Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Do we really want to march to Putrajaya? (reprise)

Heart-shaped cloud over Putrajaya. Was it Photoshopped? (Pic by Saeed Salem)

I've been to Putrajaya total of three times. The first time out of sheer diabolical curiosity. I was on the highway and spotted the Putrajaya exit; decided to make a brief detour just to see for myself what the hoo-ha was about. I parked in front of the PM's office and noticed the Egyptian-style obelisk outside his window. I couldn't believe the rococo lampposts and idly wondered how many there were and how much each cost (after mark-up).

The place was utterly soulless. A monumentally overpriced concrete fa├žade. Like a colossal movie set for very boring and unimaginative epics involving millions of demure concubines and uncomplaining slaves. Only an evil emperor with massive delusions of grandeur (or terminal ego insecurity) could have conceived such an anachronistic monstrosity - and the man who launched the Putrajaya project was indeed an evil emperor wannabe, albeit of pathetically mediocre caliber. Unsurprisingly he left us with a cumbersome and morally diseased mediocracy to dismantle.

The second visit was with my ethnic fusion group Akar Umbi. We were invited for a gig in Putrajaya in conjunction with something or other. We even overnighted in a local hotel there. Luckily, the presence of giggling Orang Asli neutralized the robot city vibes of Putrajaya. It wasn't too bad an experience and we even got paid for our efforts.

Last week I went to Putrajaya to assist my friends with their application for a visa extension. Our visit to the Immigration Department turned out to be rather surreal and decidedly unpleasant. My friends were only given two weeks when they re-entered Malaysia after a trip to Singapore. However, the immigration officer at Tuas reassured them they could apply for an extension at the nearest immigration office and led them to believe it was a routine procedure.

Well, it was hardly routine. We were made to wait nearly 5 hours, only to be told the application for an extension was rejected. No reason given. But judging by the smug unfriendly tone in which the betempurunged and betudunged immigration officer pronounced that my friends had to leave the country, it was only too clear that our immigration policy discriminates against citizens of certain countries, in this case, China. If we had been treated with courtesy and not made to wait fruitlessly for hours, not getting an extension would have been much easier to accept.

The cold unhelpful treatment we received at the Jabatan Imigresen in Putrajaya merely confirmed what all of us have known all along: that BN slogans like "Performance Now" and "People First" are just a huge load of Najis (absolute crap, for the uninitiated).

Ironically, my friends had been seriously considering investing in Malaysia and making it their second home. Now I'm not so sure they would want to live in a such a rabidly and crudely racist country - even though all the Malaysians they have encountered - outside Putrajaya - have been very friendly and hospitable.

This foul-tasting encounter with post-Mahathir bureaucracy has prompted me to question the wisdom of wanting to take over Putrajaya - an architectural abomination which carries the reek of an accursed kingdom, something only a reptilian warlord like Sauron could relish.

Every structure in Putrajaya is designed to dwarf and diminish the common man and exalt the abstract notion of financial and political clout. It flatters the megalomaniacal ego and sneers at the whole idea of the soul. The architecture of Putrajaya insults all notions of human warmth and peremptorily dismisses the idea of democracy. Instead, we are browbeaten into submission to whomsoever operates the machinery of government from within those imposing stone fortresses.

If Pakatan Rakyat succeeds against all odds at vanquishing the Barisan Najis, the new federal government ought to seriously reconsider moving into Putrajaya. I'm convinced that just occupying those cold unfeeling premises will swiftly turn the newly elected government into an ugly replica of the old guard. Very bad fengshui, in other words.

Hard to imagine putting on the clothes of a moral leper - and not getting infected almost immediately.

Putrajaya is the concrete and glass manifestation of Mahathir's megalomania - which is really no different than that of Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini. In an earlier age, Mahathir could have been Atilla the Hun or Genghis Khan. These would-be world-conquerors are essentially cut from the same crude cloth. They have no time for the simple and the wholesome. They curl their lips and snarl in contempt at those who show compassion, forgiveness and mercy. They are prepared to do whatever it takes to seize earthly power and hold on to it with a vice-like grip. Their egos crave abject adoration from their disciples and followers - a sure sign that these personality types are descended from fallen angels and false gods.

Only false gods enjoy being feared by those who worship and unquestioningly serve them. The corrupt Umno priesthood established by Mahathir to serve his unholy ambition are the ones who typically work in ideological think-tanks and indoctrination agencies like Biro Tatanegara (National Civics Bureau). Just as Hitler's Third Reich was founded on a perverted sense of racial pride and prejudice, Mahathir built on Abdul Razak Hussein's Ketuanan Melayu agenda and infected two generations of Umno Malays with the dangerously divisive notion of racial supremacy.

Imitation of false gods is what prompts potentates to construct monuments and palaces to their own vainglory. In Malay the word raja (king) constitutes the root of the word for government - kerajaan. This suggests that government officials represent the rulers.

Instead of serving the public, the bureaucracy believes its primary purpose is to serve the symbols of Malay power, the sultans. That's only in theory, of course. In practice, most bureaucrats are programmed to serve their political masters, while helping themselves to the goodies at every opportunity. The upshot of this unhealthy practice is that we invariably end up with a rusty can of overfed maggots in public office and greedy, grasping, dragons of debauchery in the palaces.

Which means the common people, the rakyat, don't really feature at all in the power equation - except as a source of revenue and labor. This may have been the prevailing pattern in which power has been misused for millennia - but this sort of top-down hierarchy is no longer viable and should have become extinct along with the belief that Time is linear and Space strictly Euclidean..

Oppressive and authoritarian misrule is the primary cause of mediocrity. The docile, obedient, unimaginative and uncreative get promoted to positions of authority while "cultural creatives" - the innovators, mavericks and real talents - get sidelined or persecuted till they go into voluntary exile.

I hope the next government of Malaysia takes very careful note - even though I already know they won't and that they will rapidly become an almost exact replica of the bureaucratic tyranny they once vociferously opposed, proving once again and irrefutably, that those who consider themselves adult should unsubscribe from the notion of external authority (especially in the guise of their own parents, family clans, political parties, Cosplay governments and fictional off-planet deities).

[First posted 23 November 2010]