Monday, April 14, 2008


Sim Kwang Yang has raised some very pertinent issues in his essay, "Whom should we trust?" Ultimately, we have to love and trust ourselves before we can love and trust anybody else. Otherwise we will end up behaving like the proverbial lemming, incapable of independent thought and action.

Every day I bump into people who continue to parrot well-worn clich├ęs about Anwar Ibrahim being tainted during his long stint in Umno, his unrelenting political ambition, his connections with the Zionist banking fraternity - and, worst of all, the Islamic zeal that first shot him to prominence as a hot-headed leader of ABIM (the Muslim Missionary Movement). All these negative perceptions of the man are ultimately rooted in deep fear of individuals like Anwar Ibrahim whose lives seem like epics compared to most of us.

Every culture produces its own cult heroes - strangers who appear from out of nowhere, slay an ogre, marry a princess, and end up ruling the kingdom. Most of us are fascinated by heroes. After all, that's where our role models come from. However, in recent times, with the rise of the corporate superpower, heroes have become a manufactured product. The mass media conspires to transform ordinary folks into superstars - and then, almost inevitably, they commit deicide by ripping their icons to shreds through vicious gossip and slander.

Sim rightly advises us to reclaim the authority that resides within each of us, to embody within our own beings the noble qualities of the hero. This is the mark of a mature individual. As more of us become our own heroes, we shall no longer be in awe of other heroes. Instead we will befriend and cooperate with them to manifest our collective dream of the Promised Land.

During Mahathir's 22-year reign as PM, he effectively dismantled all the mechanisms by which citizens of a functional democracy can replace non-performing or misbehaving public servants. Without journalistic freedom, no real information reaches the ground, only corporate propaganda. Without academic, artistic and intellectual freedom there can be no open dialogue on values, perceptions and collective visions. Without a politically neutral civil service and police force, a climate of Orwellian absolutism prevails. And without an impartial and independent judiciary, no justice can exist, nor can serious wrongs be righted.

In effect, Malaysian politics under Mahathir was like a public toilet with no working flush mechanism. There's nothing more unpleasant than walking into the loo only find Unsinkable Floating Objects in the bowl. With no flush - and no bucket and pail to perform the job manually - we had no choice but resign ourselves to the less-than-delightful odor and the disgusting sight of public servants, fattened on sleazy lucre, who simply refused to resign or retire even when they had long overstayed their welcome.

Rather than succumb to mistrust and fear, we would do much better to regard Anwar Ibrahim as the Master Plumber who will take on the unpleasant but absolutely necessary task of fixing the flush mechanism. Once that is accomplished, nobody will be reluctant to "get their hands dirty" by participating in local politics as every adult citizen should. The public bowels will be regularly moved and Malaysia's infamous stinky loos will become a nightmare of our collective past. In other words, let's get a grip on our conditioned reflexes. BN has ruled us for 50 years by playing on our fears. They fanned the flames of the non-Malays' Islamophobia even as they played up the Malays' anxieties about being overwhelmed by noisy platoons of pig-eating pagans.

In a fear-free atmosphere of open discussion - such as we are experiencing for the first time courtesy of the Internet - clarity, truth and wisdom have a much better chance to prevail over atavistic superstitions and taboos. When the public lavatories are clean and functional, people will be less likely to walk around full of their own crap - and public servants who become bloated with egotism and greed will find themselves unceremoniously flushed away.


Anonymous said...

Hi Antares,

Good analogy, as "crap" seems appropriate to describe BN's last 50 years rule.

Like I say before, presently I believe there's nobody other then Anwar Ibrahim who has it to take down UMNO.

By giving him a chance, I hope to think we are also giving ourselves a chance to see a different Malaysia.

Looking down at current UMNO developments, time is the essence for PR to seize opportunity to tilt the power in PR's balance before UMNO recoups their position.

The UMNO extremists who is eyeing to replace Pak Lah cannot be expected to play fair, after all, they are taught by their guru, Tun Dr MM - the master of trump up charges !!

Starmandala said...

Quite right, Gan. I managed to climb over a side wall into the Sultan Sulaiman Club earlier this evening to hear Anwar address a crowd of perhaps 20,000. My body felt happy to be standing there shoulder to shoulder with "The Rakyat" - and, believe me, when fear and mistrust are absent, people are so much more lovable and befriendable! Today is April 15, and Anwar is free at last from the ban placed upon him from holding public office. Umno stalwarts have ordered additional supplies of adult diapers for Badawi, Najib and Mahathir.

Anonymous said...

Wah ... no wonder BN should fear Anwar.

The dare to visible supporters already so many - I am sure ther are many closet ones.

Seriously, we need to thank Pak Lah for freeing Anwar - he's the one person instrumental for giving Anwar this opportunity.

If he had been anybody else, Anwar will never see the light out of his prison walls.

Good luck to us all as we turn to a new chapter of Malaysia.

Kalamari said...

As someone who grew up 'within' the aforementioned 'crap', I cannot say I feel as strongly as you about the situation as I knew nothing better to compare it to. But even so, knowing what could have been had the national 'jamban' been clean, I rejoice to see the stirrings of a 'democratic' country after decades of sleep.

The next few years will be interesting.

Anonymous said...


Look at the barking on Anwar that's happening at this link:

Anonymous said...

Dear Freedom Fighters, both Online & Offline...

I have been supporting the boycott the newspapers initiative for sometime & I have done my push & pull marketing rather we'll around my circle of family, friends & contacts. A few have stopped buying, some don't already. A lot whom still want to purchase the papers, I passed on the info - which was the worst in all mediums & urged them to switch to the least worst. For English papers, the worst was the The Star (Spinning & BN coverage). Data can be found on the People's Parliament.

Now, the story. I have noticed that some, are still purchasing the newspapers, especially "The Star" every now & then, especially on Saturday's for... "The Recruitment Section!"

So, I urge all those whom support this cause to pass the word. Only get your recruitment information online. Do not purchase the msm & even browse through it.

PR & others (mid-long term effort), get more beginner computer classes up. Teaching people to use the comp, get the news, browse & apply for jobs, using the email, etc. Keep the fees very low, give it free to the very poor, catch the young, educate! PR, set up a IT centre in the poor areas, with news printed out & pasted there regularly. Put up a few PCs with internet connections for the poor to share & use for free during office hours.

Check out MT article "My Version of the Truth" by RPK, for some related info.

Thanks, please pass the word!