Come to the light(-hearted) side

Yow Hong Chieh
The Malaysian Insider
Oct 01, 2011

OCT 1 — So Jabba the Hutt has struck the first blow against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s new reform package barely two weeks after it was announced.

Despite promising to give more latitude to the media, his administration’s knee-jerk response to the “Undilah” video has only demonstrated that old habits die hard — if something disagrees with you, ban it.

The issue for me is not whether Pete Teo had intended to draw parallels between Najib and the hermaphroditic mob boss.

Only Teo truly knows the answer to that and, even if the allegation were true, the last time I checked it wasn’t a crime to be a hypocrite (in this case, to be allegedly partisan in what was intended to be a non-partisan project).

The issue is the disproportionate reaction of government to the perceived slight. To think the wheels of our state machinery were put in motion for what is, at worst, a sly but harmless dig at the current administration.

Lighten up, guys.

If online news portals can shrug off an arson threat from Umno Senator Ezam Mohd Nor, you should be able to take a joke too.

Let’s be clear. The message of the video is simple: Take ownership of your country by registering to vote and casting your ballot come polling day. If not, don’t come a-whinging when government enacts policies you’re opposed to.

The rest is irrelevant, including all two seconds (in a five-minute video) of what must’ve been a very sweaty cosplayer standing at a bus stop next to a poster of the prime minister.

In any case, if votes could be diverted so easily by such mind tricks, Barisan Nasional (BN) should expect nothing less than a clean sweep in the next general election.

The ruling coalition does, after all, have absolute control of the airwaves, through which an unending barrage of subliminal and not-so-subliminal messages praising the establishment are beamed straight into the homes of millions of Malaysians every day.

But obviously, that’s not how it works. Four opposition-led states and the biggest electoral rout in the nation’s history prove voters’ minds are a bit more resilient than that.

Voters tend to worry about more critical issues, like stagnant wages in the face of runaway inflation, appropriate use of public funds as well as quality education and healthcare.

So here’s the bottom line. As oxymoronic as it may sound, the Najib administration must learn to take a joke if it wants its promises for more freedom of expression to be taken seriously.

If the government wishes for Malaysia to become a truly robust democracy, it must be prepared to be skewered on a weekly basis. Watch The Jay Leno Show, Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, Bremner, Bird and Fortune or Spitting Image if you think “Undilah” was out of order.

Anything less, and the joke really is on you.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Saturday, 1 October 2011 - 5:44 pm

    The banning on the “Undilah” video merely showed that BN is desperate and has great worry that it will lose come GE13. If BN is well-accepted by the rakyat, it should have nothing to fear and worry about.

  2. #2 by rockdaboat on Saturday, 1 October 2011 - 6:08 pm

    Our so-called leaders are really pathetic.

    Video or no video we will vote the opposition, even if they put a pair of shoe in contest!

  3. #3 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 1 October 2011 - 6:53 pm

    The problem faced by those who consider themselves the custodians & protectors of the BN’s interests and power is this: because of so many wrong things the BN has done or is alleged to have done in its 50 yrs of power, a situation has arisen that whatever that is right and defensible publicly (like for examples Bersih’s Cause or Undilah’s message) becomes automatically wrong and threatening against the political interests and power preservation of the BN, if allowed to proceed! Bersih is good example: there’s nothing wrong with fair and clean elections per se – it’s a message good against the whole world- but if the BN has for so long won elections notwithstanding the lack of fair and clean elections, then clean and fair elections, if carried out, will be construed as posing a risk inimical to its political chances and return to power.

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 1 October 2011 - 6:56 pm

    Likewise nothing in wrong in the Undilah message that the country has problems but when one like Ku Li (critical of UMNO) urges every one to vote to solve the problems – and the problems are present with BN being 50 yrs in power- then there is a subliminal message that UMNO/BN is the problem and to solve the problem implies that more especially the young should vote and the vote should not be given to the “problem”!

    Just like having Jabba the Hutt” beside a poster of PM Najib. (Now Jabba the Hutt is a fictional character in George Lucas’s space opera film saga Star Wars which is often at least in the US used as a political caricature of (say) corruption…Now that ‘subliminal’ message can be construed as the PM either trying to grapple with that problem or could be interpreted as doing nothing about it or worse still -because Jabba is coincidentally obese- identified with it.

  5. #5 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 1 October 2011 - 6:59 pm

    Of course, as Rais said, certain quarters will be offended by the clip. They would be because they identify their vested interest with the status quo identified with BN’s rule. It is the guilty conscience that feels the most anxious and gives the most unfavourable interpretation to the subliminal’ message behind the clip. That being the case of course the clip cannot be allowed to be viewed on national TV because national TV is one of the regulated organs by which positive propaganda is disseminated to help and not sabotage the ruling party/coalition. Just like the ban on Bersih, so the clamp/ban on Undilah clip will generate more publicity defeating the very original purpose of the ban. It is easy to say why not take the light hearted side but when it comes to power, vested interests, lucrative contracts and possible accountability if Opposition ever wins election, it is no laughing matter to be taken light heartedly!

  6. #6 by sheriff singh on Saturday, 1 October 2011 - 8:51 pm

    That was no Jabba the Hutt. It was Jibby the Hick.

  7. #7 by sheriff singh on Saturday, 1 October 2011 - 8:53 pm

    Lets be frank. He just isn’t ‘cool’.

  8. #8 by boh-liao on Sunday, 2 October 2011 - 9:09 am

    Dis shows d TRUE color of UmnoB, democracy n no control of news ONLY if d actions n news paint a glorious picture of UmnoB, otherwise no go

  9. #9 by k1980 on Sunday, 2 October 2011 - 10:46 am

    Appearances are deceptive. Look at the sweet baby in the photo below. You will never ever foresee that in years to come, he was to cause the murders of millions of innocent people

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