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TJ AT: Mahathir dan Milosevic
By Kapal Berita
16/10/2000 6:04 pm Mon
SELAT YANG MALANG (Dire Straits)
Bila President Yugoslavia jatuh selepas 13 tahun berkuasa,
penyokong "reformasi" terbayang2 kejatuhan Mahathir juga yang
telah memerintah selama 19 tahun.
Dalam kegirangan penduduk Yugoslavia meraikan kemenangan, seorang
penulis bebas bertanya kepada Mahathir di Cambridge:
"Bila anda mahu bersara?".
Sebelum itu beliau telah menyenaraikan beberapa kes salah-laku
dan penaganiayaan oleh pnetadbiran Mahathir.
Di dalam satu surat kepada laman Malaysiakini, "Girl Nobody",
seorang penulis siber yang kebetulan berada di Cambridge
menceritakan bagaimana beliau dipandang semacam setelah
mengucap perkataan "R" (reformasi) dengan beraninya.
Maka beliau disoal pelbagai soalan peribadi selepas itu oleh
beberapa orang yang bernafas kuat disekeliling beliau.
Terdapat kebimbangan tindakan balas seperti menarik balik biasiswa
menyebabkan tidak ramai pelajar Malaysia di luar negara berani
menentang Mahathir secara terbuka. Pelajar yang lain pula merasa
kurang senang jika kehadiran mereka diabadikan dalam filem sebuah
Semasa di Chicago baru-baru ini, sekumpulan kecil pelajar yang
berdemo telah direkod dalam filem video. Malah semasa program
latihan hak asasi manusia di KL bulan Julai lalu, seorang juru kamera
dari syarikat TV swasta sengaja mengambil video semua baris
penonton yang ada.
Di Cambridge minggu lepas terdapat beberapa pegawai dan jurufoto
mengambil gambar kira2 30 pendemo, termasuk 5 warga Malaysia, yang
membantah Mahathir di luar dewan. Rencana Sabri Zain tempoh hari sudah cukup
untuk menggambarkan untuk apakah mereka melakukan sedemikian -
iaitu mengintip dan menghukum.
"Tidak semua diktator terkuat akan berkuasaselamanya", kata Jan Oberg,
pengarah Transnational Foundation fro Peace and Future Research.
"Milosevic tidak dapat berbuat apa-apa bila pihak polis enggan
mematuhi arahan dan sebaliknya berlembut pula dengan para penunjuk
perasaan, malah ada yang bersama menyertai mereka."
"Mungkin patut difrasakan dengan sedikit kejam: Pemerintah tidak
selamanya berautonomi, mereka sentiasa bergantung - oleh itu
mereka sebenarnya tidak bermaya berkuasa tanpa kehadiran satu golongan
(struktur penyokong) yang taat teramat setia".
"Bila orang pertama sahaja meninggalkan struktur ketaatan itu,
maka sistem itu mulalah retak." Milosevic (dan Mahathir juga)
adalah umpama pemain chess yang telah keletihan yang sudah kalah
dalam permainan catur.... cuma mereka tidak sedar sahaja.
Bagi rakyat Malaysia kes pemecatan Ibrahim merupakan retakan kuasa
yang pertama. Ia merintis kepada retakkan yang seterusnya. Mahathir
hanya berkuasa kerana segelintir kera yang maha setia disekelilingnya.
Atau keadaan ekonomi yang selalu dikatakan segar dan pulih itu.
Namun demikian indeks BSKL kelihatan terkapai--kapai pada angka 700
sahaja sedangkan ia mencecah mata 1,270 sewaktu tahun Anwar
mengemudi ekonomi pada 1997.
UMNO kini sedang menyusun dirinya. Walau apapun - itu teramat diragui
kerana Mahathir masih menjadi hantu dibelakang mereka. Jika hantu itu
tidak dinyahkan serta-merta, bersedialah umno untuk ke kubur dengan lebih
By Anil Netto
When Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was forced out of office
after 13 tormented years, Malaysia's "reformasi" supporters wondered in
postings on the Internet when the tenure of Prime Minister Mahathir
Mohamad, in power for 19 years, would draw to a close.
