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LAST_UPDATEFri, 22 Jun 2018 11pm

Malaysians Need To Change Their Mindset Following The Change In Government

File pic: WonderpolisFile pic: Wonderpolis

When PKR vice president Rafizi Ramli took to Twitter to voice out his dissatisfaction with the nomination of three cabinet portfolios by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad early last week, he was publicly criticised and hounded even by his own Pakatan allies.

"I am absolutely horrified at Rafizi Ramli’s criticism of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s initial appointments and at PKR vice-president Wong Chen coming to his defence," one Pakatan supporter felt sufficiently incensed to write an open letter to The Star over it.

Former Bersih 2.0 chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan even tweeted back with a strong reprimand directed at Rafizi.

“Stop this nonsense,” the former Malaysian Bar president tweeted.

What does this outburst by netizens and prominent members of his own coalition show?

While it is not odd to see PH politicians being vocal about their personal and party’s opinions while they were in the Opposition bloc, should they continue to air it publicly as they had been doing before now that they are the ruling coalition?

Can Malaysians Accept The Culture Of Criticism In The New Government?

This culture of publicly disagreeing with each other even though they are on the same side continued through the week.

When the prime minister announced his Parti Pribumi’s Dr Maszlee Malik as the new Education Minister, the tide of criticism even led to an online petition to replace him with Mahathir again, with allegations of extremist leanings being levelled against him.

Unexpectedly, it was Pakatan’s coalition allies DAP who chose to speak up for Dr Maszlee.

Segambut’s newly elected MP Hannah Yeoh and DAP party adviser Lim Kit Siang both publicly tweeted their support for Dr Mazlee, urging Malaysians to give him a chance to prove himself.

Going forward, should Malaysians expect this public show of dissent among their elected leaders as the new normal?

Nash, 29, thinks that Rafizi and those within PH who do not hold government positions should continue with their ways of voicing out their concerns since their non-membership will not create chaos in the governmental system.

“He is an outsider looking in so I think his insights, as well as anyone else’s, should continue to be given as a way to remind those in power.

“Although some might argue he should have done it privately instead of blasting out his opinion on social media, I think what he did was acceptable since it made more people aware of what was going on.

“In a sense, this way there will be more transparency in the government and as long as those in power do not blast out policies on Twitter like how the US President does, then I think it should be fine,” he shared.

After he was heavily criticised for his tweet, Rafizi expressed his concern that the mindset of the people are not freed despite the change in government for the first in over 60 years.

“A lot of people are celebrating the new free government but they are not free of the old mindset while previously under BN.

“I have repeated many times in all my ceramah: I am not worried that PH will win. I worry that the victory will not free the mindset of the people,” he tweeted.

Rafizi’s sentiment was shared by Umairah, 33, who thinks that Malaysians need to be more mature when it comes to public discourse, especially on social media.

“It seems a bit distasteful when people are quick to criticise and insult politicians that voice their view about their party’s opinions when they are actually speaking the truth.

“If we are to condemn those who are willing to speak up on behalf of the people, we are condemning ourselves to how it was before.

“We laud that we have progressed because we managed to change the government, but what would it be without the change in mindset?” she argued.

Tun Daim Zainuddin Criticised Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Who In Turn Criticised Tun Daim. Should This Be The New Normal?

Political analyst Prof Dr Ahmad Atory Hussain thinks that Rafizi’s or any other politicians’ criticism is not a big deal as it does not affect anything much.

Prof Dr Ahmad Atory Hussain. File pic: Kosmo!Prof Dr Ahmad Atory Hussain. File pic: Kosmo!“I don’t think that it will cause instability within the PH coalition because these people have been in politics for a very long time and so they are more matured in dealing with criticism.

“Their maturity is displayed when they did not show any signs of being hurt by the comments being made as the culture of criticism has been present within the politicians in PH,” he said.

He gave an example of how there were no bad feelings or a fracture in their unity when Tun Daim Zainuddin criticised Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who in turn criticised Tun Daim.

