THE PARABLE OF THE RAIN TREE – a personal experience

Posted on March 4, 2009

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While some watch birds, I have always preferred trees myself. The best break I ever have always involves sitting where my eyes can behold the wonders of trees, unfailingly and truly a sight for my tired eyes, mind and heart.

Coming from Taiping, my favourite tree is the raintree, tall and sprawling. At the Taiping Lake Gardens, the branches of the raintree majestically bend down towards the water forming a manificent canopy of green archways over the road. You haven’t been to Taiping without cycling or driving under those archways, a singular sublime experience to cherish for a very long time.

As a matter of fact, raintrees do last a long time. In Taiping, they were there long before I was born and no doubt will be there long after my time on this earth.

What better symbol therefore for the status of Perak democracy than the humble raintree!

Derogatory talk therefore of the extraordinary session of the Perak State Assembly convened on Tuesday 3 March 2009 at 10.20am under the raintree across the road from the Perak State Secretariat Building is completely misplaced, shortsighted and shallow.

Barred from their normal home by the FRU, the State Assembly conducted its session under the raintree. As I walked towards it, I was recognised by some drivers/bodyguards and given access finding myself suddenly no more than thirteen feet from the Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) and just five feet from the Speaker of the Assembly surrounded by full-suited state assemblymen. The business was conducted in an orderly, solemn manner and even the large crowd forming the outer circle quickly caught the mood and followed the proceedings in a reverent and respectful manner. For an outdoor environment, this was no small achievement.

Elsewhere this proceeding may have been much maligned and pronounced illegal but being there I saw nothing that was in any way discrediting to the august assembly.

In fact, this was very much a people’s parliament. As the rakyat, common people had access to the State Assembly proceedings. They came from all walks of life, dressed properly but without having to don formal (and expensive) clothes. As many who wanted to observe the proceedings had access to it. Despite the absence of the usual forbidding uniformed security personnel, neither myself nor the countless others sensed a security threat. The agenda was to the point and understandable to those present.

If this was not exemplary of what democracy should be, what is? It was people-friendly, accessible, pro-rakyat, responsible, responsive, orderly but welcoming. A kind of going home to the kampung or home-town feeling. Before my eyes, a grassroot state assembly session was taking place.

It was an intensely uplifting reinvigorating experience for me; a lesson in grassroot democracy. In one extraordinary moment, we see that democracy is by the people, of the people and for the people. Its symbolism is full of meaning, encouraging much imagination and dreams. YES WE CAN!

For all these weeks, the people could see only blockages, their wishes denied at every stage. By-elections for the three seats deemed to have fallen vacant with the presigned resignation letters; “No!” says the elections commission. Dissolution of the state assembly to pave the way for fresh elections; “No!” says the Ruler. Extraordinary session of the State Assembly; “No!” says the High Court. Entry into the State Assembly Hall; “No!” says the Federal Reserve Unit.

We saw only the negative, prevent-at-all cost strategy of the “new government”. Conscious or not, the message which comes out to the people is completely straightforward and unmistakable: “We just want to form the government without having to face elections by the people or having to prove our majority status by facing the state assembly; our claims to legitmacy is sufficient proof.”

Among its virtues, the humble raintree is resilient, durable, weather-hardened, withstanding years upon years of abuse of every kind. Without dedicated care or favour, it survives on its own. Left on its own, it thrives and grows. Human intervention and interference on the raintree is for human convenience not necessarily for the sake of the raintree.

After fifty-one years of independence, we Malaysians are now on a daily basis clearly seeing the strong arm of interested parties dismantling the pillars of democracy and the blatant attempts at bringing about the alchemy of the separation of powers. The signs are ominous and the times are very worrisome.

If not under the raintree, with all its comforting symbols of peace, hope, persistence, perseverance and durability, where else should I take my stand? Where else may I find shelter from the ruthless elements?

 

  

  

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Posted in: Parables