Saturday, July 05, 2008

Civil Society in Malaysia (Part 1) : Possibilty or Impossibility?

Recent events seem to confirm that we as a society are eons away from establishing a civil society possessing a cohort of intellectually critical minds who are able to dissect issues dispassionately and rationally. The notion of a civil society itself blossoming in Malaysia is far fetched, to put it mildly as much of the discourse about it and the philosophical constructs underpinning such a society has been dominated by an entirely urban, English educated middle or upper class elite who have a nary thought of the realities on the ground in vast swathes of the Malaysian landscape. Much of the issues and thoughts articulated are couched within a secular-liberal paradigm that collide with the more conservative outlook that shrouds most Malaysian minds. While idealistic notions of justice, equality and freedom (in expression, religion etcetra) are appealing by themselves to certain segments of urbanites, the populace in general are unreceptive to the flowering of such ideas as they clash with a mindset shaped by a multitude of factors. The purveyors of the egalitarian, equality and freedom mantra do not seem to realise that the embrace of these notions are premised on several variables that underpin the fabric of Malaysian society. These variables include religion, income level, education and knowledge level and world view. In a series of blogs, i will try to explain what i mean by these variables and why essentially they collide with the notion of civil society as espoused by several segments of society.

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