Resolve anew

2

Mustafa K Anuar ushers in the New Year by sharing with us some of his unorthodox resolutions.

A Himpunan Hijau protest in Kuantan last year against the Lynas rare earth refinery
A Himpunan Hijau protest in Kuantan last year against the Lynas rare earth refinery

It’s a ritual many of us go through each time a spanking New Year stares at us in the face: we commit ourselves to a set of goals, projects and lifestyle change — but only to realise at the end of the year that we have failed to achieve what we set out to do.

Thus, over the years I have become mellow enough to realise that my expectations of myself, people and life as a whole should be placed a notch or two lower so as to avoid lingering frustration. So this New Year, my resolutions are plain and simple.

Travelling fascinates me, but I never got to do much of it in the recent past. So I have promised myself to travel this year — barring the possibility of a general election — to that northeastern corner of the peninsula, the state of Kelantan. The capital town of Kota Baru attracts me most as it evokes a certain charm, splendour and of course controversy.

This is apart from the fact that people involved in business there are mostly women who are astute in their trade, indicative of women’s power in action.

And while visiting the town that reportedly (by the mainstream media) has grown more Islamic over the years, I thought I’d do something out of the ordinary in my otherwise sober life: I’d pop into one of Kota Baru’s hairdressing salons.

I am sure this totally new experience would blow me away, not necessarily because the MCA leadership recently expressed displeasure and Gerakan politicians found it imperative to solemnly exercise their human rights to cut their hair there in the wake of the recent fines slapped by the local council against the operators of unisex hairdressing salons.

On the contrary, I want to find out myself, for example, how professional these female hairdressers — all well-coiffured and manicured — are when it comes to cutting my hair under Pakatan Rakyat rule. Have they, by the way, declared their assets to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) as a good measure of transparency? Are these establishments a mere front for Ali Baba operatives? Because if they are, wouldn’t the salons cut corners (as a result of hefty commissions exacted from them) so that I would end up having an unkind cut or, worse, a hornet’s nest kind of hairdo?

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And while I am at it, and to satisfy the curiosity of the society’s moral guardians, I also want to test the nagging assertion that the curvaceous can steer one away from the straight and narrow. Surely no self-respecting Muslim would want to let their hair down and consequently have their mane declared “haram” — let alone get distracted by well-endowed women sauntering nearby at the traffic lights.

Another simple task I have set myself out to do is to buy an affordable small piece of land where I can grow a few fruit trees and vegetables, and build a little house amidst the lush greenery. For this purpose, I’d trek down to Gebeng in Kuantan where I think that land price would have drastically dropped as a result of the unfounded scare about that Aussie rare earth plant Lynas being dangerously radioactive.

I would like to enjoy the greenery and the fresh air in and around the land that I seek to purchase. There’s nothing to be afraid of as I have full confidence in the government as well as the Atomic Energy Licensing Board who assured us ordinary mortals of the safety of such an industrial plant.

That is why I feel that the so-called Green protests in Kuantan are really an exercise in futility, knowing full well that a people-oriented federal government like ours would not consciously do things that would harm its citizens. In fact, when push comes to shove, the government leaders would — commendably — put the interests of the ordinary people over theirs.

Sorry, I digress.

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As someone who values knowledge, especially the scientific kind, I would make a deliberate attempt this New Year to cajole, coax and convince relatives, family friends and associates to force their kids to opt for the science stream in school because parents are now given by federal government tax breaks if their children are to do so, which would be very helpful at a time when a spike in high street consumption would help activate the national economy.

Moreover, it really doesn’t matter whether science (and mathematics) is taught in English or Malay as long as the tax exemptions make the accounts book tidy at the end of the day. And even if it is indeed conducted in English, it also doesn’t matter whether the teachers speak with an American drawl or heavy Indian accent.

As for their grown-up children in colleges and universities, I’d try to convince the parents to discourage their kids from getting involved in nefarious activities that might disrupt national security and smear the image of race, religion and nation, such as street demonstrations and Occupy protests. This is, I feel, the least I can do as a loyal citizen in helping to keep the students’ noses clean and at the same time help promote academic excellence.

Besides, it’s not worth the effort of the student activists to indulge in civil disobedience considering the heavy court sentences meted out to them if found guilty of what is deemed a misdemeanour and, worse, “anti-national”. However, if they are indeed given a heavy sentence, I would think that the students concerned ought to make an appeal for a lighter one, especially if they can convince the judge that their bright future (after graduation) is at stake. And if they’re lucky, they might even get away with murder, figuratively speaking.

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But education in life isn’t only confined to the classroom. This year I also would want to educate myself — and friends as well — regarding diet, which is clearly a contributory factor to one’s health status. I am happy to note that my sugar intake (as in, say, chocolate cakes) has been substantially reduced, and will be cut down further what with the increasing price of sugar — something that the government duly takes credit for. There’s no better way than this to avoid diabetes.

My diet as a whole will also be controlled and moderated by the rising prices of food essentials. Some foods would certainly be out of my reach, a phenomenon that harmonises with my underlying urge to combat the sneaking bulge. In a sense, the growing inflation in our society ironically has helped to tighten my literal belt, indeed a blessing in disguise when all things fall into place.

If there’s one more thing that I need to do in the New Year, it has to be procrastination that I must overcome. This is because procrastination has often become an ugly obstacle that puts paid to good intentions. For example, I have been delaying my long awaited birthday bash twice simply because the forthcoming general election has become so unpredictable.

But then, hurrying things, as Utusan Malaysia has found out recently, may just bring about a situation where its negative consequence is beyond your wildest imagination.

So I guess I need some time to mull over this issue of procrastination. After all, I have a year ahead of me.

This piece was first published in The Malaysian Insider.

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3 Jan 2013 7.08pm

the old has gone — 2012 and the NEW has come// wiill malaysians change with times???