By Gayatri Unsworth | The Malaysian Insider
MAY 30, 2014
Just a little over a year ago, Malaysia stood quivering at the prospects of a new dawn. Millions thronged to the polling booths, to have their fingers stained with special ink that was about as ineffectual as Ridhuan Tee’s sense of logic.
Anyhow, this not-so-indelible ink, which we paid a fortune for by the way, because as a country we are so exceedingly wealthy that we can afford to spend gazillions on things which don’t really work such as non-sinking submarines and 1Malaysia campaigns, was only the first in a very long list of vexations to come out of last year’s general election.
Though a record number of Malaysians turned up to give the Election Commission the finger (I only meant for the applying of the ink of course) and to make our downtrodden voices audible, our collective despondency was no match for a system so skewed, that I’m really beginning to suspect that somewhere along the way, we simply got terribly confused and started mistakenly spelling D-E-M-O-C-R-A-C-Y for D-I-C-T-A-T-O-R-S-H-I-P.
And truth be told, that would be perfectly understandable, considering our stellar record as far as English language education goes.
If you followed the recent MH370 briefings you would know precisely what I mean. With the exception of Hishammuddin Hussein, everyone else spoke a special dialect of English never before heard anywhere else in the world.
And so, here we find ourselves a year on, still being entertained by numerous geniuses in charge, all with their own special brand of conman sense. Still dealing with the very same rot and corrosion so many of us tried extraordinarily hard to make a clean break from.
Racist sentiments are being churned out at twice the speed of public aid, despite both originating from the same sources. How about they keep those lavish 1Malaysia RM250 book vouchers and hand out some real 1Malaysia unity instead?
And when they’re not diligently manufacturing prejudiced propaganda, they stand on the side-lines and benevolently defend the prerogative of others to do so, as long as it’s against those evil “pendatangs” of course. Rightfully elected law-makers from the wrong side of the divide are being charged with a litany of offences whilst bigoted groups spewing vitriolic rubbish are seemingly immune to not only intellect but also persecution.
My grandmother has always said that if it’s not broken don’t fix it. She doesn’t realise that Malaysia IS broken, not completely shattered just yet, but so severely splintered in so many different ways that it’s failing to function the way it was intended to. She’s in her seventies; the only administration she’s ever known, since the birth of an independent Malaysia, is Barisan Nasional.
She is also technologically illiterate, rendering her completely dependent on that gold standard of journalism, which is our mainstream media and so, it’s not hard to comprehend why she goes to bed contentedly at night and wakes up happily in the morning, thinking that all is perfectly fine in this country of hers.
She has electricity (yes, she will soon have to spend all of her life savings to afford the new tariffs, but who cares), she has water (well technically she didn’t for 2 months, but it’s back on now and even better for her as it’s enriched with really nutritious mining pool scum, and she has a roof over her head (which thankfully, isn’t repeatedly collapsing unlike that of the Sungai Buloh hospital, Terengganu stadium and the National Squash Centre – in fact Nicol David is very lucky she is not being blamed for the last one; she is after all a Christian and they are seemingly responsible for all things bad which happen in Malaysia).
So really, my grandmother has all her bases covered. As far as she is concerned, the last 57 years have seen Malaysia go from strength-to-strength. We have economic stability, improved employment opportunities and even developed a world-class education system, if you were to believe our Deputy Prime Minister (I can’t say I do, but then again, I can barely even understand most of what he says, so clearly he is not a product of our amazing education system).
Our crime rate has dropped (apparently we’re really safe now and window smashing is just a new Malaysian way of people saying intimate hellos to each other on the road) and the cost of living is definitely not on the rise. Did you not hear our PM go to great lengths in explaining this via our newest economic quantifying tool – the kangkung benchmark index (KBI).
We have skyscrapers, highways (both the collapsing and non-collapsing variety), shopping malls, satellite TV (filtered no less, thanks to our dedicated censors just so we’re safe from the perils of those distressing piglet faces), state-of-the-art medical facilities and even our very own, highly-esteemed, Malaysian Book of Records, exclusively so we can chronicle all our amazing home-grown achievements. I mean, who wouldn’t want to claim fame for having the world’s tallest pencil? In fact, we could even try and make it a double record by claiming it to be the world’s only pencil which you cannot actually write with.
Occasionally my grandmother’s parade is a little ruined when the likes of Ibrahim Ali, Ridhuan Tee and Abdullah Zaik choose to generously share their charming delusions with the Malaysian public, but she nevertheless tolerates it. In all seriousness, if our Prime Minister has the wisdom and fortitude to remain so silent and calm about such preposterousness, who is she to speak up?
In any case, that amazing English daily (you know, the one which would make even Rupert Murdoch’s jaw drop with its allegiance to its political masters) turns up faithfully on her doorstep like a supportive friend and assures her that all will be fine. The MCA and the MIC will sort it out. Just like the past few decades. They’re reliable like that.
Besides, my grandmother knows how lucky she is, even being allowed to be here to begin with. Just like the indigenous people of Malaysia, she is fortunate that her existence is being tolerated at all. And just in case she forgets, someone with a single digit IQ turns up predictably from time-to-time to remind her that she is but a lowly “pendatang” and that if she doesn’t like it here, she can go back to where she came from. I don’t think these wise guys realise that Taiping is a part of Malaysia. So she puts up with the likes of Perkasa and Isma and all the glowing compliments they so charitably bestow upon non-Malays and non-Muslim Malaysians.
