Monday, March 10, 2008

Let's talk politics

If you've noticed, I've kept politics out of my posts since I started, but I've been compelled to reply to this. Recently, my good friend Khairul Syahir authored a post, titled 'Don't talk about politics with me'. He cites three main reasons for his stand:
  1. We're 19.
  2. We don't know much about politics
  3. When we base our judgments solely on biased sources, it is only right that our judgments are biased too.
Go read his post for the full context of his claims.

Anyway, the past week has been fraught with these 'political discussions', and just about everyone, from the canteen lady to a particular Business teacher we have has been heatedly discussing the political happenings around us. But the have every right to, seeing that they're eligible voters.

How about us then? People like me, who can't do pretty much anything but talk, talk and talk about the elections?
  1. We're 19
Actually, I'm 18. And you'd be in for a shock when you find that many others younger than us do 'talk politics' as well. You might think it's a waste of time, since we can't vote or anything, but I beg to differ. Apply the same logic to say, a football fan.

Quote: 'No matter how hard we believe in any party (or team) , we are not eligible yet to vote (we can't do anything about it). So I might as well save my energy and time doing something else like doing my EE or writing my Maths IA or reading up on Special Theory of Relativity that would actually benefits me as a 19-year-old instead of indulging in politics that I cannot do anything about (watching football which I cannot do anything about).'

Why then do 19 year olds everywhere continue watching football, or even talking politics?

Look, I'm pretty darn sure that on the 9th of March, a day after the elections you picked up the newspapers and read about how everyone fared this elections. Why so?

It's simply because we have an interest in the outcome. Like the football fan, he can go die happy if his team Y wins the whatever cup. Likewise, as Malaysians, we are all stakeholders in the governing body. Whatever happens to them will inevitably affect us in some way or another. So we talk politics, to keep ourselves abreast with the news. Don't get us wrong Khairul, it's not all about bashing certain Son-in-Laws or other politicians. It's also healthy discourse, and this leads to more critical thinking. Maybe we've come across as BN bashers and Opposition worshipers, but really, we point out flaws in both, give merits where we can. It's really idiotic of us if we were to delude ourselves into thinking that any one party is perfect. We're not that stupid.

And heck, talking politics is pretty darn fun.
  1. .
  2. We don't know much about politics
Honestly, I see no reason why we have to dig up the history of the ruling parties, read books by leaders of parties, etc etc. What we want to know is what is relevant today. What we want to know is simply whether or not the contesting parties can deliver the points stated on their glorious manifestos. You don't have to dig that far back. Just look from 4 years ago, the previous elections, when many promises were made and not so many were fulfilled. It's not hearsay, it's not biased opinions or dubious secondary sources. It's the facts. Crime rates, inflation, economic growth. These aren't things you come by digging up the history of parties or leaders. It's facts we've felt around us, facts that have been drilled into our heads every time we read about a missing child, a horrific murder and increasingly commonplace crime. We don't have to know much about politics, we just want to know who can deliver, and who the real incompetents are.

Admittedly, I understand where you're coming from, when you consider all those bandwagon jumpers, who only stop to gossip about politics when the elections swing by. Your points would be validly justified on those people. But some of us aren't that fickle. We have a real interest in what goes on in the country.


3. When we base our judgments solely on biased sources, it is only right that our judgments are biased too.

We've been studying fallacies in TOK (Theory of Knowledge) for a year now. Do you think I would subject myself to such non-objectivity? And don't you think that through discourse we are able to apply, first hand, all we've learned in our TOK lessons, like identifying fallacies in certain ideas or thought? Like I said, there's probably nothing dumber you can do than do delude yourself by only reading one-sided views. Personally, I do try to get my news from as many sources as possible. Unfortunately though, not everyone tries.

Quote : 'When we support one view, we tend to look for everything that goes in support of it. If we support PAS for example, we read Harakah and accept all while dismissing all in the national newspaper.'

Maybe you're referring to the anti-establishment sentiments that have been running hot in the veins of young urbanites like some of our classmates. It's partly true that we can't do anything about it, but at the very least, as rational thinkers, by engaging in a discussion you might bring them to the 'light', so to speak.

There's probably a lot more we can say about this, but I'll stop here. You've chosen not to talk about politics, fine and well, I respect your choice. I, however, will beg to differ.

I will talk politics, and if not with you, with another.

8 comments:

Khairul Syahir said...

Good to actually have somebody go all the way writing a reply to my post =)

Well, Jon Mah, as I said there are a lot of things that we don't know about politics. That's why the importance of digging up facts. If we are going to stand only by the facts presented to us, and we all know who those presenters are, then I'd say we'll only know very little.

Yes, we can talk about nuclear weapons even when we're only 15 years old. My point is that, the context in which these 19-year-old people talk about politic is down right to fanatic support to certain parties. When we're 19, we talk from the point of view of a 19-year-old. Fine, nothing wrong with that. What's wrong is what we put into these talks. Are they mere bashings and curse words like somebody did in the cafeteria the other day? Or are they clever knowledgeable talks? If it's the latter, oh yes I'd be pleased to talk about politics. Just that I see the former applies more than the latter. So there's no point listening to people cursing other people. Heck, Islam event prohibits that.

