Remembering Ijok, reminding Permatang Pauh

By Dr. Azly Rahman

In Ijok, did the people vote wisely? Or did they vote for the continuation of the use of totalitarian instruments such as the Internal Security Act, Universities and University Colleges Act, irrational preferential treatments, unsolved mysteries of massive corruption cases, rise of dynasties, political violence, postponement of trial of hideous political murders, abuse of “at-risk youths”, political-economy of controlling interests, age-old vendetta, hideous nature of the separation of power between the executive, legislative, and judiciary, and an ever-growing range of complex “rational” acts that have become our “political culture”?

What does “wise” mean? Is the level of wisdom dependent upon the levels of consciousness of the different “class” and “caste” of people?

Looks like the middle class is co-opted to support the dominant political group, the lower-class is busy making ends meet, and the lowest class is now the unsung heroes of the postmodern indentured slavery.

We do not have yet have a critical mass that can think critically to effect critical change.

Beginning or end?

Is Ijok the end or the beginning of a better evolution of a system of check and balances? Is it a Hegelian-styled emergence of political consciousness that saw the power of sophisticated blogging and Prime Media spinning and raw kampong-styled voting realism as a creative play of election hypocrisy?

If the Opposition actually brought “instant and irrational development projects” to Ijok, will this trend continue? Will the presence of the Opposition drain the ruling party of goodies – just like how the American Empire is drained off of resources with the presence of massive, subaltern forces of resistance in the case of Iraq?

These are some questions that we will need to answer, as a nation. Ijok was a beginning of an end – end of an ignorance of how campaigning work, of how politicians behave, or how promises are made, and how many millions are spent to buy votes.

Our road to political wisdom is long and winding. Man is defined by the economic condition they are in, Marx would argue. Could this be the definition of the voters in Ijok? In this electorate we read so much about instant political gratifications given by the government, as if the regime is spending its last dollar to appease the masses that have actually learned what a “protest vote” means. Very sophisticated voters we have who now know how to play with authority and to counter-hegemonize.

But where does ethics and morality lies both in the giver and the receiver? What have all the slogans – from “bersih, cekap, amanah” to “bukan harta dunia yang ku cari ” – done to the masses when elections such as Ijok come? Where are we going as a nation when we no longer have any shame through all the sleek, sophisticated, selfish, soul-less, and slimy strategies we read concerning the choosing of a leader in a sleepy-constituency-turned-case study of the semiotics of power/knowledge and signs, symbols and signification of “Boleh-land”?

Where is truth?

What was that by-election about? Can we ever know the truth? Is this “truth”, like the “Butterfly Effect,” that will multiply in the next General Election?

Any changes in the system, however random and small it is can create major shifts in the ecosystem, as such as the flap of a butterfly wing in the Amazon some ten years ago that will have created hurricanes and thunderstorms in New Orleans – such is a “Butterfly Effect”. Of the impact of randomness and chaos in creating turbulence.

Apply this notion of Complexity Theory to Ijok and we may predict what the Malaysian general election may look like. Will there be utter chaos in Ijok – a battleground to settle old scores?

More of Azly’s thoughts at

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