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M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

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Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Even UMNO's Morons Are Teachable

Even UMNO’s Morons Are Teachable

(Malaysiakini.com, November 8, 2007)

Editorial lead: If enough voters were to teach these Umno operatives a lesson, they might just learn to behave themselves for the better permanently.

Hishammuddin’s decidedly subdued speech to UMNO Youth at the party’s recent General Assembly was in mark contrast to his racist histrionics of last year. This showed one thing: even these morons in UMNO are teachable after all.

Last year we witnessed the revolting spectacle of Hishammuddin repeatedly stabbing the sterile chilled air of the PWTC Conference Hall. The only thing missing was the foam frothing from his wide, open mouth to make that silly scene really complete as a sandiwara (shadow play).

Hishammuddin of course received a rousing response in that hall for his piece of titillating theatrics. That prompted me to write then that we should expect his deputy Khairy Jamaluddin to outdo Hishammuddin at this year’s gathering. Meaning, Khairy would probably attempt a silat with his keris instead of merely jabbing an imagined enemy in the air. I also wrote that the only way to end such silly stunts would be to have the klutz Khairy accidentally stab himself. Only through such divine interventions would these latter day Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat pretenders be taught a memorable lesson.

Fortunately, thanks to the outrage expressed by ordinary Malaysians to last year’s crudities, we were thankfully spared similar stupid spectacles this year. The good lord need not have to intervene after all to stop these childish charades.

To be sure, such outrages were expressed only in cyberspace in the various web blogs and Internet portals like Malaysiakini.com and Malaysia-Today.net. Our intellectuals and pussy footing pundits remained curiously silent. I interpreted that to mean that they must have approved of the stunts and the accompanying venomous messages spewed by these characters.

In contrast to the furor in the Malaysian blogosphere, there were apologias galore in the mainstream media. One sycophantic columnist excused the whole ugly episode as nothing more than “party politics as usual.” She duly noted, with approval undoubtedly, that Najib Razak had many years earlier dripped his keris with tomato ketchup to emphasize a particularly racist point when he was UMNO Youth leader addressing a similar crowd.

Seeing that Najib is now UMNO’s Deputy President and thus the nation’s Deputy Prime Minister, a mark of success by any measure, Hishammuddin must have taken his cue from his beres (brother-in-law by marriage). Thus it was not far fetched of me to predict last year that Khairy would, in a “monkey see, monkey do” style, ape Hishammuddin.

The Greater Lesson

There is a greater lesson here. That is, despite the government’s (UMNO specifically) repeated attempts at ignoring and dismissing the role of bloggers and the Internet generally, we who use cyberspace to spread our message are making an impact, whether the establishment acknowledges it or not.

If the likes of Hishammuddin truly believe in their own message that cyberspace is irrelevant or that it is the limited only to the fringes of Malaysian society, they would have continued behaving like the mischievous monkeys that they were last year. Nor for that matter would UMNO establish its halfwit “cyber troopers” to try and shut down some of the highly influential websites like Malaysia-Today.

To commentators in the Barisan-controlled media, the current mellowness of UMNO leaders is not the consequence of the severe criticisms in cyberspace rather to their being pragmatic and wanting to appear “moderate” and “rational” ahead of a soon-to-be-expected general election. That is the mainstream media’s spin, their way of ingratiating themselves to the establishment, their paymaster.

Never mind that such a portrayal merely exposes the cynicism and scheming nature of these UMNO operatives. Such a characterization means that they have not really changed, merely put on a cosmetic cover over their ugly racist stripes, mascara as it were, to make themselves presentable to voters.

If that were so, it would be even more important for voters to disabuse these UMNO operatives of their collective delusion. Even if they were to be minimally successful in the elections, that would only embolden them to be even more cynical the next time. They would then think that they could hoodwink and manipulate voters at will, like just before an election. Their contempt for citizens would only be reinforced.

That being the case it is all the more crucial that we should teach them a more memorable lesson, one that would stick with them forever. We know that morons are slow learners, but then as we have seen even UMNO morons are teachable. We just have to repeat the lessons more often, and increasing the punishment more severe each time they regress or forget their earlier lessons.

If enough voters were to teach these UMNO operatives a lesson, they might just learn to behave themselves for the better permanently. That would be good for them and for us, as well as for the nation.

Power of the Blogosphere

Meanwhile until that election comes, we in blogosphere must continue teaching them their much-needed lessons. That is our obligation, especially now that those whose traditional job is to keep those in power in check and the public informed – the journalists, reporters, and others in the fourth estate – have betrayed themselves and their profession.

Ours is not a hopeless cause. We have seen Chief Justice Ahmad Feiruz unceremoniously rebuffed for extension of his tenure. Former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has done more to cleanse the rot that is the Malaysian judiciary with his release of that explosive tape (showing a senior lawyer attempting to fix a judicial appointment) than when he was in power!

The mainstream media may have ignored Anwar and that tape, but thanks to bloggers and citizen journalists of the ‘Net, Ahmad Feiruz is now out. He joins former director of the Anti Corruption Agency, Zulkipli Mat Noor, another deserved casualty of cyberspace journalism. Our job is to make sure that this gallery of rogues keeps expanding.

Earlier, Raja Petra exposed the profligate spending of our “humble” and “pious” Prime Minister Abdullah in acquiring a RM200 million corporate jet for his use, financed of course by taxpayers’ money. Thanks to Raja Petra’s diligent work and pungent expose, Abdullah had to backtrack his earlier denial by clarifying that the government did not acquire the aircraft, rather a government-owned “private” entity did. Such semantic gymnastics and nuances of language!

As for the mainstream commentators, editors and journalists, they are busy transcribing ministers’ press releases. Such flagrant abuses of power by the powerful do not interest these journalists.

Already through the power of the Internet, BERSIH, a coalition of NGOs, will be organizing this Saturday, November 10th a massive display of civic dissatisfaction with the government. Specifically their petition will address a longstanding problem: fair and honest conduct of elections, that basic prerequisite of democracy. While I will not be able to physically take part in this worthy rally, I will be there in spirit. Already the Istana has berkenan (consented) to receive the citizens’ petition!

Meanwhile UMNO Youth Deputy Leader Khairy has stated his opposition to the proposed rally. He has asked the government to “come down hard” on the citizens. Presumably his model is Pakistan’s Musharraf. Someone ought to remind Khairy that it is the basic freedom of citizens in a democracy to petition their government. We are also free to associate. One wonders what did he learn at Oxford?

My objective as a committed cyberspace commentator is to make that rouge gallery bigger. I will not be satisfied, nor will I stop, until that gallery has the country’s biggest rogue included in its rooster.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Bakri Musa,

I have been reading your articles now and then. I do respect your views and concern for a cleaner Malaysia.

I fully agree with you that a lot of unscruplous mismanagements are happening in our midst. So much of public funds being wasted in the name of crony lies. The main stream media is not a reliable source for news. Luckily I get to read some sites similiar like yours.

Though I could not particiapte at the recent rally for a cleaner Malaysia my prayers and support has always been there.

I pray Mr Anwar Ibhrahim can guide Malaysia back to its original position of its greatness.

The present government has made not even any one race fully satisfied. In the name of NEP they seem to be hoodwinking the Malays themselves. After 50 years of Independence the government cannot even alleviate even one race itself shows thier inefficiency.

I love to see Malaysia as a great country with its varied diversity as factors for success. We all love Malaysia and I am glad you are helping to make it one.

Apparow Sannasai

7:45 PM  
Blogger gnute said...

Oh, I am glad to discover your blog! I quoted you in mine. Thanks for the article.

12:42 AM  

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