Monday, August 26, 2019

Where Malaysia is headed (Part 1) [Originally posted April 2009]

Somebody pointedly asked a few days ago: WHERE IS MALAYSIA HEADING? My response is: if Umno/BN continue to hog the political stage (not to mention the public purse and the police force), we're headed straight for unmitigated disaster.

Rather than waste more energy whacking those scaly-skinned troglodytes (or tempurung dwellers) who cling like overfed, bloated ticks to power, I decided to start jotting down my thoughts on where I'd like to see this country headed.

It's going to be a many-layered, multidimensional, non-linear exercise in visionary thinking and there's no way I can cover sufficient ground with just one blogpost. So I'll make this the first of a series, to be written and uploaded as and when inspiration strikes. In between I shall be posting other material, including other people's work, whenever I stumble upon something that says more or less what's on my mind.

The most essential human quality that's grotesquely lacking in Malaysia (indeed, the whole world) appears to be HONESTY.

We would like our public servants to be honest - whether they happen to be a minister, an office clerk, or just a police constable. But how honest are we? I mean, really...

I have dear friends who are for the most part truly decent folk and as honest as humanly possible - yet they conceal trivial things from their parents.

One, for instance, has never smoked in front of his parents - though he's been a regular smoker for more than 40 years. Other friends never once revealed their own sexual preferences to their parents for fear of shocking them. So the old folks died wondering why their offspring never reproduced.

A few other friends confessed that their parents don't know they're actually cohabiting with their boyfriends. I had a friend once who dated a guy for five years before finding out the fellow was already married with 3 or 4 kids. She immediately ditched him and married a man of dubious character who already had two or three other wives - but that's a whole different story.

I've made a lifelong study of why humans become dishonest and the conclusion I've reached is extremely straightforward:

Humans lie mostly to avoid punishment - or to save others from pain.

The only way we can unlearn this deeply ingrained survival mechanism is to disinvent the punitive god who punishes the disobedient (or mutinous) and rewards the docile (or hypocritical).

Imagine, instead, a completely simpatico deity who's more like a trusted confidant(e). One who is totally aware of your little quirks and shortcomings - and loves you all the same without harsh judgment. Such an intimate friend can be relied upon to stick with you through thick and thin. However, if you abuse this trust by doing something terribly stupid and shortsighted - let's say you cheat this dear friend or tell ugly untruths about him or her - the only consequence would be the loss, temporary or permanent, of your cherished friendship, and that would be punishment enough.

There are specific instances when being honest is countersurvival and universal laws are supended: for instance, if you're traveling in a train and bandits come aboard to rob the passengers. You wouldn't be labeled "dishonest" if you failed to hand over the diamonds hidden inside your boots. Nor would you be required to reveal to the bandits that you just saw your traveling companion stuff a thick wad of currency notes inside her brassiere.

In effect, the more accommodating our fellow humans become, the more likely we are to become truly honest.

Here are some imaginary scenarios that graphically illustrate the tremendous benefits of rejecting and disabling the punitive deity program hardwired in our DNA from countless generations of hand-me-down erroneous data.

Let's say your 16-year-old daughter goes to a friend's birthday party. She's supposed to come home before midnight but doesn't show up till way past two in the morning. As a worried father, the programmed response would be to interrogate her sternly and demand to know where she has been and what she has been doing and with whom. What if your daughter is innately honest and simply says: "I know I was supposed to get back at midnight, dad, I'm sorry to be so late. But I met a really goodlooking guy named Joe, he's about 20, and he suggested I go for a drive in his new car. We had such a great time talking and looking at the stars from the hilltop, neither of us remembered to look at our watches. Suddenly it was 2:00AM and he drove like the wind to deliver me safely back to my doorstep. He told me to apologize to my parents on his behalf for bringing me home so late, and he would really like to take me out again next Friday."

An enlightened father would take a deep breath, sigh, and smile. He might mutter: "Well, you got me really worried, you know. Next time you do something like this, at least send me an SMS before turning off your cellphone!" It's always a shock to realize your baby has grown up, and is ready to do adult things.

However, an unenlightened father would slap his daughter around and threaten her with the wrath of god, thereby forcing her to become a compulsive liar and a sneak. You can bet your last dollar all the lying politicians in our midst had fathers who were in the habit of slapping, caning or humiliating them for every minor transgression.

Let's see how problems easily resolve themselves as soon as HONESTY is brought to bear on the issue...

The biggest problem I can think of right now is that Malaysia is saddled with a crime minister instead of a prime minister.

Allow me to take on for a moment the role of God (I've had lots of practice and it comes natural to me). One morning, the crime minister gets up after a sleepless night in a cold sweat and decides to pray to me. Because I can sense he is sincere in pleading for some sound advice, I decide to manifest in human form in his bedroom.

The crime minister is stunned. "Dear G-g-g-god," he stutters. "Forgive me, please forgive me for never having actually believed in you... till NOW!"

"It's okay, Pink Lips, you aren't the only one!" I chuckle benignly, patting him on his bald pate. "If I had a dollar for every human who only pretends to believe in me, I'd be billionaire several times over. Not that I'd know what to do with all that cash."

The crime minister is silent and contrite. Obviously, he's unaccustomed to conversing with God.

"So... what's the problem, kiddo?" I enquire gently, though I already know what's troubling the poor rascal.

"I-I-I... I've been a very b=b-b-bad boy," he begins. "Done so many terrible things. I know I'm not f-f-f-fit to be leader of this country...."

"Well, it's a good start you're admitting to this. Where's that witchy wife of yours?"

"Oh, er... she's... she's in the bathroom.... stomach upset... be out in a minute, I think."

"Well, let's wait for her," I suggest, "since the worst of your really serious problems began when you met and mated with her."

The crime minister's wife emerges from the bathroom and screams.

"Who the hell is that?" she quizzes her trembling spouse more in anger than in shock.

"Er... er... you won't believe this, honey... but it's God... it's really God! I asked for help... but didn't expect him to show up so soon!"

"We don't need his help!" the witchy wife shrieks. "Tell him to leave at once or we'll get Khalid to deal with him!"

"I don't know how he can live with someone as uncouth as you," I say quietly.

"Listen, you!" the witch shrills, approaching me with her chubby arms akimbo.

"Shut the fuck up, bitch, and plonk your fat arse on the bed... right now!" I order.

Her eyes widen in horror and for a moment she is struck dumb. Whimpering audibly, she obeys, casting an anxious glance at her husband who, at this moment, does not at all resemble a real crime minister. Indeed, he looks just like a fat choir boy who's been caught wanking behind the altar.

[to be continued... first posted 12 April 2009, reposted 12 April 2013]