The Citizen's Declaration is a fine document. I agree with almost everything that it contains. Some people worked hard to amend the original document so that it was in line with more progressive aims, and they did a good job at that. But I'm worried.
One of the reasons Malaysia is in the mess it is in today is because we place inordinate value on leaders, on trusting our leaders. There was trust in, belief in, the idea that politicians may be creaming a bit off here and there, but in general, they were ruling in our interests. There was no need for oversight, or scrutiny, because we could trust them.
The decision to hand over the leadership of the movement for the Citizen's Declaration to Mahathir seems to be share the same premise. If we bring Mahathir in, we bring in his 'followers', and that way, we can institute change. It is too easy. Change requires far more work than that.
But what sort of change would that entail? Swapping Najib for Mukhriz seems the most plausible scenario, and what does that mean? Will those followers rise up and demand democratic change, or will they follow blindly?
We need to do away with leaders, because we need to do away with followers. If the democratic movement in Malaysia is relying on someone who has begrudgingly signed onto democratic reform, and they are relying on him to bring along his followers, then we have a problem. Because what we need, for democratic reform, is that the 'followers', the rakyat demand of their leaders, do this or we will be done with you.
If the democratic movement allows itself leaders, rather than spokespeople, allows itself demagogues, then it is not a democratic movement. Let Mahathir join the people's movement, let him be part of a tidal wave of citizens demanding reform and resignation. But let's not make him a figurehead, a leader, when he cannot even mouth the slogans of reform.
Let's change those followers, work with them. If we're serious about this, those are the barricades that need to be stormed. Instead of bringing Mahathir and his followers into the fold, let's transform his followers into independent citizens determined to determine a future of their own, not follow an old man's demising dreaming.