22 January 2009



The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.


Wednesday January 21, 2009
Can we hope for real change?
Musings by Marina Mahathir

Swept into power on his campaign for change, just-inaugurated President Barack Obama represents not only the hopes of the US but also of the world.

DEAR President Obama, Please excuse this conceit. I am but one of the billions of people around the world who did not have the privilege of voting for you. Yet, like many others, I was thrilled when you won the elections because you represented such a visual change from the usual faces we see in the White House.

And I like the fact that the new First Lady is a smart woman who has a mind of her own.

I must say that my disquiet about you began when you named your Chief of Staff. I understand how important that position is and how you need someone you can trust there, so I know how much influence he will have over your decisions.

But those of us who have been hoping for some real change in your foreign policies, especially concerning Palestine, were severely disappointed. It didn’t bode well at all for global peace.

And we were right to worry. Since the Israelis started bombing Gaza, you have been silent. Your excuse was that there could be only one president at a time. But you had not hesitated to condemn what happened in Mumbai.

It is astounding to me that you, the father of two daughters, can stand by and watch the children of Gaza being killed and terrorised every day by those F16s and not express a word of sympathy to them.

Would it really have hurt to make some remark about keeping children safe wherever they might be in the world?

Mr Obama, I understand what pressures you were under when you ran for president. I know that be- cause of your race, you faced difficulties in proving that you are as good and as capable of leading your country as any other candidate.

You were constantly challenged to prove that you were as patriotic as any other American, despite a far more diverse background and experience than most of your fellow citizens. Well you did it. You were voted in despite that background.

We in the rest of the world expected that heritage to bring a perspective that takes into account the diversity of humanity. That your Kenyan relatives would give you an understanding of the difficulties the developing world faces, and the role and responsibilities that an American leader shoulders in dealing with that world.

Were we wrong? Mr Obama, I understand about political expediency. In my country, political expediency is the mainstay of every politician’s thinking.

They think not of what would be truly good for the country but what they think will win them votes. More and more, they bow to pressures from groups that claim to represent the majority when in fact they are only the loudest voices heard.

Good decent moderate people rarely get to speak, mostly because they don’t know who would listen to them. And thus far, there has been little evidence that anyone will listen to them despite the strongest of signals last March.

I know you are already looking ahead to the next election and how to win that. I know you constantly have to ensure that those who supported you in 2008 do not abandon you in 2012.

I understand also about the tough economic issues that you have to deal with in America, because nothing makes a leader’s job more perilous than when people are finding it hard to make ends meet.

But when you worry about the Americans who may lose their homes because they cannot service their bank loans and are unable to pay their medical bills because their insurance cannot cover them, spare a thought for the people in Gaza who don’t have to worry about housing loans because their homes have been reduced to rubble.

Or the ones who will have pay funeral expenses rather than hospital bills.

When you worry about the state of education in America, think about children whose schools Israeli bombs have destroyed and whose futures are now bleak because they will not get any education.

When you deal with the security of Americans, consider those who have to protect themselves not from muggers or robbers but from bombs raining down on them, and white phosphorus burning their skin.

As you try and deal with your crowded cities and poor housing, as you described in your book Dreams From My Father, take a look at a map and consider the 1.5 million people squeezed into that 10km by 40km patch of land known as the Gaza Strip. Is that humane?

Who am I, Mr Obama, but only one of the millions of people who are well aware of what is right and wrong, what is just and what is not.

If you claim to change the way things have been done all this while, then you have to re-look at some of America’s policies that have been wrong and unjust, especially the ones that have allowed millions of defenceless people to undergo abo- minable suffering just because they want to live in their own land.

Can we have the audacity to hope for that?