“They can accept criticism, if the criticism is true then what do they need to be mad about?” he said while believing that PH leaders have accepted the culture of criticism in a healthy way.

He also stressed that it is important for politicians to critique each other as a check and balance system and if we question this culture too much, we are already closing the door to democracy, which is not good.

“I think we should welcome and normalise the culture of criticism, whether they are good or bad is another matter, because there is no reason for politicians should be offended about being criticised.

“If a lot of people are easily offended once they are criticised, even when they have done something wrong, we would revert to how things were before,” he said.

He argues that receiving criticism will not bring about anything bad because if they pretend that everything is good and brushing off the fact that there are things that need to be righted, the PH coalition would not be able to retain their position in the next election.

“Do not follow the way of UMNO, like how Khairy Jamaluddin regretted not being honest when he saw that there was something wrong going on, thanks to the culture of being afraid to oppose the leader,” he warned.

Prof Atory also commented on how netizens behave on social media, where he believes that the situation will correct itself over time.

“I think this is just the beginning and I believe those who write these inflammatory posts lack education, discipline and civic-mindedness but would gradually be better a few years down the road; let them be familiar with this transition.

“However, we cannot control too much, unless it gets out of hand, because too much control will lead us back to square one,” he said.

Datuk Ambiga Sreevasan, lawyer and former chairperson of electoral reform movement Bersih, thinks otherwise as she believes that those in the ruling party should not behave as when they were in the Opposition.

Datuk Ambiga Sreevasan. File pic: HakamDatuk Ambiga Sreevasan. File pic: Hakam“There are for me issues of collective responsibility for example.

“You can see Tun Dr Mahathir took an oath of secrecy when he was sworn in he so those members of cabinet etc. will have to do the same thing and there are reasons for that because otherwise we might as well have cabinet meetings in the Selangor padang and televise it.

“I mean there are reasons why there must be a level of secrecy,” she said in an interview on BFM.

She clarified that it was not about not being accountable but there should be a level of secrecy when it comes to negotiations or discussions.

“We don’t want to know about you having 47 seats therefore you need to have more.

“The public should not have to deal with that issue. You need to deal with it behind closed doors and you need to resolve it behind closed doors,” she stressed.

Change In Mindset Only Possible If Acceptance Is Achieved, Says Psychologist

But would it be possible for people to change the mindset that they have been holding on to for so long?

Even those who run our public institutions appear to adhere to the old ways of dealing with criticism.

Earlier in the week, police acted on complaints by several NGOs who were unhappy with the insulting statements a man in Langkawi posted on Facebook against Mahathir by arresting the individual, while a day later, Kedah police detained another man from Alor Setar for allegedly posting a message on Facebook expressing a wish to step on or kick a picture of Mahathir.

Both arrests were made under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. However, Mahathir himself and even his party allies publicly spoke out against the arrest.

Dr Johanna, a practicing psychologist, said that it is very much possible, but it depends on the individual and identifying which method suits them.

“While some individuals are able to change their mindset through exposure/experience or mental growth, some may require more convincing i.e. through conversing and so forth,” she shared.

Although she admits that it is difficult for someone to change their way of thinking, it could be achieved if the individual in question could find acceptance within themselves to listen to difference in perspective, opinion and so forth.

“Next, the individual will need to give themselves permission to analyse it.

“From analysing, they will then decide whether to accept it or reject it.

“Bear in mind that the duration for each step vary — the longest is typically acceptance, as acceptance comes with maturity,” she explained.

And this process usually takes between six months and two years.

“But typically it will take up to 14 months as majority of people take time to acceptance difference in opinion and etc.” she said.

Since the new PH government was formed just over a week ago, Malaysians have plenty of time to change the way they think for a better Malaysia before the next general election comes around.

As mentioned several times earlier, criticism is not bad but we need to be mature about what we are criticising about.

-mD