Sunday, July 19, 2009

Many Routes to Justice : A Menu

("Oh, you're an A4/M8 person? I'm A2/M7")

It should be safe to say that awareness of (and outrage at) political injustice and oppression is growing, what with the recent case of Teoh Beng Hock's death NEAR, if not AT, the hands of the MACC. It also shouldn't be too unsafe to say that whilst many people want to get involved, not many know how.

Partisan politics isn't for everyone and even the term civil advocacy can't quite shake-off the partisan baggage.

Attending virgils and rallies are exciting but let's face it a stadium (let alone the front lawn of a police station or a government building) can only contain so many people. Furthermore, gatherings can't be a daily affair. Not only that, but if everyone focused exclusively on political repression or corruption, many other issues would be neglected.

So here's a menu (for lack of a better word) for the way the 'average person' can get 'involved' (that's two loaded words too many, eh?).

("If A1/M3 is out for you, why not try A1/2?")

The Areas one can focus on (in order of perceived importance in Malaysia right now):
  1. Governmental justice (everything from the I.S.A, racial tension and money politics to rigged elections, unlawful arrests and mysterious tragic deaths)
  2. Health / Education (e.g. H1N1, teaching in English, etc.)
  3. Religious Harmony (the 'Allah' issue, Muslim conversions, etc.)
  4. Social (e.g. drug addiction, poverty, domestic violence, immigrant welfare, indigenous lands, etc.)
  5. Environment (e.g. deforestation in Borneo, carbon sinks, replenishment of fisheries, alternative energy, etc.)
  6. Corporate Social Responsibility (ensuring MNCs' tow the line with respect to all the above)

It's tempting to say that the six items overlap (and it's hard to doubt they do) but the point remains that often we can only specialise on one, or at most two, areas. Any more and we lose focus.

Next, the Methods could include (in order of popularity - debatable, of course):
  1. Use online social networking media (e.g. facebook, blogging, etc.)
  2. Use traditional networking media (e.g. conversations[!], teaching/preaching, etc.)
  3. Participate in events (forums, rallies, vigils, etc.)
  4. Give money
  5. Pray (probably the most under-rated "political activity" around)
  6. Join a political party
  7. Make distinct lifestyle choices / habits (e.g. refuse to buy Brand X or patronise Outlet Y(
  8. Make distinct business decisions
  9. Enter the industry / domain (e.g. healthcare, education, etc.)
  10. Work with an NGO (and do all kinds of things from distributing pamphlets to feeding the poor to rebuilding broken homes)
  11. Take the scholarly route (a'la Farish Noor)
Again, certainly people can (and do) engage in two or more methods regularly, but if the issue is that not enough people are getting involved, then laying down the options might help and encouraging people to engage in just ONE of the above ought to suffice as a start.

The challenge, if we can accept something like the above, is to see every node to be as critical as any other. E.g. being a 'A3/M5' person needn't be any less important than the more popular 'A1/M3'.

Whatever combination chosen, we would be doing at least four things: learning, persuading, sharing and acting.


Barbsie said...

Oh I so agree that M5 is under-rated!

blogpastor said...

The Malaysian church certainly seems more aware of seeking justice than the church in Singapore. I thank God that out of the chaos and national challenges you guys face continually, the church is united and strong in this area. We have much to learn from you all.

alwyn said...

barb ~ absoluto!

kenny ~ good to hear from u again, when you resuming yr blogging??

blogpastor said...

Just started. Do visit.