Dec 24, 2012
Who needs Father Christmas when we have Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak?
The world has Father Christmas. In western folklore, he is the legendary figure who brings presents to the homes of good children on the night of Christmas eve. He is usually portrayed as a chubby, joyful, white-bearded man who wears black boots and a red suit trimmed with white fur. Santa lives in the North Pole with Mama Claus, and is assisted by his magical elves and flying reindeer.
In Malaysia, Najib has assumed the role of Santa, with his various handouts. Najib does not have Santa’s long white beard nor rosy cheeks, but many women claim to be envious of his luscious red lips.
Both the Malaysian Santa and his Mama Claus live in a sprawling mansion called Seri Perdana, with an air-conditioning system which would make Santa jealous. To put things into perspective, the official residence of the British PM, No 10 Downing Street, is a garden shed in comparison.
Seri Perdana has deep pile carpets, kitsch Louis Farouk gilded antique reproduction furniture and the walls are adorned with several life-size portraits of both Santa Najib and the Malaysian Mama Claus. A psychiatrist would find these portraits interesting material for a thesis on narcissism.
Santa Najib has his own elves; they are small in stature and small-minded, so that many people have dubbed them, ‘Little Napoleons’.
Instead of eight flying reindeer, Santa Najib flits around the world in government jets and high powered cars. When on Malaysian soil, other motorists are forced off the roads by outriders.
Britain’s monarch travels around in an English car, with one outrider. Sometimes, her consort, Prince Philip drives around in his own black London cab. One would have thought that Santa Najib would be proud to be driven in a Proton, the national car of Malaysia. Why does he use an imported car?
Santa delivers toys and sweets to the well-behaved children of the world, whilst naughty ones receive coal. English children leave mince pies for Santa. In Malaysia, things are different; whole families have to leave their souls for Santa Najib. He also delivers money and contracts to his cronies.
Instead of distributing presents from a big bag on Santa Najib’s sleigh, Mama Claus buys bags and rings.
As it is an election year, Santa Najib cannot be too picky. He cannot pretend to help only the Muslims. He must pretend to help everyone. Santa Najib cries “Ho, Ho, Ho… You help me, I help you.”
In days of old, the people who gave Malaysian leaders the most headaches would simply disappear and be swallowed up by the Internal Security Act (ISA); but in these days of activism and political awareness, Santa Najib has to be careful. His major headache is the Malays. They must be persuaded to vote Umno, to maintain his party’s strangle-hold on power.
Have the ultra-conservatives been gagged?
Surprisingly, in the run-up to Christmas this year, we have not heard of complaints about carols being banned from shopping malls, carolling being forbidden outside homes or of crucifixes being torn off walls in preparation for a visit by a senior Umno politician. Have the ultra-conservative Muslims and Malays been gagged?
The run-up to most festivals is stressful. Housewives suffer from the normal stresses of buying food and worry if there will be sufficient stocks. They are aware that some unscrupulous retailers will hoard food items to cause panic buying, so they can sell at a premium.
Fortunately, none of the usual Christmas foods have been banned. Do bans affect only Muslim festivals? You may remember that the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) took Golden Churn butter off the shelves because they were deemed haram. There were allegations of pig DNA being found in the popular brand of butter, used by many Malays and cakeshops to make kek lapis for Hari Raya.
Most people said that they had never heard of pigs being milked for butter. The cynics said that the herds of genetically modified dairy pigs must be top secret; no films of these herds have ever been released.
The most important celebration in the Christian calendar is Easter. If GE13 is held before Easter and Santa Najib wins, he will probably ban hot cross buns, to appease the ultra-conservative Muslims.
Last week, Santa Najib played to the Indian community by saying that Indian teachers would be allowed into Malaysia to teach English. Few have fallen for this election gimmick.
Surely, the most cynical ploy by Santa Najib is the lifting of travel restrictions on travel to Israel for Christians.
The oft-asked question is why now? Why do it with GE13 approaching?
Jerusalem is a holy city for Christians, Jews and Muslims. Are Malaysian Muslims still banned from travel to Israel?
If Santa Najib was sincere, he could lift the ban on the use of the word Allah by Malaysian Christians. He could also lift the ban on Malay Bibles. What about censuring extremist Muslim and Malay groups and individuals, for their fiery propaganda against Christians?
Many people, including Muslims, go abroad to admire the fine architecture of churches and abbeys, or wonder at the simplicity of old chapels. Why do modern Malaysian churches have to look like a shoplot or a factory unit? How about lifting the restrictions on the building of churches in Malaysia?
The only good thing about Santa Najib’s Christmas cheer is that the Malaysians who make their way to Jerusalem would at least feel at home with the ‘1Israel’ slogan.
‘1Israel’ is so similar to Santa Najib’s ‘1Malaysia’, you’d think the Israelis and Najib were in league.
Happy Christmas to Everyone!