Thinking Allowed: How to act macho and help the Opposition

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umnoyouth‘Waving the keris is very normal in Malay culture,’ so stated an Umno MP defending Umno Youth leader Hishammuddin, who had unsheathed and wielded his keris at the last Umno general assembly. Another Umno leader had also chastised the MCA leader for having stated publicly that Hisham’s histrionics might have contributed towards the drop in support among Chinese in the recent Ijok by-election.

Of course, Hisham denied that his act of bravado, some might say macho-ness, had caused Chinese to turn against the BN. Why, he stated that he would continue to wield his keris whenever necessary, as if to tell off his detractors.

I suggest that Khairy and the other Youth leaders should make sure that they wave their kerises too, whenever necessary; otherwise, others might think them not so normal. They should make sure that they also look garang like Hisham did. It’s okay to do so; after all, there’s no mention of the enemy one’s threatening. Show-show only-lah. Hopefully, the Youths will comply. We shall then see how the BN fares in the upcoming general election.

Alternatively, they could take a leaf out of the late First Lady’s book. Like the keris, batik is another symbol of Malay cultural identity. It’s normal to wear batik. Many do so on a daily basis. Why, on official occasions one can either go lounge suit or batik. But, unlike wielding the keris which signifies a threat, the batik is soft and celebratory. It includes – unlike wielding the keris, which excludes. There are many more beautiful Malay cultural symbols. Pity that the hot-blooded young men can only think of acting so macho-like and insensitive too!

Buy or by elections – Machap, Ijok, etc

Although the impact of the keris-wielders might cause a drop in BN votes here and there, perhaps even some loss of seats, of course, the BN will romp home to another victory in the upcoming general election. No doubt, the BN will spend lots, as they always do, to ensure victory. But will they spend as much as they did in the recent round of by-elections in Machap and Ijok? What a windfall for the rakyat! Under the circumstances, it is not wrong to surmise, from the rakyat’s point of view, that by-elections are more important than the general elections?

Our strategy?  Well, whatever influence one can muster should be directed at helping to ensure that some old and sickly (yeah, yeah, many are sick in their heads, but I mean physically sick here) BN candidates get elected. And then, after the general election has come and gone, we should await for the buy elections with bated breaths. On these occasions, the opposition should be able to mount a better challenge. And for us, it will be a buy and buy election!

Imagine, the rakyat of Machap in Melaka got newly paved roads, new street lamps, low- and medium-cost houses, and even housing lots and land leases. Not to mention the T-shirts, free makan, caps and badges.

The rakyat in Ijok got even more. The Selangor MB announced the disbursement of RM36 million worth of development projects that had to be implemented within two weeks. (Can you imagine what happens to the longkang (drains) and the newly tarred roads in a few months’ time?) The PM’s Department distributed RM3.5 million for seven mosques, 16 surau and six schools.

Nothing illegal here under Malaysia’s election laws; simply not very moral on the part of the BN. Time for the rakyat to wise up to the importance of the buy election, the by-election.

Oh yes, there’s the danger that you might also get more than you bargained for in a by-election. For the rakyat of Ijok, like it or not, had to watch and listen to Samy Vellu breaking out in song a la MGR while campaigning. Must have been a little geli!?.  At any rate, shouldn’t Samy have been spending more time checking out the Putrajaya buildings, the hospitals and schools, rather than doing a song-and-dance?


Desperately seeking madness abroad

People normally go abroad to gain experience, knowledge and open up one’s horizon by studying, visiting places and/or having occasional interactions with the locals of host countries.

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In fact, this has become the favourite rationale of many appointed councillors in particular that they’d do almost anything to justify their pleasurable tours under the official rubric of ‘study visits’. It ranges from learning how, say, an Egyptian city council cleans its city to the way another city council in another country beautifies its city through flowers and trees.

And apparently Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin was also abroad recently to learn a thing or two from the countries he visited. But judging from the bad ‘ideas’ that he had publicly expressed so far, we feel that it’d do him a helluva good if he had stayed home. For example, in Britain, he recently reprimanded the BBC for having given the platform or space to ‘rejected Opposition leaders’ of Malaysia such as the sacked Anwar Ibrahim, who now helms Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

Zam, as he is fondly referred to in the journalistic fraternity, also threatens a thaw in bilateral relations between Britain and Malaysia should this ‘misdeed’ of the BBC persist, acting as if his ministerial jurisdiction transcends physical and political boundaries in this globalised world.

