Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dean Johns does it yet again! You've GOT to read this one, folks...

Malaysiakini columnist Dean Johns hits another bull's eye with this punchy piece. His divinely inspired heading alone is worth cloning on a million blogs. Hey, Dean, thanks for coming up with this crystalline summary of exactly how 90% of us feel. When Pakatan Rakyat takes over, I'll propose that you be offered PR - that is, if you still want it!


The BNality of evil
Dean Johns | Malaysiakini | 27 May 2009

On this glorious autumn morning in Sydney, an absolute cliché of a perfect day, the air as clear as crystal and the sky a stunning blue.

By rights I should be revelling in the feeling that it’s great just to be alive. And I guess I am, in a physical sense.

But emotionally it’s another matter entirely, as with this column to write, I sit here cheerlessly confronting the cold eye of my computer screen and its mindlessly blinking cursor, struggling to strike a spark of inspiration from an uncooperative keyboard.

But I can hardly blame an innocent computer for the contrast between the brilliance of the day and the bleakness of my mood. In fact the fault is entirely my own.

Somehow I’m constitutionally incapable of the feeling that ‘God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world’ when the same alleged God that some imagine created this heavenly day perversely permits such hellish situations in so many other parts of the world.


Sometimes it seems that evil lurks almost everywhere on earth


There seems no end to the pain and suffering and death that it causes, and no sign that any amount of intervention, divine or otherwise, will ever diminish it, let alone bring it to an end.

And for those of us who are driven to write or fight against it, it has an extra and especially excruciating dimension: it’s incredibly, endlessly boring.

The phrase “the banality of evil” is as apt today as it was back when Hannah Arendt coined it to describe the personality of Nazi genocide organiser Adolf Eichmann.

Eichmann, she claimed, committed his atrocities not out of hatred for his victims, but out of a lack of imagination so total as to deprive him of any shred of empathy for fellow human beings.

I don’t believe that all of today’s major-league evil-doers are as motiveless as Eichmann, but they’re every bit as callous, banal and ultimately boring as he was in their insatiable cravings for power and feelings of self-importance.

Surely the most vivid embodiment of the banality of evil in the world today must be Kim Jong-Il (right) of North Korea. A man, like his father before him, who has enslaved and starved his people in his demented quest to maintain a million-strong army and build a nuclear weapon for the single, pathetic purpose of expressing his paranoid egomania.

Then there’s Robert Mugabe (left), driven by a hatred for whites that Eichmann, according to Arendt, lacked for the Jews he slaughtered, but every bit as empty as Eichmann of any capacity for sympathy or empathy with anyone but himself and the supporters he needs to survive.

And he is as boring as every other tinpot dictator I can think of in his greed for such banalities as grand mansions, branded merchandise and shopping sprees for his stupid wife.

The leaders of Iran are another case in point, still tediously employing timeless sectarian hatred and insane religious extremism in the pursuit of sordid, mundane cravings for some shred of self-esteem.

And so it goes around the globe, such an endless parade of banality and evil as to disgrace the human race and bore us columnists - and our unfortunate readers - to tears.

Beyond banality

Of course the most crying shame of all to me, because I happen to read and write about it so much, is the chronically tedious situation in Malaysia. After more than half a century of monopolisation by Barisan Nasional (BN), the situation has gone way beyond banality to utter BNality, and seems to get more evil by the day.

The whole country is held to ransom by a bunch of people so BNal that all they can muster in the way of a slogan for a nation they’ve so strenuously kept divided all these years is a ludicrous lie like ‘1Malaysia.’

And all these so-called leaders seem to care about are BNalities like money, ridiculous titles, luxury cars, big houses, offshore holiday retreats and overseas junkets for themselves and their families.

The BNality of evil; the evil of BNality. Have you ever heard or read an utterance by a BN politician that wasn’t so dim, dull or such a litany of obfuscation and outright lies that it was anything but stupefyingly boring?

