July 6, 2010
The Theatre of Nonsense
By Stanley Koh
COMMENT: Verbal garbage seems to be piling up everywhere lately, polluting the political environment with perverse logic and stupid rhetoric. Politicians talk as if they are oblivious of the reality that Malaysian voters are becoming more politically mature and can sniff the rubbish coming out of their mouths.
A Malaysian Politician
To win public trust and respect, politicians not only have to keep their grabbing hands away from the till, but also refrain from massaging or manipulating public perception. They should critically re-assess the misguided mantra that politics is perception.
When the man holding the reins of power publicly and unthinkingly accuses the opposition of lying, is he saying that the record of the ruling establishment is as clean as a white sheet of paper? Or is he saying that those in power are incapable of lying?
When the ruling regime publicly urges voters to continue supporting the establishment simply because the party in power has been tested numerous times, is it addressing idiots or Malaysians of average intelligence?
There are all kinds of liesbluffs, white lies, contextual lies, emergency lies, exaggerations, fabrications, barefaced lies, vicious liesand our politicians from both sides of the divide are guilty of all of them.
When a politician deliberately leaves his listener or reader with a misconception by not providing all the relevant facts, he is lying by omission.
When a ruling regime wants to protect powerful warlords despite serious allegations and documentary proof of their ownership of properties worth billions of ringgit, it can do so only by hiding the facts th! at are n ot yet public knowledge and ignoring the accusations, no matter how plausible.
By flaunting their perverse logic and idiotic claims in the press and on TV, our politicians only affirm the truth of the saying that stupidity is not a handicap in politics.
Could the problem be that there is a growing gulf of intelligence between political leaders and the Malaysian public?
Take for instance the accusation against certain media players that they were undermining the institution of Malay rulers in highlighting the plight of workers who received their salaries late. The royal families had nothing to do with it.
The responsibility of paying salaries lies with the ruling government. You cannot fault Malaysians for wondering why politicians are so keen to display their stupidity.
Blatant display of stupidity
Malaysians generally do not expect their leaders to be extra intelligent, but they do deserve to be spared the embarrassment of having those they voted for display their stupidity so generously in public.
The least they expect of their representatives is honesty in highlighting legitimate grouses that are pertinent to national interest, not superficiality or deception in making accusations against their political rivals.
How about the minister who warned against the dangers of twittering? Does one have to be a moron to be in the federal Cabinet?
And then there was the official who declared his support for sports betting, arguing that it would generate revenue and ignoring the social implications.
There seems to be no end to the blatant display of stupidity and sheer ignorance in public utterances. Talk is cheap, but it can be costly to political careers in these days of a politically wiser electorate.
When the opposition coalition is made to look as though it is ridden with problems, does it mean that the BN is trouble-free despite the theatrical infighting in MCA and MIC?
If an opposit! ion lead er can be publicly chastised for being friends with a fugitive, shouldnt it be pertinent for Malaysians to ask what the relationship between PERKASA and UMNO is? Our political language is increasingly becoming contradictory, deceptive and hollow.
The 20-year rule
The ruling regime rebukes the opposition for wanting to take over the government, as if this is a bad thing. What, then, should be the objective of an opposition party or coalition?
On the other side of the coin, the opposition parties should ask themselves whether they are indeed fighting for the wellbeing of Malaysians or merely trying to fulfil their dream of power.
A ruling party or its opposition can change public perception only when it is willing to deal with the truth with honestly, integrity and credibility.
In these times, when citizens mature in their thinking more quickly than their political leaders, it is imperative that conscientious voters unmask the intentions hidden behind open utterances.
When politicians believe winning is all that matters and try to justify unjustifiable means to self-vested ends, or when truth is sacrificed to political expediency, voters must beware. Some historians say it takes 20 years after an event has occurred to perceive it correctly. So we should know better now. Both Mahathirism and BN rule have gone on for more than 20 years.
Stanley Koh is the former head of MCA research unit.
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