And more recently, as if not to be outdone by himself, he came out with an idea, apparently fresh from a visit to France, that all bloggers should be classified as ‘professional’ or ‘amateur’ so as to weed out the so-called ‘irresponsible’ bloggers from the ‘responsible’ ones.

Judging from his latest spurt of ‘imagination’, we are tempted to ponder whether Zam had actually gone to areas in France where even the devils dare not venture, let alone supporters of the newly elected rightist President Nicolas Sarkozy.

While Zam is still recovering from his jet-lag and whirlwind tours, we’d suggest that he go into deep reflection to see how and why strange ideas emanate from the cranial vacuum between his ears.

This is because unless he exercises due care as to what comes out from his mouth, some people in this country may just call for him to be declassified as a cabinet minister. Worse, they may even insist that a court take away his passport so that the collective dignity of this country can be protected.


Geneva golds: It’s the exposure, stupid!

Another group of people who have been travelling, although nowadays in smaller numbers and with less fanfare, are the scientists from Malaysia’s public universities. Geneva is the preferred destination. Winning gold medals, the goal.

Following a query in Parliament over the large amounts of money spent by public universities to participate in Geneva’s ‘International Exhibition of Inventions, New Products and Techniques’, there is now general consensus that it is not a world-class academic event. Some VCs have also clarified that they would no longer be sending delegations to Geneva henceforth.

Penang’s USM also recognises that the Geneva exhibition is not one heck of an academic event. Nonetheless, it has decided that it will continue to send its scientists to compete for golds and, in so doing, gain exposure and attract the attention of the corporations, venture capitalists and what not; otherwise, how would one commercialise one’s inventions? There’s some logic in this argument.

If this is so, the university should not be treating these gold medal winners as though they are tomorrow’s Nobel Prize winners. For instance, there should be no need to hold a welcoming ceremony for the people who were merely competing to gain exposure in Geneva. Nor should they be further honoured in some other ceremony and given monetary awards for gaining those Geneva golds, silvers and bronzes. Was it an exposure trip? Or has USM been misleadingly honouring these exhibition winners as though they were world-class academics and researchers?

Tahniah (congrats) to UniMAP (that’s Universiti Malaysia Perlis), which has just won a Geneva gold. It’s understandable for a new university to participate in this Geneva exhibition. No doubt it needs the exposure. Although even little-known UniMAP shouldn’t overdo these trips. But a well-known university like USM, which used to be listed among the top 200 universities of the world, should be more focused on regaining its place among the top 200, then the top 100, then the top…(oh, forget it) rather than celebrating the winning of these Geneva golds.

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The things they say

As a thinking Malaysian I am seriously concerned about the level of intelligence of our men and women at the helm of affairs in politics and the civil service — if their pronouncements are anything to go by.

We have the Menteri Besar of a state who publicly announced his intention to use thugs and ex-criminals to maintain social order.  Right-thinking Malaysians were aghast at his suggestion.  I presume that, with galloping crime rates in the country, he would have no difficulty in the area of supply.  Even if there is a shortage he may entertain hopes of mercenary ex-cons from the international market.

I wait with bated breath every year when the SPM/STPM examinations commence.  The comedy of errors is laughable like a question paper getting a principle in physics wrong.  Then we had the Director-General of Education saying that there is nothing wrong in the wholesale lifting of questions from a workbook.  

Still on the Ministry of Education, there was a suggestion to engage soldiers as teachers to stem the tide of rising indiscipline at school.  Come to think of it, soldier-teachers could do no worse than the current crop that staff schools.  How nice to have a real general as Director-General of Education, Brigadier-Generals as VCs of public universities, and Captains as Heads of schools.  

The Menteri Besar of Perak used a peculiar criterion to gauge development — traffic jams.  If this is really true, Penang must be the most developed state in the world and qualifies to enter the Guinness Book of Records.  People who take two solid hours to get from Minden Heights to Tanjung Bungah on a Saturday night will confirm the high level of Penang’s development!

Still on the subject of Penang, our Honourable Chief Minister recommended an increase in bas sekolah (school bus) charges to encourage more people to become bus drivers.  What a noble aspiration for the state!  Napoleon called the British “a nation of shopkeepers”.  Would someone be wrong if he referred to Malaysia as a nation of bus drivers?

The head of the Public Accounts Committee, Selangor, in his indignation that a trip to Egypt — which included belly dancing and a cruise down the Nile — did not materialise said that a penalty would be imposed on the DAP candidate, who stood firm on a matter of principle, morality, ethics and accountability and refused to go on the trip.  What level of IQs does a Menteri Besar who wanted to take his whole family at public expense together with state official possess?