As far as my grandmother is concerned, Malaysia is stable and peaceful. So why on earth would she rock the boat by turfing BN out, even though it is responsible for her being treated like a third-class citizen in her own country.
You can’t really fault my grandmother for thinking the way she does though. Why CHANGE when the going does appear to be relatively good? After all, Malaysia hasn’t really sunk to the depths of Zimbabwe or Syria. We haven’t got citizens running around trying to kill each other over different political ideologies. We just stick to the moral high ground and focus instead on charging senior citizens with scandalous sexual crimes in which they successfully overpower and sodomise able young men.
Yes, we have street demonstrations, but the only ones who seem to go a little loopy and behave in strange ways at those events, are the security forces. In any case, the extensive supply of tear-gas this country seems to be in possession of soon sorts out such inconveniences.
My grandmother’s doubts are further soothed by the impressive glossy letters the Prime Minister mails out to her featuring his perpetually smiling face and containing reconciliatory words written in Tamil. It’s a real shame he doesn’t know that my grandmother can read Bahasa Malaysia fluently but is completely flummoxed when it comes to Tamil characters. He might have saved millions on that little misguided public service venture, but then again, our PM isn’t one to focus on silly little things like austerity measures.
Even after the most recent Auditor-General’s Report was released, he did not think it was the right time (perhaps he wasn’t looking closely enough at those RM3000 wall clocks, blithely purchased on public money) to rein in the kind of mismanagement that goes in Putrajaya.
The scary thing is, my grandmother isn’t alone. There are hundreds of thousands of Malaysians out there who are seemingly reluctant to step forward and hold this government accountable for all the transgressions and wrongdoings it has committed to date. Barisan Nasional continues to behave like the unrepentant school-yard bully, because those like my grandmother not only tolerate it, but faithfully reward it for its behaviour at the ballot box, every time an election comes around.
How do you know that Anwar has all the solutions, my grandmother asks? It’s a fair question really. I don’t know, I tell her truthfully. The man has after all been punched in the head a few times.
I do know however, that although the opposition may well lack the experience needed to govern this country, I’m convinced that if given the choice, Malaysians would rather take tentative steps towards the future, hand-in-hand with a new administration, than be dragged along kicking and screaming, as we have been for a fair while now, by the manipulative reins of an arrogant, narcissistic regime.
Where exactly is this stability and prosperity, which the Prime Minister continues to gloat about, for all I can see, from where I stand, is increased insecurity, distrust and damage that is fast becoming irreparable.
Change is undoubtedly daunting, I don’t deny this. But, I really don’t see that we have any other option left. The majority (which is technically the minority, thanks to the incoherent delineation of electoral constituencies) of Malaysians have given Barisan Nasional the opportunity to govern and lead, no less than thirteen times and what do we have to show for it, but a country overrun with cronyism, corruption and crime.
This nation has been pillaged and plundered to the whims of a select few, who continue to rub their brazen misappropriations in our faces on a daily basis, as they carry-on without the slightest fear of admonition.
The problem with Malaysians is that we are far too tolerant for our own good. Our outrage is temporary, our indignation lasting long enough to flood our Facebook and Twitter with anger and exasperation, but then eventually we sigh and accept that this is our fate, that we will somehow rise despite being pulled under every single day.
We wear the insults and offensives hurled at us, like we do a bad traffic jam. We hate every second of it but we forget as soon as we arrive home, only to suffer through it the next day and the next and the next and the next.
I’m not advocating anarchy. In fact, I am downright denouncing it. I would hate to give the Home Minister and the IGP any more work considering that they’ve already got their hands full writing really hilarious comedy routines for all of their public appearances.
What I am saying is that we can start by winning the little battles such as the upcoming one in Teluk Intan. Forget about the next general election. That’s too far away and there’s probably already a sizeable taskforce somewhere plotting ingenious schemes for when that day arrives. By that point, Anwar may well be serving a life sentence for single-handedly outraging the modesty of a gym full of body-builders.
The Teluk Intan by-election is not about race, nor is it about religion and discord as the coalition would like you to think. It is not, as some would have you believe, about a young lawyer supposedly betraying her ethnic roots and selling out her faith. It is not even about the DAP or Gerakan.
This parliamentary by-election is about a young principled Malaysian who is asking for the opportunity to try and do the right thing for Teluk Intan and its constituents.
Dyana Sofya might not be offering new uniforms and schools, nor is she promising crematoriums and wedding halls, but what she is pledging are things which are far more valuable; transparency and integrity. Thus, perhaps it’s about time voters invest their faith in the opposition’s long term plans rather than get distracted by the coalition’s proclivity for instant gratifications.
It would be naive to think that Dyana Sofya emerging victor in Teluk Intan will solve our woes, for it certainly won’t. Nevertheless, her win will still be a small step forward for the millions of rational, right-thinking Malaysians who are desperate for advances in the correct direction, however small those progressions may be.
So if you are eligible to vote in Teluk Intan, please cast your vote wisely at the ballot box this Sunday. Vote for Dyana Sofea and give real democracy a go for a change.