At the Bayon temple, the unknown Khmer artists and craftsmen were able to produced extremely detailed bas-relief carvings of Khmer political history on the gallery walls. This multi-level waring scenes show events of their conquest and defeat of their enemies. Politics -conflicts of interest- at that time was mostly settled through violence, by going to war with each other.
The Bayon temple, is the heart of the temple complex, built by the ambitious builder, Buddhist King, Jayavarman VII, in 1181. This style of building, the Bayon Style, began to replace the previous dominant Hindu influences. All the statues of any value had been plundered over time but this wall picture of Khmer history is well-preserved. I saw it for the first time a few weeks back when I visited Cambodia.
This picture of barbarism with solders killing and elephants trampling on opposing sides reminded me somewhat of what had happened in Kuala Lumpur last Saturday 1 August. Malaysians made political history by marching in the street with opposing views of the Internal Security Act, a long-standing law allowing detention without trial.
But one would imagine that after 900 years of waring history in this region, we would have learn t to settle our disagreements, alliances and balances of power without resorting to using the Malaysian riot police to fire tear gas and water cannons into its own citizens’ gathering.
When can we resolve our diferences among us without resort to violence and imtimidation, so that we can be stronger, freer and happier?
Equality under the rule of law, Inequality under the ISA
The lawyers from the Malaysian Bar Council and many other civil society groups and also opposition politicians, had all declared, in one way or the other, that we have adequate laws in place to deal with the security and lawlessness in the country and that there is no need to use the ISA to arrest and imprison indefinitely any Malaysians without a proper open trial in our courts. This is an inclination towards political tyranny and inequality.
What Malaysians have been longing for, in the last 51 years, is for a time of political maturity, where, talent and hard work matters (not race and religion), loyalty is not automatically owned to any one and that respect for each other had to be earned and not demanded by using tyrannical threats and intimidation like the ISA.
Ironically, we have inherited the old form of tyranny from which we have emerged as a nation but that has been transformed by our present government to oppressive its electorates.
So, we are eagerly awaiting the next change of government (legitimate or otherwise), as this present group is not doing what they had been elected to do, which is to protect the country from abuse of power and leading us to the road to despotism and despair.
Freedom under the rule of law, tyranny under the ISA
The behaviours of our recently elected representatives in government in Malaysia are becoming increasingly authoritarian and in an arbitrarily manner. Using the Internal Security Act (ISA) they had, in this month, arrested four Malaysians and later released three (Tan Hoon Cheng a reporter, Teresa Kok a parliamentarian, Sheih a blogger) and detained one (Raja Petra a blogger) for a two year period.
These four and many thousands of other Malaysians who had challenged their elected parliamentarians’ authority in the business of governing the country are labelled as ‘a threat to the security of the country’. The reasons for their arrest and sudden release or continued detention show that the cabinet is in disarray and autocratic, with internal ‘power struggle’ going on in the ruling party. To covering up their in-house political struggle, they have in the meantime, created a situation of fear among their electorates.
These politicians, over the years in power, had not been listening to the peoples’ concerns which are ideas that promote open debate, equality, honesty and fairness. The official responds to these request of basic Human Rights is to use the ISA on its citizens. This is what Malaysians want to change and we hope it will come soon.