And no, fans of Dr Mahathir Mohamad (right) needn’t claim that their hero is an exception, as his every utterance is drearily, predictably false and sarcastic, and thus not a whit witty.

BNality of speech is, of course, just a symptom of BNality of thought. And just as I’ve never heard an even remotely interesting remark from a BN politician or official, nor have I seen evidence of a single creative idea.

There’s been no shortage of projects, I grant you. Like the Twin Towers, for example, which have proven a big tourist attraction. But they were built by Japanese and Korean contractors using mostly Indonesian labour, and when it came to the BNality of who paid the bill, the evil fact is that the Malaysian people did, through Petronas accounts so compromised that they’re an official state secret.

So, as with every project on which the BN government spends public funds, there’s no accounting for how much loot was siphoned-off in kickbacks, ‘commissions’, fraud and embezzlement. Just as there’s no way of telling which individuals and corporations evade tax by paying bribes in return for deep discounts.


But the greatest cost of all this venality isn’t financial, it’s social. For evil of such BNality to prosper and perpepuate itself, the populace has to be deprived of such safeguards as a proper police force, honest judiciary, trustworthy media, enlightened education system and independent civil services.

Deprivations that lead in turn to rampant corruption, uncontrolled crime, ceaseless suspicious deaths in custody, growing risk of arrest and detention without charge, heavily-skewed elections and, as recently experienced by the DAP, police harrassment of opposition politicians and supporters.

As I write this, people are being arrested in Ipoh for participating in a hunger strike to protest the recent power-grab in Perak. So at least I haven’t entirely wasted this beautiful day by spending it at the keyboard.



As long as courageous activists keep on fighting and we critics keep on typing, someday the majority of Malaysians will finally revolt against the intolerable reality - not to mention the flagrant immorality and growing illegality - of BN evil and banality.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dean Johns ROCKS!!!

kiambang said...

You have written on someone's else interpretation. You come as a spectator to Malaysian Life... like watching soccer match from the bench, you shout the players are fools, the stricker is dumbo, the goalie like lamp post, the referee..ahh.. the referee is worst of all...biased, corrupted, bought!. But all's forgotten if the team you support won the finishing goal! But if your team loses, then a more dramatic scenario will be painted, with pictures of unfairness, bribe, stupidity, etc etc etc. Blow it up, give more colors, add pain to the pictures. What right do you have? Try to kick a ball if you can, do you score a goal. Try running up and down the playing field can you avoid opponents tackle? If you go for selection of players, do you think you'll be selected as a player? were you not the one who shouted ur head off as if you can do better? who are you?

In Malaysia, What you have done is spread more lies... the effect is more frustration, more chaos, and destruction. Ultimately that's your goal becos your believe system is anything stable is not right, so therefore let's "wrong" it.. let there be chaos - that means there's freedom of expression,people are being heard! let's uphold democracy you say, let's stir the shit and throw around, Malaysian deserve it ! Hey bro... there's two sides of a coin man...

us your ability to write objectively instead of adding poison to your readers. Your writing is biased and if you are SICK and pls don't spread your virus around!!!

amirrash said...

as i am a malay nmalaysian i will write in malay. learn malay will you.

satu lagi cerita sedih dari pandangan mata seorang mat salleh yang telah dibuang/dicampak dari tanah melayu. "Tuan" yang kecewa dengan pengusiran dari malaysia. ini lah dia pandangan bekas penjajah. Kecewa dan tertekan. apa yang boleh sangat diharap dari seorang mat salleh? kesian.

Antares said...

