Archive for October 19th, 2009

The New God of UMNO

By M. Bakri Musa

In his celebrated novel Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan (RSJ – Spikes Throughout the Pathway), Shahnon Ahmad chronicles the seemingly endless traps of poverty endured by a kampong family. Or in his elegant words, “bencana-bencana yang tidak bisa langsai selagi jantung berdegup [dan] nadi berdenyut … ” (never ending cycle of calamities endured as long as your heart beats and pulse throbs). Shahnon asserts that the pain could only be felt by those willing to reflect on and empathize with the struggles of our pap-pak tani (peasant farmers).

This thought haunts me as I reflect on the hoopla surrounding the recent UMNO General Assembly. The soaring rhetoric of “1-Malaysia” and of reform is a universe away from the world inhabited by RSJ’s main character, Lahuma. The irony strikes hard as the Lahumas are the very people UMNO professes to champion.

The biting irony does not end there. Many of the Assembly participants, including the high-flying ones, are only a generation or two away from the deprivations so painfully detailed in RSJ. Those agonizing memories must have been seared into them by their parents and grandparents. That should motivate anyone to do something to alleviate the debilitating poverty still experienced by so many today.
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