"deliver the points stated on their glorious manifestos"
Okay, maybe you have a valid point there. But honestly, how many of us ever read their manifesto?

"It's facts we've felt around us, facts that have been drilled into our heads every time we read about a missing child, a horrific murder and increasingly commonplace crime."
Yes, these things happen, and it's a sad fact that they happen. But we must also take consideration of the economy, how our KLCI index has increased far more than it was in 2004. I don't know much about economy, so I'm not gonna talk a lot about it. That's just for an example. The point is, utopian nation is a dream. Who can rightfully say that if the Opposition wins the Government, these things will be reversed?

"We don't have to know much about politics, we just want to know who can deliver, and who the real incompetents are."
Sadly, we cannot know who is competent or who is not, unless after we let them try. Even Mahathir regretted choosing Badawi as his successor. Will we regret giving 5 state helms to the Opposition this time? Seriously, no one know. Only time will tell.

But anyway, I think I need to make my points clear. I do not talk rubbish politics, where all people do is curse and bash and find other people's faults. I talk knowledgeable politics, where all parties are equal and right and wrong applies to everyone, where fact is carefully weighted and not just blindly accepted, where not just the events are discussed but also the relevance of that event and what it holds for the future. If you talk such knowledgeable politics, then come talk to me. We'll have a chat.

But of course, now that the General Election is over, will anyone talk about politics anymore?

Just points to ponder.

Jonathan Mah said...

'But of course, now that the General Election is over, will anyone talk about politics anymore?'

I will. I'm sincerely interested in folliwng-up on the opposition and how they deliver out their promises to the people.

'But we must also take consideration of the economy, how our KLCI index has increased far more than it was in 2004.'

I don't know much about our economy either, but I can tell you this. Despite our seemingly 'booming' economy, why do we still feel so burdened by rising costs of things? It's a point frequently brought up by the opposition, that the economic development in Malaysia has not trickled down to ordinary folk like us. It's stuck somewhere up there in the hierarchy. That's why, in my opinion, popular vote went to the opposition.

'"deliver the points stated on their glorious manifestos"
Okay, maybe you have a valid point there. But honestly, how many of us ever read their manifesto?'

I did, both opposition and BN. This and a few other reasons, this will be why I'll continue 'talking politics'.

You see, friend, we'll probably have lots to say over many other things. We should have a chat in the cafeteria one day.

I belanja la. :)

danial syafiq said...

yes jonmah i truly agree with your take on this.

well, after reading khairul's post the other day, i myself had the same idea of retorting (or at least to justify why i think otherwise) what he mentioned.

but then again, i thought to myself, "i don't think i have the authority to do this" coz simply said, i do not have that much knowledge in politics (read THAT MUCH). not saying i'm totally clueless.

and yes, my command of language (especially when it comes to politics where things are often taken out of context) isn't as good as some others (in this case yours jonmah) so i thought maybe someone who expresses himself better can justify why some of us have different opinions.

i might agree with some of your points khairul, they do make sense. some of them however are a lil bit absurd, so to say. case in point: us being 19.

coz come on let's face it, everything now revolves around politics. from the school management (be it a govt or private school, as i've experienced both) right up to the 88th floor of the twin towers, there's always a tinge of politics involved.

so it is our responsibility to be aware of the political situation, coz whether you like it or not, sooner or later, you'll be faced with a similar situation where you just have to make a decision, equipped with what knowledge you have (this i refer to a general context, not strictly on elections).

so, being ignorant now at 19, doesn't really help you later on in life. or else, why would najib run for election when he was just a mere 22-year old? or a more recent example, nik nazmi for seri setia, he's just 26. (both of them won btw)

be wise.

p/s some might agree with me, others may not. it's just the way the world works.c

Anonymous said...

Our "booming" economy is going nowhere to say the least. Heck, even the head of the Reserve Bank of Australia says that Malaysia will suffer the most from the US economic depression. Who's to say that we've grown when we've exchanged our valuables (oil) for the short-lived momentos that collects dust on the shelf?

Jonathan Mah said...

thanks pau. i fully agree with you saying 'we have to be aware of the political situation'.

if not we'll be caught unaware, when the time comes for us to make our choices.

Apathy is no excuse.

Jonathan Mah said...

Anon,

What I meant be 'booming' was that as claimed by the Government, while in actuality it wasn't at all. And I'm sorry when I say that I don't understand your sentence 'Who's to say that we've grown when we've exchanged our valuables (oil) for the short-lived momentos that collects dust on the shelf?'

Perhaps you might wanna explain that? No pressure :)

Syed Marwan said...

We've been discussing the mismanagement of resources in, i'd say almost all of the economics classes.
And like people say, hell yeah! our country's economy is like an effing condom.
it allows inflation,
halts production,
destroys the next generation,
protects a bunch of pricks,
and gives up a sense of security while we are actually being screwed!

Jonathan Mah said...

mismanagement of resources! that's probably the biggest economic problem in the world. that, and the uneven distribution of resources.

Not that I would know la, since I don't take econs, but it should be something like that.

I heard the condom thing at some ceramah too. And the fact that it's absolutely spot on is just hilarious.