Kiambang & Amirrash - I appreciate your attempts to express disagreement with & disapproval of the sentiments epressed in Dean Johns's lucid & entirely truthful essay. Your only criticism is that the man is an orang assing - an outsider, downsider & probably another backsider like Anwar! For your information, the truth is always "biased" - biased in favor of the ones who have been oppressed & ridden roughshod over. This is because the oppressors can AFFORD to hire expensive spin-doctors & buy media space to bombard us with their evil & corrupt propaganda. That's why the world - not just Malaysia - cherishes brilliant & talented people like Johns (who once served the Dark Lords of Advertising) for being intolerant of mediocrity, stupidity & banality packaged in bad breath, bad manners & bad attitudes - flavored with cruelty & injustice. ALL TYRANNY IS BANAL - I mean BNAL! AND SO ARE THEIR ZOMBIFIED APOLOGISTS & SUPPORTERS. Sorry lah, bro, you & I may someday discover we have more in common than our political differences - but right now it's a goddam civil war that's raging in this country & we intend to win it, so here's a long sharp word... OBFUSCATORY... I suggest you take it & castrate yourself forthwith so the nation will be burdened with fewer descendants of pirates.

Amirrash, buanglah tempurung kau. Berak, kencing, kentut dalam penjara mental siang dan malam, seronok bernafas ke?

Antares said...

P.S. A reminder to all Umno/BN types who may be tempted to cast further aspersions on Dean Johns's qualifications as a sociopolitical commentator & essayist extraordinaire on the grounds that he happens to be "Mat Salleh" (drunken white-skinned furriner): I'm not sure if Macedonians would be classified as "Mat Salleh" but they are definitely neither Orang Asia nor "Melayu" (whatever THAT means). Anyhow, don't forget some of your Sultans claim descent from Iskandar Shah (Alexander the Great, an impossibly ambitious Macedonian & bisexual to boot!) - how come you're keeping quiet about this great travesty & insult to the competence of the pirate-trader-aboriginal bloodlines the rest of you supposedly emerged from? 500 years ago you had to import your royal stock from the West & even your belief system comes from Arabia. How orangcinal... I mean original... is THAT???

Anonymous said...

amirrash: if you really must be a kampung hero, then lock yourself away, cut off all contact with the world & live in isolation like the lord & master earth prince that UMNO has brain washed you.

Dalam Bahasa MALAYSIA jikalau jaguh kampung tidak faham bahasa antarabangsa Inggeris:

Kalau anda ingin sangat jadi jaguh kampung, pergi main jauh jauh, potongkan hubungan anda dengan dunia sekeliling dan hidup sebagai katak bawah tempurung, menjadi tuan & raja bumiputera sepertimana ideologi ketuanan yang UMNO pertikaikan selama ini.

Gadfly said...

Hannah Arendt was struck by Eichmann's "thoughlessness" or "absence of thinking" in his trial.

What would make someone 'no brain"? The culture of "I am just following orders from ATAS" or to use "Cliches, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct.."(Hannah Arendt's phrase) to shield themselves from reailty or responsibility. This makes evil banal - no inner reflection, no reflexive thoughts but only reflex action.

The other symptom of 'thoughtlessness' is to judge a message by who is the messenger - what skin-colour, which land they come from and who comes firtst - and not from the validity of the message itself. Unfortunately, it is the rakyat who get the worst penalty because of such banality.

Anonymous said...

Another disgracefull conduct by another Malaysia Police Senior Officer. Very shamefull, Over jealous, This is Najib's 1Malaysia
I pray that Lightning will stike him.

Mike said...

The biggest problem with most Malaysian Muslims is that they do not know the truth of/in Islam. They are veiled from the Truth by the Lord Almighty (refer Yaasin verse<10) and therefore exists people like kambiangs and amirashes in our society. Some of these people may appear very pious too but are actually in the dark. The Penjajah destroyed their religion by taking away their Sufi leaders and substituted by ulamaks hovering on the fringes of Islam at best.

At somewhere 3.50 in the tube above, observe the police officer with the hailer giving 3 Minutes to disperse but ordered them to be "tangkap"ed at the count of 3.

Kambiang and amirrash, wud you try to justify that the said police officer acted professionally? Mind you, he is not just a constable.

Self Justification is Worse than the Original Offence.

Anonymous said...

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Wintermute.