Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Nut Graph cured my political hangover

I'm recovering from a political hangover. The Bagan Pinang by-election was indeed a crucial watershed. The outcome would be a fair indication of how soon Raja Petra Kamarudin would be able to return to his beloved homeland as a free man.

Not so soon, I'm afraid, if Isa Abdul Samad's impressive win is anything to go by.

In the past couple of days I've been reading almost every analysis of Pakatan Rakyat's abysmal defeat at Bagan Pinang in an attempt to understand what's really going on at this juncture.

As usual, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah makes all the right noises. But why does he continue to sit on his lonely rock spouting Yoda-like aphorisms and hoping to see Umno redeem itself? And why should Umno even bother, so long as the Indian vote can be bought with just a packet of muruku flour, one kilo of Milo, and a glittering saree?

And what about the Chinese vote? Whip out the carrot of more ugly concrete structures, more contracts for contractors and developers; for good measure show them the stick of Islamic fanaticism à la Hasan Ali and PAS Youth, and they'll be weighing their fortunes on the dacing as they have done so for decades. At least with Barisan Najis you know you can buy your way out of anything, including murder.

My unfounded optimism about a PAS win at Bagan Pinang proves I'm not exactly savvy about the nitty-gritty of post-GE12 Malaysian politics. Admittedly, I've been buoyed up by a nostalgic yearning for the euphoria of 9 March 2008 when the sky seemed so much bluer and the sun shone upon the first green shoots of a bona fide Bangsa Malaysia - living in a genuine democracy, free from institutionalized prejudice and moral rot.

The Nut Graph is rarely my first option when browsing for local news. I know this alternative online journal run by former Star journo Jacqueline Ann Surin has worked hard over the past year or so to carve its own niche in the burgeoning online media scene. Just as it was reaching its goal, it ran out of funding and is now surviving on donations. I suppose I was initially put off by its highfalutin name and self-conscious political correctness. But over time I have found myself thoroughly impressed by The Nut Graph's accomplishments in terms of the generally high quality of writing and visual presentation.

This impression has been further reinforced by Shanon Shah's excellent coverage of the Bagan Pinang by-election which I had missed earlier, in the heat of the excitement. Here's an excerpt from an insightful story he filed on 7 October:

Zulkefly Omar’s dilemma
7 Oct 09 : 8.00AM

By Shanon Shah

The Nut Graph asks Zulkefly what his stand is on concert banning, as called for by central PAS Youth against both Danish soft-rock band Michael Learns to Rock and US R&B diva Beyonce Knowles. He declines comment. What is his stand on the open sale of alcohol? No comment. What is his position on the whipping sentence dropped on Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor? No comment. He says, "Ask me questions about the campaign, please."

But these are not curly questions. These are questions on issues of public policy. Yet, Zulkefly declines, albeit politely and sweetly. And when he addresses the multiracial crowd at the DAP operations centre in Batu 9 on 5 Oct, it is clear to see why Zulkefly is so cautious. "A vote for PAS is a vote for the PR and its vision," he says in earnest.

And so this must be Zulkefly's dilemma in Bagan Pinang. How will he sell himself to multiracial and multireligious voters while making sure PAS's Islamist skeletons do not come jumping out of his campaign closet?

And here's another superb piece by Shanon Shah filed on 11 October:

A bizarre week in Bagan Pinang (no excerpt - just click on the link and read it at source!)

I'm sure you'll agree that the sort of quality journalism The Nut Graph has achieved is worthy of our encouragement and support. When I feel a little more flush I'm going to send them some cash so they can keep going. I hope those of you in a better financial position will ensure that The Nut Graph survives. It gives us a glimpse of what the future promises.

All images courtesy of The Nut Graph


Aggrophobia said...

Yes, it's all very sad. How do we maintain ethics in this hedonistic, totally self-centred culture. At least the Islamists are putting something else before themselves and self-interest. So you may have to sacrifice Black Eyed Peas and Beyonce but at least you'll get high-principled corruption-free govt. But who wants this delusive, big corporation entertainment anyway?

KoSong Cafe said...

It is business as usual and money still talks. Some cash in the pocket is better than two politically correct principles.

The way the BN ministers and candidate unashamedly campaigned in the military camps would have brought in the majority of 3,000 postal votes. The rest from the public as you have mentioned. The cow head incident did not matter or was quickly forgotten. It is hard to believe as what some have reasoned that it was due to Hassan Ali factor as NS is not governed by Pakatan.

Anonymous said...

Hi Antares

There is a saying in the U.S. that "All politics is local".

This is especially so when it is
a contest for a state assembly seat.

It's probably more productive to analyse why Isa won the vote of
fence sitters and potential PR supporters instead. Why is his populism so effective?

Why did the exploited and oppressed Indian people from the ladangs vote for him and the regime that keeps them poor and oppressed? Ignorance? (inform them!) Intimidation? Fear? Fear of losing their livelihood? Effective propaganda from the Indian
allies of the thieving regime?

Remember the famous saying
"Know thy enemy, know thyself. A thousand battles, a thousand victories!"

Phua Kai Lit

Phua Kai Lit

Anonymous said...

Dear Antares,

What a moving piece you have offered to us here and the cry from the depths of your spirit and soul resonates with mine. You have succinctly and passionately summed up the malignant situation that we face today...except that the cure seems to be pretty much in the distance.

On a different note, I do share your view re The Nut Graph, I enjoy the classy, insightful and sometimes eloquent posts there and lament their lack of funding to expand the site to achieve the growth that it so deserves.

Jacqueline Ann Surin hails from Penang and I have seen her develop as a young schoolgirl to her stint with The Star and now The Nut Graph.

Thanks for giving the site the recognition that it deserves.

Take care, have a good week and lovely touching base with you just now.


Hamba said...

You're human after all! What is a human without HOPE! Hope spring eternal and maybe one day, one fine day our hope will come true. But until then, we will remain human and hope for a brighter future without UMNO and BN!

Anonymous said...

BP was BN's for umpteen years , its man died so another be it ali, aminah
even omar or riduan oso can win ....
NO big deal !

Anonymous said...



Loken PaL-aNi-SaM-y said...


wizsurf malaysia said...

The post euphoria of 8 March 2008 has landed with a crash , as indeed one could tell with the way high profile murderers get away scotsfree and the found corrupt ( or something like that ) just gives a little shrug and continues his evil ways witout a care.

Our country has had no proper foundation as you should now realise. As an incorrigle 1Islamic Country , its a dead duck and there's nothing you can do about it ...as we are all finding out a little bit late now . Pas ? Nut graph ? Teoh Beng Hock ? PKFZ ?

But that doesn't mean you should stop writing. though it does look futile as of now.

hedo said...

I think PR lost because you fellas forgot to pray to your god an ask him to spread his magic powers into bagan pinang ler...


Anonymous said...

I've been having a bad dream that 1995 and 2004 will be repeated. After that, we have no choice but to be either pro-BN or unpatriotic. If the PR don't buck up, I may choose the 'mo lai mao' second option, being unpatriotic. Cheers from Dennis.