Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hardest thing to do: seeing things from the other point of view?

What do you think-the question goes both ways!

The Bengoh film started from a question which ask: why the oppressed voters of Bengoh don't use their ballot to voice their unhappiness-as all voters are so entitled? It is not apparent that the question is actually loaded-the question's implied background is urban and mostly West Malaysian oriented! The making of the film actually become an experience to try to see things from another point of view: if you step into their shoes would you vote differently?

Can we take away the background to a person to understand him?

First the assumptions behind the original question:  there is a context of expected change in Malaysia through the ballot box starting from the 2008 mini-political `tsunami'(open to dispute-but it did bring some significant changes in the political landscape). Sarawak and Sabah has been holding the `king maker' cards all these while-but the dominance of BN make this obscure. If the Eastern states voted BN previously there were never this `noticing' that they did not vote freely or did not vote for their best interests-though the issue become bigger post-2008.2ndly there is also a notion that why the Eastern states don't vote in tandem with the Western states to bring change. A sense of automatic solidarity is assumed, forgetting that after Sarawak's Ming Court rebellion happened in 1987 Sarawakians almost toppled the incumbent Taib government by voting 20 seats out of 48 state assembly seats for Opposition candidates ie Taib only won with (28/48=), 58.33% majority; while in the general elections  afterwards  Malaysians in general returned the incumbent BN with an `enthusiastic' majority of (127/180=)70.56% in  parliamentary! May be the Sarawakians then was asking why the `oppressed' West Malaysians were sleeping?
Can you see things in his shoes? What do you think his view on of on-loking outsider/tourists?

There were of course specific circumstances why West Malaysians voted that way in 1990 general elections, West Malaysias would answer. Similarly there are also specific circumstances why the Sarawakians voted in favour of their `oppressor' this time. If we are interested in the truth we need to investigate with an open mind, without any presumption. The film is such a venture.

To get to the bottom of the issues involved we then need to try our best to see things from the other side, the other perspective. Which is sometime difficult to do. Different mindsets and mentalities are noticed, though there are still universal concerns and aspirations. We noticed that there are ebb and flows in eg the aspiration for change. Stepping into another's shoe, without being judgmental, is a pre-requisite for such a venture.

So when we look at the Bengoh folks/voters with our questions and presumptions we cannot fail to notice there are also eyes that look back at us and ask their questions back to us.As much as we want to get answers from them they also expect answers from us, though muted as usual. As we enquire about the voting behaviour of the rural Bengoh folks it is a measure of our `open-mindedness' as to how much we noticed the lack of `development' (for want of a better term) that these people live in all these while. Was there some neglect on the part of other Malaysians that they have to live squalid lives like this? Was there something done in our names to bring `development' that land these folks in their conditions today?

If we insist on pushing our perspective irrespective of possible validity of others' views the danger is obvious: what if we erred, as erring is human? Was there a thought that because we insist on a certain notion of modernity and coolness we may have brought about some unnecessary social oppression and irreversible environmental destruction?

If we try to look from the natives' perspectives we will more likely to understand the issues that caused them to vote the way they did-circumstances that would also lead us to vote similarly under similar conditions.So what are the conditions that led the Bengoh folks to vote the incumbent despite facing the threat of being totally uprooted from their ancestral lands? Come to watch the film to find out what our film makers from Sarawak and West Malaysians had found! See if you can see things from the natives' perspective, for once! 

Prove that it is not so difficult after all!

No comments:

Post a Comment