter.
Political analysts were saying in the lead-up to the elections that the results would tell us whether or not a general election would be called this year. After the results were announced, the consensus is that – er, there is no consensus. So, nothing to be learnt there then.
Anyway, we can’t expect political analysts to come to certain conclusions. If they did, they’d have nothing else to write about for the rest of the year.
The most important conclusion then? BN won.
How is Selangor’s Freedom of Information Act (FOI Act) useful to the ordinary ape on the street? @adriene, via Twitter
THE importance of freedom of information as a fundamental right is beyond question. It is a right enshrined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Freedom of information is an important component of a transparent and accountable government. It plays a key role in enabling the great apes to know how government/public agencies are being run, and helps expose abuses of power, corruption, and mismanagement.
In general, the FOI Act provides access and rights to request for publicly available information from any government/public agencies; in this case, information in the state government/public agencies of Selangor.
An ordinary ape can now request for information vital to his or her well-being as a Selangor citizen, such as how many acres of land have been earmarked to be developed as banana plantations, the costs involved, and how much banana yield it is expected to produce.
This access to information vital as these government/public agencies are there to make decisions and utilise our tax ringgit on our behalf to provide the services that we need. The fact that we can have access to this information, which will then enable us to hold our government/public agencies to account is a very important part of democracy.
Democracy is bound to fail if government/public agencies operate in secrecy, regardless of how much discussion and open debate is allowed. Without quality information from public authorities, the nature and quality of public discussion would be significantly impoverished.
The FOI Act should result in an increased level of transparency, and make public servants more accountable for their actions, which should in turn encourage responsibility and lead to a reduction in instances of abuses of power and corruption.
The ideal end result of the FOI Act is an increase in public confidence in government/public agencies, as these agencies can show that they have nothing to hide from the ordinary ape on the street.
Dear Lord Bobo, so, they finally got that Osama guy, eh? @About Time, via email
IT’S amazing that killing this one guy has caused so much celebration in the US. The scenes in Times Square were really quite astonishing. We would think that the fact it took the world’s most sophisticated military, with the world’s most intricate intelligence network and equipment, almost nine years to find one man would be more embarrassing than impressive.
Then again, we must remember that “getting Osama” has been an obsession in the US, so much so that we read about 10-year-olds talking about how they “finally got the guy they’ve been after my whole life”.
But still, nine years? Perhaps their “intelligence” isn’t that smart – after all, if they wanted to know where he was, all they had to do was Ask Lord Bobo.