How many times have we read in the papers with headlines like “24 NGOs protest against abolition of ISA”, and so on. It conjures up the image of quite a number of thinking people with no vested interest supporting a cause or protesting against some evil.
RAPERAs, not necessarily so. You have to look closer. It could very well be made up just a few people with vested interests hiding behind the façade of an NGO. They could also be serving a hidden master. This is the politics of NGO.
“NGO” is an acronym for a non-governmental organization. It could range from a society for the old to any society founded on some cause, for example, Consumer Association of Penang, Persatuan Ibu Tunggal and so on. NGOs are supposed to be free from Government influence and from mainstream politics. They are supposed to have a cause free from vested interest with an ulterior hidden motive. Of course all NGOs have a vested interest – their own cause. Nothing wrong with that. It is the hidden ulterior motive that we are concerned about.
Reality is however different in this country where hypocrisy is a major value and almost a dominant culture. There is a lot of “silap mata” in country because there are many people with vested interests who actually believe that the silent majority of the Rakyat are fools. They mistake silence for stupidity and helplessness.
Hence, many NGOs are not actually apolitical or without vested interests. Many NGOs are actually formed and backed by politicians with various ostensible objectives but the main purpose being to sustain their power and influence. A close scrutiny will disclose that actual active membership of the NGO is negligibly small and the real persons moving it my be actually one for two persons. Hence it is not at all surprising if “24 NGOs” translates to actually 24 people. The movers of these 24 NGOs may even be just one or two or three persons at the most while the rest have a nodding skill.
SO, RAPERAs, do not be fooled or mesmerized by the “support” or “protests” of NGOs, Some are genuine and many are false serving hidden masters and hidden agendas. For people with hidden agendas and who are prepared to be tools, do they serve free lunches?
Let us look at another aspect of NGOs. There is an NGO called the “Muslim Lawyers Association” (“MLA”). Being a lawyer, I have always wondered why there was a need for this while there is the Bar Council. It seems to “justfy” the formation of a “Hindu/Christian/Taoist/Buddhist/Confucious/Sikh Lawyers Association”. If it is a “Shariah Law Practitioners Association”, I may be able to understand for obvious reasons. So I wonder how Muslims lawyers’ interests are served by the MLA which cannot be served by the Bar Council?
An NGO which has now resurfaced to capture the public eye is the Dong Jia Jong (United Chinese School Committees/Teachers Association) which a blogger has termed the “myopic dong-keys”. This group used to be very powerful among the Chinese based political parties and is supposed to represent “Chinese interest like education, culture, language, etc”. They are asking that Science and Maths be taught in Mandarin and not in English. Great leap forward! Had they not been of “Chinese origin” would they believe in that call too?
At another part of the dried lawn, you have “Persatuan Islam that” And “Persatuan Islam this”. Obviously some of them have Islamic teachings as the premise for whatever their cause may be. However, there are also others where you have to try hard to identify why they named themselves as “Persatuan Islam …”. A Muslim especially cannot avoid thinking that the label “Islam” is being abused for completely some other ulterior motive that has nothing to do with Islam. It may just be a case of pandering to the sentiments of the majority professed Muslims in the country.
A Rapera needs to avoid thinking that every NGO must necessarily be serving a “good cause”. Quite a number may turn out to be devils in disguise.
The art of politics is similar to the art of the sleight of hand or Houdini’s magic – what you see is not what is. What appears most harmless and most innocent may turn out to be the very centre of ………
Think about it.