Sports in our country is a big joke.  The president of the Sepak Takraw Association said that none of the players comprising the present team would be sacked though they recently lost to Myanmar.  The same team has been thrashed by Singapore and Thailand.  According to him, the players are young.  Though oldies are goodies, it looks as if we have to wait for the young to become oldies to register some victories!

The print and electronic media carry daily the irrational, sometimes stupid, utterances of our leaders which assault our brains and move us to tears.
 

Genetic weakness

It is an irony that while the great scholar, Prof. Syed Hussein Alatas, successfully debunked the colonialist-created notion of ‘the lazy native’, Dr Mahathir rode to political power, fame and fortune by propagating the idea that the local natives, the Malays, are what they were because of genetic weakness.  His half-past-six book ‘The Malay Dilemma’ made dubious claims about this due to inbreeding. Therefore, a strong case for protection of the Malays was made out.  This gave birth to the NEP, ostensibly to rectify economic imbalance and eradicate poverty.

This noble aim went awry and the NEP provided the perfect camouflage to help those in power, their children, relatives and cronies amass tremendous wealth.  The vast majority of Malays got little or no benefit.  Small wonder then that the income disparity is the widest in the Malay community, currently.  The so-called protectors were actually wolves in sheep’s clothing and shamelessly helped themselves to the wealth of the nation — its money, land, lucrative logging concessions, government contracts, share allocations through the infamous pink forms, APs etc. One only needs to look at the palaces they live in, the posh cars they and their children drive, the holidays they go on, the designer clothes they wear to get confirmation of how successfully they have enriched themselves at the expense of the nation.

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Little did those who hero-worshipped Dr M realise that the economic “crutches” had condemned a whole ethnic group to mediocrity in a tough, demanding and competitive world under globalisation.  If one examines Dr M’s speeches, one would realise that he often talked down to the poor, dependent Malays because he had then realised that if the Malays did not discard the “crutches”, they would ultimately find themselves in ‘wheelchairs’.  To even a casual observer, however, the indoctrination of the Malays regarding the so-called efficacy of the NEP has created a mindset that, without it, the Malays would  become extinct!

A Malay colleague who was at the public university where I worked told me that asking the Malays, especially the Umnoputras, to give up the NEP is like asking the tiger to be a vegetarian!

Dr M is still stuck in the quagmire of the so-called genetic weakness of the Malays.  He called Johor Malays “weak” in respect of the concessions granted to attract foreign investments in the Iskandar Development Region in Johor. When he called Johor Malays ‘weak’, Dr M did not mean physical weakness but rather mental weakness. Interestingly, this comes in the wake of Ghani’s claim that the Malays are a superior race. Umno enjoys a large Malay support-base in Johor. Now we can understand why.

Zam Jam

Zam, the Minister of Information, took to task some clan for allegedly erecting tombstones for fallen members of the Communist party.

There is tremendous hypocrisy and double standards on the part of the government with regard to the murder of Malaysians by the Communists and the Japanese army.

From December 1941 till the end of the Second World War in the middle of 1945, the death and destruction caused by the Japanese army was tremendous.  A large number of Malaysians were mercilessly tortured before being shot or beheaded.

This death toll from Japanese atrocities far outnumbers the number killed by the Communists, whose insurrection began in 1948 and literally fizzled out after Malaysia attained independence. Yet today, the Japanese are enthusiastically welcomed, embraced, granted PR status, and royal titles are heaped on them. It appears that past sins can be forgotten and forgiven because of economic power.  The yen indeed talks loud.

The treatment meted out to the ageing Chin Peng lacks fairness and compassion.  Hypocrisy and double standards on the part of the powers-that-be are obvious.  Even the judiciary appears to be denying speedy justice to Chin Peng in his struggle to return to Malaysia.

Zam claims to have deep knowledge of Malaysian history.  If this was true, he should know that the British coordinated the activities of Force 136 from its headquarters in Kandy, Ceylon.  Force 136 was active in Kedah, Perak and Pahang and many Malay officers and soldiers, together with others, harassed and sabotaged Japanese attempts to transfer arms and men from the East Coast to the West.  Some officers of Force 136 collaborated and cooperated with the MPAJA. (Tun) Abdul Razak was a captain in Force 136, Pahang Wataniah. Going by Zam’s logic, these freedom fighters would be traitors guilty of treason.

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