In our Selected Exhortations category, we republish interesting stuff such as must-read articles and essays not originally written exclusively for the blawg, and which have come to our attention. Please feel free to email email@example.com if you would like to reproduce your writing, but first follow our Writer's Guide here.
This post is by Marina Mahathir, and was published on her personal blog. It is reproduced with her kind permission, following some possible inception-mind-control thingamabob by Lord Bobo.
I know it's been a while since I posted anything here but really, work aside, I've really not felt like writing much here. Things seem to be totally going crazy in this country of ours that it just beggars belief. And even when you want to comment on some issue, something else even more stupid comes up.
Penang PERKASA Youth chief Mohd Risuan Asudin showing aggression at the anti-Lynas rally in Penang on Sunday. Risuan once presented a bulldozer to Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng in Komtar. "During the fracas where a journalist was attacked, some Malay youths (male and females) came to us reporters to point out the attackers and told us what they witnessed," a journalist at the event said. Photo: Yeap Ban Choon
What happened to our gentle people that we now behave like thugs with people we don't agree with?
What happened to our reasonable people that we ban things on the flimsiest of pretexts?
Why do we think that doing any of these will make people love us and therefore vote for us?
Where do we think we're going with all this?
I am embarassed beyond belief about the Erykah Badu debacle. Imagine being banned when you're already in the country, and accused of wanting to insult the faith of people in your host country. Based on a bit of body art. How flimsy is our faith when it can be shaken by the sight of a piece of graphic art!
And yet she then goes over to the largest Muslim country in the world, where her poster (with the body art) is displayed everywhere with no incident and where she performs in front of the President of the country. Of course, not wanting to ever lose in this so-called war to uphold our religion ( we need a war to do that?), we make snide remarks about an entire country of over 200 million people of not really being Muslim. Guess there is no better way to win a battle than by insulting others. (In that case, let's not worry about those not really Muslim domestic workers who aren't going to come work for us any time soon, shall we?)
The non-tattoos that Badu do.
I'm tired of this nonsense. Worse, I'm tired of this nonsense having an official face. It's one thing when some group of idiots say nonsensical things but I do expect better from those who claim to rule us. To say that the Star was wrong to have published the picture (even though they did apologise) is one thing, but what has that got to do with banning the concert? People have already bought tickets, some even came from other countries so already paid for air tickets and hotel accomodation and those who bought tickets on February 22 were also donating 20% of the ticket price to Women's Aid Organisation (WAO). All gone because a tiny group of people, who probably had no intention of going to the concert anyway, decided they needed to be offended. It's not as if she was giving a free concert in the middle of Dataran Merdeka and that piece of graphic art was going to be the backdrop of the stage. People choose to buy tickets to go and see her, and the tickets were not cheap. If they felt that their faith might be shaken by seeing her perform, then they can always stay home.
There are far more important things to worry about. But time and time again, our officials have shown that they'd rather deal with the small things in life rather than what really matters. It's far more important to them to ban children's books, than ensure that our kids grow up with the best education possible. Perhaps it's because they don't have any education themselves (and I don't necessarily count having a degree as equivalent to being educated), that they behave this way. (See my last column on this subject here.)
Explain to me though how behaving like a bunch of louts will make you win votes. I may not always agree with those in opposition to the government but it's hard not to sympathise when you get thugs riding motorbikes into halls, trying to drown out ceramah, shouting down people and worse of all, physically shoving and beating up people. It makes me think of Middle Eastern politics, not Malaysian.
I remember too how at the march to protest the Peaceful Assembly Bill, someone actually organised a bunch of fake protestors with a fake banner claiming to support 'free sex'. They were young, given t-shirts and a banner and told what to do. What are we teaching our kids? To lie and deceive? That's the proper Malay and Islamic way to bring up children?
And all those posters (in colour too! Who paid for them?) of Ambiga and Pak Samad Said saying that a vote for them is a vote for free sex! Seriously?? Pak Samad? The National Laureate? Who led a march against PPSMI?? And Ambiga, who's a middle-aged Mum just like me! I guess only dumb people expect us to believe this.
And that's the trouble..when stupid people rule, they think their electorate must be even dumber than them. And why not? Everything is about dumbing down our minds, whether it's through the media or through our education system. I can't tell you how many requests I get from students for interviews to do research on totally laughable subjects. I don't blame them because if their supervisors let their research proposals through, it's the supervisors who are responsible. (I kid you not, their 'research' often consisted of newspaper articles.) One student recently sent me a 'questionaire' consisting of three multiple choice questions. And then we wonder why we have people saying this.
The thing is if we are smart, then we're often saying very different things from what those who rule us would like to hear. So since they can't fight with intelligence, they resort to the same old trick – discredit and demonise. Which to me is about as effective as pouring a kettle of boiling water on a mountain of snow.
I know the elections are coming soon. And as always, the tenor of talk gets lowered as everyone supposedly vies for the vote. But this time it's gotten even worse. So trashy is the talk these days that you have to wonder if some people are desperate or what.
So I'm just saying to those who aspire to get our votes, here is what you should do:
- Be nice, be gracious, be polite — rudeness makes you look ugly.
- If you disagree with someone, fine. But disagree courteously and intelligently, don't just badmouth them.
- If you don't think someone's right, give your reasons why.
- At least pretend your audience is smart and live up to them.
- If you really think violence is the answer, we'll find you a ticket to Syria where you can indulge all you want.
- If you really think you're a defender of Islam, we'll get you a ticket to trail the Republicans on their election campaign. We'll even get you a spot on Rush Limbaugh's show where you can do your defending thing.
- Do stop suddenly kissing babies and hugging old people. Seriously, we don't buy it.
- Leave your expensive watch at home if you're going to sympathise with how people are coping with their monthly expenses. Unless you're going to donate the cost of the watch to some worthwhile cause.
- Lower your volume. Shouting something stupid doesn't make it smarter.
- Tell us what your principles in life are and how you aim to stick to them.
As for the rest of us, perhaps we should be more discerning as to who we choose to rule us. I think we should look at individuals and judge them on their principles, on their qualifications and on how they behave. Not just because they're the NotBN or the NotPakatan candidates. There are good people on all sides so we should do all we can to get good people in. And perhaps we should be writing our individual demands and giving it to the candidates when they go round canvassing for our support. Just on a piece of paper saying "I will vote for you if…"
Mine would say:
- …if you're female (yes, we need more women in Parliament!)
- …if you vow to fight corruption
- …if you promise not to impose your personal beliefs on me in any form
- …if you support a free press, freedom of speech and freedom of expression
- …if you believe in equal rights for everyone
- …if you promise to protect the weakest and most marginalised in our society
And if you trashtalk til the cows come home, then expect the chickens to come to roost.
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Posted on 6 March 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.
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