Saturday, 9 July 2011

V for Vendetta


“Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be” Sydney J. Harris.

Reading the current politic in Malaysia, somehow remind me of V for Vendetta. The film had been seen by many political groups as an allegory of oppression by government. The beginning of V for Vendetta starts with an introduction to the real-life notorious 17th century British conspirator Guy Fawkes and his failed attempt to blow up Parliament. Having been caught and apprehended, Fawkes is hanged. A monologue tells us that Fawkes, like all true patriots, represented an ideal that could not be destroyed. It is this theme that gives purpose to the main character of V, who apparently desires to finish where Fawkes left off by blowing up Parliament.

Why Parliament?

Perhaps this suggests that Parliament is the problem. Parliament is foremost a symbol of democracy in the world.

The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group.

Nowadays, we are supposed to replace governments with our votes. The part that the individual has in the electorate is supposed to protect him. However tendencies in democracies have allowed more and more to be handled by the government due to democratic legitimacy through election.

Bersih 2.0 rally for example is an effort to ensure the integrity of the electoral process. This initiative should by right be welcomed by the government as it would legitimise the elections which form the bedrock of a democratic government. This aim of the coalition is amply clear in its eight basic demands, which are to: clean the electoral roll, reform the postal ballot, use indelible ink, stipulate a minimum campaign period of 21 days, provide free and fair access to media, strengthen public institutions, stop corruption and stop dirty politics.

In regards to the government’s reaction to the Bersih 2.0 rally, which the coalition for free and fair elections has called for July 9, raises important questions about the state of civil liberties in the country and its implications for our democracy.

Looking from logic perspective, a government that wishes to be recognised as being rightfully elected would work very hard to ensure that the issues that have been raised by Bersih 2.0 are addressed, so that it would not be accused of winning the elections by unfair means. This simply means that the government needs to embrace electoral reform and seriously address the weaknesses that are currently causing doubts to be raised about the integrity and impartiality of its key institutions.

However, instead of being proactive and engaging its critics, the government has chosen to dismiss the efforts of concerned citizens groups to rectify the flaws in the election process. Worse still, it has chosen to crack down on anyone who is showing support for the demands of the Bersih 2.0 coalition.

Freedom is when the people can speak; democracy is when the government listens. Public confidence in the integrity of the Government is indispensable to faith in democracy; and when we lose faith in the system, we have lost faith in everything we fight and spend for.

Remember Abraham Lincoln once said Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people”.

However the right of power via democracy does perhaps reduce government's fear of their people to such an extent that V's motto becomes relevant:

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people”

I felt the movie was very prescient to how the political climate is at the moment. It really showed what can happen when society is ruled by government, rather than the government being run as a voice of the people.

Note: Democracy consists of choosing your dictators after they've told you what you think it is you want to hear

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