by Mariam Mokhtar
Feb 4, 2013
When food bags were given out by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak at Semenyih recently, it is alleged that there was a near stampede to acquire the goodies. Najib must have felt smug satisfaction at being able to control people like that.
One does not want to judge or question why people would demean themselves by pushing others out of the way to receive the goods. Perhaps, the people who grabbed the offerings were poor, and gaining some rice and flour seemed like winning a jackpot.
It is despicable that Najib and his advisers have not learnt to treat people with more dignity. Why should these people be filmed acting like refugees from a war-torn area? Why do political parties make ordinary people feel and act like beggars?
On the other hand, why should the taxpayer be burdened with the extra expense when the money could be put to better use?
If the truth be known, the goods were probably provided by some crony company and sold at exorbitant prices. The organisers arranging the transaction were possibly from another crony company and charging an inflated rate for completing the deal. The transport company delivering the goods may also be another crony company and presenting another excessive bill. In the end, the taxpayer will pick up the tab for the inflated invoices.
If the rakyat stopped rushing up to Najib to receive his goods, his money or his election offerings, Najib would not know how to react and Umno would be flabbergasted. Corruption does not work if there are no takers for the gifts.
People cannot be told what to do, and to stop needy people from taking these goods is easier said than done. There are many underprivileged people whose needs are varied, but what if the majority of us stuck to our principles and stopped giving Najib the attention he craves?
Umno’s all hype and no substance
Najib is prepared to spend a few million ringgits on bringing Korean singer Psy to perform his ‘Gangnam Style’ dance at the Chinese New Year party in Penang. Why is BN prepared to spend money frivolously on a foreign entertainer and disregard Malaysian artistes like Namewee?
To counter the claims that BN is not involved, the event organiser, Mega Ultimate, has issued a statement saying that they are paying for Psy’s appearance.
A few years ago, a similar denial was issued, when it was alleged that the government had spent several million ringgits, to buy a centre-fold spread promoting the self-styled First Lady, Rosmah Mansor, in the New York Times.
Umno has been revealed to be ‘all fur coat and no knickers’. The party has plenty of hype and no substance. An internal battle rages within its ranks and it may implode, but the extremists pose a greater risk for Malaysia.
Given half a chance, the Umnoputras and pseudo-Malays would eradicate all of Malaysia’s history and heritage. They would erase the contributions of the non-Malays, and the bumiputeras who are repulsed by Umno’s warped vision of Malaysia.
When Pol Pot grabbed control of Cambodia in 1975, he declared it to be Year Zero and executed intellectuals or anyone associated with Cambodian culture and traditions. Centuries earlier, the French started a new calendar, when they abolished the French monarchy in September 1792. Umno’s methods of brainwashing are insidious but just as deadly.
Friends, who are parents or schoolteachers, are appalled that the teaching of history in our schools has become distorted, with extraordinary emphasis placed on Umno, Islam, and the Malays.
As the opposition coalition gains ground, Umno is getting desperate and is alleged to be responsible for sporadic acts of violence, from Bible-burnings to thuggish behaviour at opposition seminars.
Fifty-six years ago, Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Father of Independence, was a royal prince with the common touch, which endeared him to many.
Just and ironic retribution has been dealt upon the man who was one of the Tunku’s fiercest critics in the fifties and sixties. The former prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is now being criticised. Even those who once sucked up to him are now joining in the bear baiting.
It is ironic too, that Mahathir with his ‘Look East’ policy, who hated everything the West had to offer and who sought to erase all things to do with colonialism, should now be at the receiving end of a similar treatment. Malaysians are desperate to undo his legacy.
Mahathir was the typical con-man – he conned the Malays in Umno with his ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ and got away with it because many of them were greedy. They wanted instant riches without the hard work.
Mahathir destroyed three generations of Malaysians and kept them in check with his various laws to silence them. In today’s world of immediate access to news, Mahathir would not have gotten away with his alleged crimes.
M’sia is without a strong leader
Today, Malaysia is without a strong leader. Few, if any, of its politicians and people in positions of responsibility uphold high standards in the office.
The loss in public confidence in many of our institutions is because these people of responsibility failed to challenge their peers and superiors when there was something that was obviously wrong or illegal – as in the provision of citizenship to foreigners, in exchange for votes.
These have resulted in the rakyat having contempt for authority and disdain for religious clerics. The different races eye each other with mistrust.
The Tunku’s vision of Malaya/Malaysia is not the Malaysia we see today, where race and religion come to the fore, and where royal households either play ball or are blackmailed by the ruling party.
In his vision of Malaysia, the Tunku advocated tolerance, moderation and inter-communal harmony. He may not have been perfect, but his vision did not exclude the many Malayans whose contributions were invaluable.
Today, the non-Malays have to realise that religion is not just about the word ‘Allah’, or the demolition or erection of temples.
Many moderate Muslims are also enslaved by the increasing conservative Islam being practised in Malaysia. They cannot celebrate Valentine’s Day. They are afraid to wear swimsuits in some states, and some claim that the wearing of the tudung (headscarf) is strictly regulated. Some schoolchildren have been scolded by their teachers for sharing the contents of their tuck-boxes.
Moderate Muslims are afraid to speak out. They fear that Umno will accuse them of not being true Muslims.
When we go to the polls, in a few weeks’ time, are we prepared to tell our political parties that they must dance to our tune? Are we ready to do away with race-based politics and policies? Will we go one step further and tell the incoming government to stop gathering information on race and treat every genuine Malaysian equally? Are we ready to call ourselves Malaysians and pick up where the Tunku left off?
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.