And while Yugoslavs celebrated Milosevic's ouster last weekend, a
Malaysian freelance writer asked Mahathir point-blank in Cambridge,
England, last weekend, "So when are you going to resign?" She had
earlier listed cases of alleged abuse under Mahathir's administration.
In a letter later sent to Internet newspaper Malaysiakini, signed "Girl
Nobody", the writer identified herself as the one in Cambridge and
described what happened after she had boldly mentioned the "R" word:
"For my pains at the conference (and it was painful - I was as
frightened as I was angry) - I received several dirty looks from
Mahathir's entourage, and had the disagreeable experience of several
dark-suited men breathing heavily down my back and at my side for the
rest of the talk, trying to see what I was writing.
"A few suits spoke to me later to ask where I was from, what I did,
where was I studying, where was I based, who my father was, could they
have my phone number, address, e-mail address ..." she added.
The fear of reprisals is so strong that few government-sponsored
Malaysian students abroad dare to openly oppose Mahathir for fear of
having their scholarships revoked. Other students are deterred by the
prospect of having their photos taken or being filmed.
In Chicago recently, a small group of student demonstrators were
video-filmed as they demonstrated against the visiting Mahathir. At a
the launch of a human rights training program in a Kuala Lumpur hotel in
July, a video cameraman purportedly from a private television station
carefully filmed the seated audience row by row.
In Cambridge last weekend, officials and other unknown photographers
took close-up snaps of some 30 demonstrators, including five Malaysians,
who protested against Mahathir outside the hall. "They took a few
pictures of the group but the main focus of their photographic skills
were, quite blatantly, on the Malaysians. I myself must have been the
subject of at least five rolls of film," wrote reformasi activist Sabri
Zain in Malaysiakini. "Their message was crystal clear - you are being
watched and we will find out who you are."
Certainly, it would have been much safer to have been among the
450-strong audience who had gathered to hear Mahathir in the hall. But
there comes a time when anger and frustration over perceived injustice
overwhelms the fear of being watched.
"Not even the strongest dictator is all-powerful," said Jan Oberg,
director of the Swedish-based Transnational Foundation for Peace and
Future Research, in a commentary on the Yugoslav uprising. "People in
power are fundamentally dependent on others supporting them, carrying
out orders, producing - in short, a whole structure." Milosevic, Oberg
observed, could do nothing when the police refused to obey orders and
went soft on demonstrators, some even joining them. "To put it somewhat
crudely: rulers are never autonomous, they are fundamentally dependent
and virtually powerless without a structure of obedient people."
The moment the first person leaves a power structure or turns
disobedient, Oberg said, the system has its first crack. When more
follow and finally the majority drop out or become disobedient, the
ruler and the structure lose legitimacy and power. "Like many other
authoritarian rulers, this one [Milosevic] lost sense of reality. His
last power maneuvers were indicative of that, of a very exhausted
chess-player who is losing the game without noticing it."
Malaysians reading Oberg's commentary may see some similarities in their
own country. In Malaysia, the first crack appeared with the ouster of
former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in 1998, but the system is
still kept in place by an army of obedient people, unable or unwilling
to risk venturing beyond their comfort zone. Many among the
middle-class, non-Muslims, and liberal women are worried about the
alternatives despite the formation of an opposition coalition.
"The reformasi movement has not captured the imagination of a
significant majority of the middle-class public in Malaysia," says a
Philippine analyst who was actively involved in the people power
movement that led to the ousting of former president Marcos. "It has not
yet achieved a critical mass."
Much will depend on the state of the economy. For now, most Malaysians
remain in line, though increasingly there is disquiet over the listless
economy despite rosy predictions and positive official growth figures.
The Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange languishes in the 700s, well off its
pre-1997 crisis high of 1,270.
The challenge facing the Mahathir administration is whether it can
reform itself before it is too late. Mahathir probably recognizes this -
he says he will only step down after his United Malay National
Organization (Umno) has been revamped, which is why he is devoting more
time to party affairs.
But political analysts wonder if Umno can ever reform itself, given the
close political-business nexus in the country after more than four
decades in power. Certainly the prime minister can draw little comfort
from the regular protests against his rule, both locally and
internationally, and the toppling of authoritarian leaders like
(Special to Asia Times Online)