Loki, demigod, Prince of Asgard, is a Marvel Cinematic Universe character who dauntlessly aspires to become ruler when the throne is vacated by the king.
Interestingly, Loki is not just another god characterised by the positive moral virtues we can expect from reading scriptures, tales or the mythologies found in the thousands of terrestrial religions.
Loki internalises crookedness over honesty. He believes in manipulation over fairness. He even strikes deals with the devil instead of helping his family – because he is none other than the “God of Mischief” himself. He lives, breathes and survives by scheming shady plots to serve his glorious purpose: to attain power by any means necessary.
Yes, it may sound all too familiar when this fictional character and its storyline is juxtaposed against the ongoing farcical political quest in Malaysia. This is not an exaggeration, as the political scene here, especially over the last two years, has been convoluted in an endless circle of upheavals, with leaders playing the fiddle while the country gradually turns to ashes.
The current political line-up features two mainstream players, Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Umno-Barisan Nasional. After the PH ended Umno-BN’s iron-fisted grip on power for over six decades in 2018, many expected a departure from the old politics of racism, religious sentiment, cronyism, nepotism and an anti-labour stance.
To achieve the PH victory, members of the then-opposition PKR, Amanah and the DAP internalised the ideals of Loki – striking a deal with the devil. Though surprising, their pact with Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Bersatu party was deemed necessary to overthrow the evilest of them all – Umno-BN.
They rode on a nationwide wave for change, sounding a clarion call for the public to look at the “bigger picture”. Past misdeeds were absolved in the quest, as they committed to all means necessary to attain power. Hey, it’s Loki again!
The seismic power shift resulted in yet another Loki-ness moment in the country. The ruling PH coalition now wholeheartedly accepted defectors, the political ‘frogs’ (those who had won) who leaped from the supposedly enemy camp.
The lack of principles and the entrenched camaraderie between certain political parties in PH and Umno-BN appeared obvious, politically motivated and obnoxious.
The ‘jumping’ spree continued, as Malaysians watched, perturbed and saddened to witness their aspirations for a better future sacrificed in favour of political survival.
With the Sheraton Move and regime change early last year, Loki’s principles – or rather, to hell with principles – took centre stage under the pretext of “Saving Malaysia”. Saving the nation from exactly whom remains an unresolved riddle.
This bunch of ruling elites have been studiously mirroring one another perfectly, fitting the local lingo “dua kali lima” (they are all the same). Guess what, the political frogs immediately leaped back from PH to their old masters.
This betrayal coincided with a global pandemic that has hit the economy and hurt the poor, the marginalised and the vulnerable. The struggling, depressed people were occasionally treated with handouts as if these token gestures would uplift them from their sorrow.
The politicians are so drunk on power that sobriety seems distant and unachievable. Meanwhile, the healthcare system is facing a serious threat of collapse due to the rising number of Covid cases while the vaccination process is taking longer than expected.
Instead of attending to these pressing issues, the power-crazy politicians took another regressive step. Having lost the popular support of the masses, including some of his Sheraton Move accomplices, the PM resorted to the tactics of Loki once again.
When Covid cases rose in his favour, the Mahiaddin Yasin convinced the King that an emergency proclamation was the right move to contain the situation. With that, he suspended parliamentary sittings, even though the proclamation allows sessions to be convened in its usual way.
But the suspension did not solidify his fragile prime ministerial position. The ongoing political turbulence has reached a temporary stalemate, giving the upper hand to Mahiaddin’s government. This drastic step yet again served the ‘glorious’ objective of retaining power by any means necessary.
This act was all the more infuriating when the plight of the people was largely ignored and not remedied effectively. The suicide rate rose to over three cases a day on average. This shows the inadequacy of the government’s aid to the masses, many of whom had lost their livelihoods.
The nation was then left in a limbo when the Umno president announced his party was withdrawing its support for the Perikatan Nasional government.
But his announcement should be juxtaposed with the stance and comments of certain Umno leaders who contradicted their party president, motivated no doubt by their desire to remain in positions of power.
Umno’s statement outlined the ‘failures’ of the PN government. The party said its withdrawal is motivated by its concern for the wellbeing of the people.
But then, we are all too aware of the presence of ‘Loki-ness’ in these politicians – and other mainstream politicians as well. In times of distress and duress, the political regime takes refuge under the theme of “Selamatkan Rakyat” (Save the people) or “Demi Rakyat” (for the people) while the common people suffer.
These power tussles – just like Loki’s endless endeavour to reach the throne – are never meant to benefit the ordinary people.
The public face daily issues of survival. It is the independent initiatives and compassionate campaigns within the public that have kept hope alive.
The people’s determination in their struggle for survival must be the catalyst to replace the old power-hungry politics and politicians with care, humanity, justice and a world free from exploitation.
Barathi Selvam is disturbed by the social injustices he sees around him and uses writing as a medium to advocate for those who are discriminated and oppressed