Research in educational psychology has shown that the trait of instant gratification among children is often a powerful indicator of a reduced likelihood of success in life.
A 2016 study showed that students who can delay gratification have better working memories and can more easily adjust to changing situations.
Unfortunately, in Malaysia, many ‘overgrown children’ function as adult politicians seeking immediate gratification. Whether they can successfully haul Malaysia towards sustainable long-term growth and progress remains questionable.
Many of our politicians are narcissistic and may have questionable intelligence or Machiavellian personality traits. They seem to thrive only within a culture of patronage, divisiveness and racism. They appear to be on power trips to win at all costs – even at the expense of the nation’s ideals and progress.
On one front, a bitter old man is threatening to destabilise the current leadership and our democracy by poking at several hornets’ nests.
Former two-time Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is busy promoting ethnic “Malay unity” through his so-called “Malay proclamation”. In this pursuit, he has not spared the monarchy. He has played up issues over sovereign state borders. And he has even picked on sensitive matters pertaining to Malay identity and unity through his divisive rhetoric.
If there was anyone who could have done more for the Malays, for Malay unity and their prosperity, it would have been Mahathir himself. He had the longest and firmest hold on government for over two decades. So he should have no one else to blame but himself for his failures.
- Sign up for Aliran's free daily email updates or weekly newsletters or both
- Make a one-off donation to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara, CIMB a/c 8004240948
- Make a regular pledge or periodic auto-donation to Aliran
- Become an Aliran member
To revive his fading popularity, Mahathir seems willing to throw this country back into the hands of those who will only take it deeper into divisive politics and back into the swamp of corruption and cronyism. In short, he wants to press the ‘rewind’ button. Then again, it could all be just a ploy to shift attention away from the skeletons now rattling in his own dark closet.
Let’s not forget the ‘Boss’ of thieves, who languishes, unhappily, it would seem, in his prison cell, where a VIP visitor, himself facing 47 charges, reportedly could bring along the prisoner’s favourite food and have breakfast with him for an hour and a half.
No wonder some speculate that life in Najib Razak’s ‘cell’ must be ‘comfortable’.
Perhaps they are mistaken. After all, the Prisons Department had insisted that no special treatment would be accorded to Najib. Perhaps his cell is grey and bare, with a squeaky bed and a filthy thin mattress.
Yet, didn’t this prisoner arrive for court hearings in dark SUVs with tinted windows while clad in expensive designer suits? Given these unfair excesses, would it take much intelligence to imagine the likes of Najib’s prison ‘cell’?
These days, we seem to be unable to respect procedures – the strict operational standards and measures the country has to ensure uniformity and equality for all prisoners. The scales do not seem to be fair to all.
Even as we question Najib’s unusual treatment in prison, powerful politicians within government, at a recent political convention, have leveraged their weight on this frail ‘see-saw’ administration to call for his release!
Are the youth of this particular party unable to see this criminal for what he is?
Weren’t his crimes committed against themselves, the people of Malaysia?
Wasn’t the evidence overwhelmingly stacked against him, not only here in Malaysia but across the globe?
If, by some powerful miracle, this ‘Boss’ is set free, then wouldn’t it mean we can now throw open the gates of all prison cells and let them all out?
The strict rules and yardsticks of the system, which were once considered to be resolute and mandatory, appear to have now been crudely bent if not decrepitly broken.
On another front, we have Pas president Hadi Awang’s statement that the ethnic minorities should be grateful for being ‘allowed’ to live in Malaysia.
This is a skewed idea, that Malaysia belongs only to the Malays. After six decades of independence and over a hundred years of coexistence and mutual respect, do we still need to revisit this question? Like anywhere else, a country naturally belongs to its people. Malaysia belongs to everyone in Malaysia.
Is Hadi ignorant of the consensual historical pact made at the time of our independence, and the constitutional rights of citizenship granted to the ethnic minorities in the Federal Constitution? I am surprised no one has thought of taking him to court!
If the Pas president is going to throw this dice to reframe the context and the conditions for ‘some’ of Malaysia’s citizens to live in Malaysia, then he should do it boldly and clearly. If Hadi ever plans to become powerful enough one day, he should say exactly what his ‘conditions’ will be for the ethnic minorities now. They need to know if they will be living in a prison or in a country that loves them.
Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, the Kedah Menteri Besar, at least had the courageous audacity to publicly call for a constitutional amendment to return Penang to Kedah. Ridiculous and arrogant, but still naively courageous!
One needs to give Sanusi some credit for his courage, even when his call has highlighted his total ignorance and disregard of the Federal Constitution and of the agreement of Malaysia’s founding fathers.
Perhaps now that Sanusi has started the ball rolling, should the Johor MB, Onn Hafiz Ghazi, follow suit by publicly calling for the return of Singapore to Johor? After all, Singapore is historically a part of the Johor sultanate. Shouldn’t the same logic of ‘return’ apply?
But of course, no one in their right mind would do that, would they? That would be a blatant act of aggression. Clearly, all sovereign boundaries are there to be respected.
Far too many of our politicians are unable to see beyond their tiny spheres of influence and unaware of the long-term harmful consequences of their stupid words, actions or threats.
It is difficult to tell if stupidity, ignorance and narcissism are the natural conditions of some of our politicians or if it is not an alternate Machiavellian trait to manipulate, fool and to do enormous damage.
Whatever spheres of influence our politicians have, it has clearly not been used to uplift the people or shift their frozen mindsets towards a more educated and open disposition so that they can rise to the challenges of an unpredictable future.
How many of our politicians read extensively and are aware of the ripples of technological and political change happening elsewhere in the world? These ripples are slowly swelling like a tsunami, heading towards our shores while we are clueless bickering over releasing convicted criminals and over state borders that were decided over sixty years ago.
Sometimes it seems as if we are drifting rudderless in a sea of mounting idiocy!
Yet, it pays to stay optimistic and to keep pecking at the rot. Even when the dark dome of stupidity, narcissism and ignorance seems to have paralysed us momentarily, we still have a few selfless intelligent leaders who will put some cracks in, to bring in the light.