By Aloysius Chia
How are we to make sense of The Messiah?
On the one hand this figure of Anonymous seems bent on threatening the government, providing for the first time since the crackdown on ‘communists’ in the 1980s, a true radical force against what it views as injustice and unreasonable control of the polity (the internet of which is an extension).
On the other hand its motives and intentions are unknown. For it may claim to want to do good for the larger public, fighting what it perceives to be a hegemonic force, when in fact it has no such desire to do so. There is simply no way in which any reasonable person can objectively evaluate The Messiah, who claims to be a force for good but could equally be bad.
Anyone who makes a stand must simply be bent by the force of his or her emotions, and any stand made decided on the basis of perception. Most of the time, it will be affected by the opinion one has towards the current government. Some will find what this hactivist has done admirable, others will find it extreme. Whatever the reason, the reason cannot be a good reason, simply because there is not enough information about this person.
The only real contention here is to whether the use of radical force is suitable for change. For those who feel that democratic processes are or have been futile and conversation useless, a radical movement such as The Messiah’s would do well as a start to enact change as a real, concrete threat to the entrenched power of the government. The symbol of The Messiah offers a catalyst for grievances that feel that there has been too much restrictions and change long overdue.
But how long can such a movement persist is questionable. Can the Messiah, with all its self-vaunted technical prowess, truly pry into a gargantuan bureaucracy such as the government’s? What can it truly do, stopping short of a computer system breakdown, other than deface websites or steal information? An unrecognizable figure can only do so much as symbolic moves; it cannot change what it perceives worse for something better, precisely because it is illegitimate.
In order to understand The Messiah, and all the galvanizing support behind it, one has to realize that there is great disenchantment among certain groups of people, who feel such means justified. There are many reasons why people support The Messiah. Some are personal, some are political, many are presumably, financial. But the fact that the appearance of a single completely unknown ‘martyr’ has garnered so much enthusiasm can only be a reflection that there is the feeling that there is too much control of the current political system. In other words, the public sphere has not been amenable to the voices of a diverse group of people so that real contention is shown to be debated.
Here, we are not talking about which party has done this or done that, or which politicians have messed up. The issue is about how people feel things have been going, and how much the political system reflects this sentiment. Usually, a democratic system will reflect, more or less, the sentiments of the general population. In so far as there is a large polity of resentment, the system will reflect that, through the election of politicians and consequently, office holders. This incident of The Messiah, forces us to reflect back on this system.
In the past, the system has done very well to absorb these resentments and respond to it, by addressing the common grievances of those who find themselves left out or alienated by a government that prides itself in its prudence and forward looking policies. How this will eventually turn out with The Messiah will be another test for the government.
It has been reported on Tuesday that the probable ‘Messiah’ has been caught.
James Raj Arokiasamy is being accused of hacking a website belonging to Ang Mo Kio Town Council from a unit in Dorchester Apartment at Jalan Sri Hartamas in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 28 at about 1.35pm.
Today the newspaper has been quick to point out and emphasize that he has been “remanded in the Institute of Mental Health for a psychiatric evaluation” This may be a quick apologetic gesture to find an excuse and explain what no one yet understands.
But let’s be clear, whether or not this man suffers from any mental illness, it does not detract the support and waves of individuals who have stood behind him. The sentiments of those who were affected or influenced by him has taken place, and are anything but arbitrary; they are borne out by a tension that has simmered for years.