The Malaysian Insider
4 June 2014
Malaysiakini reported today that high-ranking officials in the Education Ministry had called a teacher since last week, “advising” her to remove Facebook postings on Dyana Sofya which they deemed as “anti-government.”
The teacher told the Malaysiakini news portal that a special officer to the Education Ministry director-general had told her to close down her Facebook page and that she will be “watched”.
“It is indeed the height of irony that on one hand, Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor is urging teachers to return to politics under Barisan Nasional’s fold, conceding that the headmasters, principals and teachers were the ‘real movers’ of Umno, MCA, MIC and BN in the past, but on the other hand, high-ranking officials from Education Ministry were reprimanding a teacher for posting campaign posters of Dyana Sofya on Facebook,” Mr Lim Kit Siang, the MP for Gelang Patah, Johor said in a statement today.
“Is Dyanaphobia the inevitable result of what has been described as “Dyanamania” which swept Teluk Intan and the country during the Teluk Intan by-election,” he asked.
My online Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions are:
1. mania: extreme enthusiasm for something that is usually shared by many people
2. phobia: an extremely strong dislike or fear of someone or something
3. -phile: suffix used to specify some kind of attraction or affinity to something
So now we can express precisely what all the hullaballoo was about.
During the recent Teluk Intan bye-election, Ms Dyana Sofya was the DAP candidate. Ms Sofya, 27, a qualified lawyer who has been called to the Malaysian Bar, came across as personable, intelligent and witty, possessed of liberal and modern egalitarian views that match her party’s vision.
Her candidacy resulted in unexpected interest among the Malay voters in this semi-rural constituency and great interest in cyberspace. This was Dyanamania.
Although she eventually lost, the extremely narrow margin of victory by a former Minister and politician of many years’ standing, the President of Gerakan and a former incumbent of that seat, and a 3% gain in votes that Dyana received from the Malay electorate, show a significant result, one that may be ominous for Umno.
There are many Dyanaphiles in Malaysia, not just among Malays but in the general population of all races. The ruling coalition has relied too long on a simplistic formula of posturing as the party that brought independence and that can best represent Malays while arranging “power-sharing” among the races, based meanwhile on communal parties, syncretic politics (while papering-over or ignoring built-in contradictions) and demonizing opposition parties, especially DAP as “anti-Malay.”
As the population gets increasingly better-educated and its tight control over information gets a bashing from online media and social networks, Dyana Sofya is exactly what they don’t need! Hence, a frantic call to man the battlements and search for subversives within – thus the start of Dyanaphobia.
After the General Election of 2008, the results were said to be a tsunami.
After the General Election of 2013, the Prime Minister proclaimed a Chinese tsunami, despite the statistics showing a general swing to Pakatan Rakyat.
Dyanaphiles and Dyanamania may just presage a Malay tsunami on the way. That would deliver the final devastating coup-de-grace to an ageing one-party rule.
It is fascinating to see how life imitates the sciences, especially Biology and Physics. In “The Living Planet”, naturalist Sir David Attenborough movingly describes how a great tree dies in the jungle:
“The death of a giant
“Forest trees fall eventually. Many stand for centuries but finally the sap no longer rises so strongly in the giant trunks. The aged branches, attacked by molds and fungi, riddled by tunneling insects, can no longer carry their burden of leaves and squatting plants. One big branch breaks and the tree may be fatally imbalanced. The torrential rain adds several tons to the weight of the lopsided crown. A strike of lightning will deal a final blow. Slowly the immense tree hinges over. The lianas binding it to its neighbors tighten, snap.
“Others drag at surrounding branches. As the crown topples forward with increasing speed, it tears through the canopy with a roar of sustained smashing. The first branches hit the ground, followed seconds later by the earth-shaking thundering double thump as the immense trunk hits the ground and bounces. Then there is silence.
“But the death and fall of an old tree, also brings the promise of life to the small saplings that till now had stood in its shade! Many have remained only a foot high for 10 years, waiting for this moment. Now the sun shines brightly through the gap torn in the canopy by the fall. The strong, unaccustomed light, the first they have experienced in their lives triggers their growth. Seeds that have lain dormant in the ground, rapidly sprout. All race to grow and dominate in the new space that has been created. In a decade or so, just one or two attain their full height, the canopy is closed again and the stability of the life beneath restored.”
So will it be that the fall of a once-great entity shall lead to a renewal of the nation’s political life and the empowerment of its citizenry.
As Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said, the day before she was assassinated on October 31, 1984: “If I should be killed, every drop of my blood shall invigorate my country.”
Death and renewal are the age-old rhythm of societies as they are of individual lives. We need not fear the passing of the once-great. We should only worry that we are afraid to face the light of the Truth as it streams down from above.
Facing the Great Depression in 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his Inauguration Address told the American people: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Meaning: face our fears to begin the process of overcoming them. – June 4, 2014.