07 August 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 August 5, 2009
Before acting, take a deep breath

FORGIVE me if I’m repetitive but sometimes repetition is the only way to get some things into people’s heads.

Yoga may be banned in the view of some in this country but there’s one practice in yoga that can be helpful to everybody. And that is breathing.

There are many instances when before we do anything, it’s really helpful to take a few deep breaths because it helps to clear our minds and allows that moment of hesitation before we do something unwise in haste.

There are lots of people who could really have done with three deep breaths this past week. Breathing helps to engage the brain, and the brain is always needed when making decisions.

Thus it was that non-breathing on the part of those in power led to the ugly scenes of thousands of Malaysian citizens being water-cannoned, teargassed and arrested at the weekend.

There are those who complained about the inconvenience of such demos because mostly it prevented them from driving into town to go shopping. Perhaps the complaints are wrongly directed at the demonstrators.

Rather it should be directed at the police who put up road barriers and blocks a full day before the planned demos and caused traffic jams long before a single protestor put a foot down on a street.

Would it not have been better to simply issue warnings that since a demo is expected, people intending to go into the city should just take public transport?

Oh, but the demo is illegal! Being illegal doesn’t exactly stop it from happening, not when people don’t believe it should be illegal.

So if you know something is going to happen anyway, all you can do is ensure that it happens in an orderly manner with the least inconvenience as possible.

Which goes back to the breathing. If those in power had only taken the time to breathe deeply, their brains might have given them a smarter and unexpected plan.

And the plan would be to actually allow the demos to take place but within certain limits.

So one demo could have taken place at Dataran Merdeka, and only there, within specific and reasonable time limits.

The other rival one could have been allowed to take place in another venue also for a specific time limit.

No one from one group should be allowed anywhere near the other. (The Prime Minister later offered stadiums for these demos, a bit belatedly).

This has tremendous benefits because it allows people to vent what they want, and at the same time pulling the carpet from under them completely.

It also allows better crowd control and avoids unnecessary actions like water-cannoning and tear-gassing. And you don’t get stupidities like children being handcuffed and lawyers not being allowed to talk to those arrested.

There may be those who believe that we should stick strictly to the law. But as someone once said, the law can be an ass.

Just because a law is there doesn’t preclude using one’s brains to think of wiser ways to handle a situation. And sticking strictly to the rules isn’t necessarily the wisest thing to do.

Ultimately it is about showing wisdom, a virtue that, unfortunately, our leaders have consistently failed to show.

The law is also supposed to be neutral. Despite the neutral-sounding noises before the two planned demos, one demo did not materialise, which had two effects.

One, it made the actual demonstrators look bad because there is nothing to compare them with.

Two, it allowed for some overwhelming smugness on the part of the lone pro-ISA supporter, claiming to represent 100,000 others, who apparently could hand over his memo at leisure and unmolested. (It turned out his claim that he had delivered the memo was untrue.)

He did still feel the need to hide his T-shirt, which says plenty about his ideas about openness.

What did the tear gas achieve? It lost at least 20,000 votes for the government, even more if you count those not participating but concerned anyway. It lost the votes of those who inadvertently got caught in the mess.

But here’s the thing. While the middle of the city was all eye-stinging chaos, the rest of the city functioned as normal.

People went out lunching and shopping as they would any Saturday, all the while keeping tabs of what was happening on their mobiles.

The city did not shut down; nobody felt any fear of the consequences of such demos. At the same time, they were not oblivious to what the demo was all about.

Which is a sign of the maturity of our people. While the doomsayers are trying to paint demos as the end of all civilisation, the public proved they are indeed civilised, more so than politicians anytime.