An Assembly Tale

by Azmi Sharom
Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The scene is a small terrace house, somewhere in Kelana Jaya. Ten year old Mary and her younger brother Timothy approach their father who is sitting in the living room flossing his teeth after a large meal.

“Papa, Timmy and I would like to tell you something”

“Oh, really, both of you want to gather together and say something?”

“Yes, we think it is a very important issue and we would like to express ourselves to the whole family”.

“I see, so you want to assemble peacefully. You are not going to get violent are you?”

“Of course not Papa!”

“Good. Good. Very well, you can’t say I am a wicked and authoritarian father. I am in fact very liberal; much more liberal than other fathers, for example that Mr Hlaing from Myanmar. I am very happy to give you the space to get together with your brother and express yourselves to your little hearts’ content”.

“Oh thank you Papa. You are such a kind and understanding Papa”.

“I know, I am, all my buddies tell me. However, I just have a few teeny tiny conditions”
“What are they Papa”?

“There are some places in the house where you cannot gather. The kitchen is one. It is a very sensitive area where food is being prepared and I don’t want you to get in the way of your mother who is busy cooking there. Also you can’t gather in the dining room because that is where we eat. The living room is off limits due to the fact that the television is there and you would be interrupting the quiet enjoyment of the family by making noise when we are trying to watch TV. The garage is a no go zone. If you go tramping around in there you might jolly well scratch my car and we can’t be having that can we?”

“I suppose not Papa. Is there any where else we can’t gather?”

“Let me think. Of course! You can’t assemble in the toilet”.

“In the toilet? Why not?”

“You know very well that I suffer from incredible bouts of gas and I need the toilet to be free at all times so I can relieve the build up”.

“So, where on earth can we gather”?
“Your bedroom”.

“How can the other family members know what we are complaining about if we are stuck in our bedroom”?
“You silly little thing. If the rest of the family want to hear what you are saying they’ll just have to go to the bedroom isn’t it? Except little Annie. She’s too young and I don’t want her getting confused by what you have to say”

“Are those all your conditions Papa”?

“No, I have one more. If any of the family members complain about what you are saying, then I won’t let you speak”.

“That is not fair. You know that big brother Abe never agrees with us and he is bound to complain. He is your favourite and you always listen to him no matter how stupid his views are”

“Now, now, you are being over emotional. I don’t have any favourites and it is irresponsible for you to say so. See, I let you speak and you say irresponsible things. There are limits to freedom you know”.

“Your limits have no limits papa. This is too much.”

“Alright then, if you are unhappy with my rules you know what you can do.”

“You can go to your room and talk to yourself over there”.

Mary and Timothy trudge unhappily to their bedroom. Suddenly their father calls to them.

“Wait! Wait! Mary, I said you can go to your bedroom. I did not say that you and Timmy can go there together in a procession. When you walk in a group you block up the hallway and that is very bad. There’s a good girl. Now off you go and when you are finished, go make me a cup of tea”.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Friday, 2 December 2011 - 4:43 pm

    Honestly, the piece made its point but its TOO cute. The only way to make it work is this – tell the Felda folks that PSA means that THEY can’t gather and go to Isa Samad office to complain, they can’t go to Gemas to look at NFC fidlot, they can’t go to MAHB office to complain airport tax make plane ticket expensive for them to fly..

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Friday, 2 December 2011 - 4:59 pm

    The repressive and oppressive Peaceful Assembly Bill – now enacted in law – is used to protect the ruling regime and not the rakyat. Such law must be abolished when Pakatan comes to federal power as it violates human rights and goes against the constitution.

  3. #3 by dagen on Friday, 2 December 2011 - 5:44 pm

    Wwwweeelllll not toooo bad an analogy except for the ending. To be realistic the kids should leap and clap and cry in joy for the having a caring father.

  4. #4 by cemerlang on Friday, 2 December 2011 - 6:56 pm

    Then Mary and Timothy go outside the house, sit next to the door, waving their placards saying we want to be heard. Daddy tells them to come inside. No, they say until Daddy agrees to what they want.

    Now your turn to continue the story

  5. #5 by monsterball on Friday, 2 December 2011 - 8:54 pm

    Azmi Sharom is too smart for UMNO b buggers to handle.
    If someone like him…. applies for membership…his/her application sure to be rejected.

  6. #6 by seah_thomas on Friday, 2 December 2011 - 9:02 pm

    Azmi is Brilliant
    lts a masterpiece
    l never see it that way………..its awesome

  7. #7 by monsterball on Saturday, 3 December 2011 - 12:01 am

    Why can’t the UMNO b buggers talk like Azmi?
    Why can’t they crack jokes and insult?
    Why are they so angry and sound so disappointed?
    They can’t. They can never be like Azmi.
    They are natural born thieves.
    And thieves do not joke about stealing.
    You expose them…they fight back with all sorts on stunts.
    They can never be caught…as they have BILL.
    All they can do…is keep showing how powerful they are.
    They are not elected at 12th GE and still govern.
    They feel with BILL joining in….the power of the PEOPLE is weakened.
    But the way they spoke recently…expose all the acting…employing BILL as bodyguard…TAK BOLEH PAKAI.

  8. #8 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 3 December 2011 - 12:19 am

    Azmi Sharom’s set of house rules is an extreme analogy of the Peace Assembly Act. It is not like as if in a small terrace house one cannot assemble at all in the kitchen, dining and living rooms, garage, toilet, leaving only the bed room to assemble. It’s more like one can’t use the kitchen only when mama is cooking, the dining and living rooms only when food is served or TV is on, the garage only when papa is repairing his car or the toilet only when he is suffering from incredible bouts of gas – and outside the garden all the time except when it is raining! Obviously there is a time and place for any activity. There are limits and rules or else there is also a chance of chaos and other activities/interest of importance suffer. As there are – and must exist- house rules, the question does not boil own to only whether the rules are reasonable, with one or two that should be amended or excised.

  9. #9 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 3 December 2011 - 12:19 am

    The most pivotal question is whether, given the inherent factual and interpretive ambiguities of words that express these house rules – who is the papa and what is his character: whether this authoritative figure who makes, interprets and enforces the house rules is reasonable and fair in interpreting and enforcing the rules amongst his children or is otherwise bias, unfair, capricious and play favourites amongst occupants in the house. If fair and trustworthy, the house rules, no matter how extensive the limits an no matter vesting how much discretionary latitude unto papa, they will still be accepted as reasonable; if papa were perceived unfair, capricious and bias in interpreting and enforcing house rules, no set of house rules no matter how well thought out and crafted will be acceptable. That’s the gist of the problem here!

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