...now the fight is for our very humanity
I had an insanely busy Saturday, moderating two forums back to back, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. It took its toll. By 5.30 pm, I was exhausted, but I had promised to speak to some young people at a music and political awareness programme organised in Petaling Jaya.
Now, I am actually quite confident about my public speaking abilities. After teaching for 25 years, one gets used to speaking to crowds. But I must admit that yesterday I was one major fail.
I blabbed on about how the young must take up the mantle of the older generation, and how the fight for a better country is something which will be a continuous struggle. I only spoke for about five minutes, but it was excruciating for me. I dare not think how absolutely awful it must have been for them.
I guess age is catching up, and I was simply exhausted, so although my body was in that little venue, my brain was asleep somewhere in PJ New Town.
If I had to do the talk again, my message to those young people would have been different. I would have said that what is happening in the country will most definitely affect them, even if they currently feel disassociated from politics. All those old people holding power do not care if they are running the country economically into the ground. They have no problems lying about it.
And because they are so corrupt, they will do anything in their power so that they can stay in power. This means not respecting our inherent rights, primarily our right to express ourselves. And because there is no respect at all for fundamental human rights like speech, they are starting to encroach into that most untouchable of rights, the right to our own thoughts.
For now, they are only concerned with what we say or do in public, for example, our public expression of discontent. But there are clear signs that they will soon be invading our private thoughts and beliefs.
I would have told those young people that my generation and the generations before us are guilty of not fighting enough. That is why we are in the state that we are in. I would have told them that although I wish that they would bring their energy and strength into the fight, those of my generation must not just hand over the responsibility to them. The fight is for all of us to take on.
And what we are fighting for now is not just about having a comfortable life in a country with a sound economy, it is not just about having our civil and political rights respected. No, now the fight is for our very humanity.