MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Thursday, May 19, 2022

I will give Siti Kasim and GI a chance


Firstly, congratulations to Siti Kasim, our good lawyer and activist now in the public limelight… again. It’s all systems go for the ever-vocal lady, noted as a firebrand who will not hesitate to speak up for the downtrodden.

Siti’s (above) service centre and website are up. Her plunge into politics is for real. Batu, get ready, here comes Siti Kasim!

On Monday, Siti posted on her Facebook page that she had received her first client in her new centre. She considered that a historic moment and was very proud that her new facility was living up to its purpose.

So, what do we understand about Siti and her Gerak Independent (GI) group?

This is what I can gather in a nutshell. Of course, I stand corrected. I could be wrong.

There is the perception that the current crop of career politicians and political parties in their embedded patronage system would not be able to fulfil the hopes and aspirations of Malaysians.

The system has been in place for too long and it isn’t working anymore. Politics in Malaysia has digressed and Malaysians are bracing for the worst to come when we shouldn’t be.

Sparking change

Siti and company want to offer something new which should work in the interests of the common folks in the long haul.

Politics will be more personal and hands-on in the absence of interfering party warlords. I believe it will be politics guided by the heart, mind and conscience.

Siti explained on May 10: “But I and many of my friends - individually and in NGOs - have come to realise that we are not going to get there as a Malaysia that prospers for all with what we have today.

“The political will and the political dynamics were not there to usher in a new era. We were recycling politicians and creating new ones in the same mould of the entrenched political party system on both sides of the aisle.

“We need to spark a change. Even if we start small. That was how Gerak Independent was formed,” she said.

I believe Siti and company first started talking about GI about two years ago. After the failure of Pakatan Harapan to deliver coupled with the hijack of the government via the Sheraton Move, things were never the same again.

Bersatu leaders meeting at the Sheraton Hotel amid a political coup to overthrow the then Harapan government in February 2020

It is true to say that the majority of Malaysians were politically jaded and the general feeling was that politicians, from both sides, could not be trusted anymore.

Certain quarters were even calling for a boycott of the elections. I must concede the idea resonated with me too. Why should I bother turning up to vote for politicians I do not trust or have absolutely no faith in? Many must have felt the same.

Siti and GI and their supporters were correct – the current politics of patronage exercised by all parties do not prioritise the people and that was particularly glaring after the Sheraton putsch.

Treachery was at its height and it has been every man and woman (even among MPs within the same party and coalition) for himself and herself since Feb 2020.

Look at the MPs we have today. It is not only the people who do not trust them. Most of them do not even trust one another and it is said that everyone is worried about being stabbed in the back.

Yet, the majority of the MPs, I’m sure, will still be offering themselves for re-election. So, we will still be getting the same old, same old, recycled career politicians with nothing bright and positive on the horizon to look forward to after the next general election.

Why not?

Well, if that is the case, why not give Siti and GI a chance? I will, not because I think they will change my life in any way should some of them be elected, but because voting for change brings a glimmer of hope for the better. Things have gotten so bad that not taking a risk at change is no longer an option.

In August 2020, GI held a webinar, with the catchy title “Gerak Independent: Your first reluctant statesman”. The panellists, including Siti, discussed voting individuals by their values and capability and ditching political parties which had failed Malaysians again and again.

This is where I can readily agree with Siti and GI. The individual is important, not the party. A party is only a platform for you to use during an election.

Let me explain. For example, Lim Kit Siang will always be himself, no matter which party he is in. Don’t expect Lim to change. Even if he is in PAS, he will still be himself with the same political ideologies and principles.

In the Sarawak elections last December, my message to my fellow Sarawakians was similar – vote for the individual candidate, not the party. This is how and where I know where Siti and GI are coming from, and I must be confident to add, where they are going too.

Siti and GI might be fielding a small team of candidates but that is a start. They do not claim they can change the world or save Malaysia but I believe the group meant well and are sincere, honest and patriotic citizens with a vision and a mission. Give them a chance.

To Siti and GI, Godspeed. Seriously, if I were 20 years younger, I would have signed up with you. Now, I can still root for you guys on the sidelines. - Mkini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is a veteran Sarawak editor and heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS). He can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

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