Wednesday, April 18, 2012

THE MANY HUES OF MALAYSIAN POLITICS (REVISITED)


GREEN is for the Islamic Party, PAS, whose politics are founded on religion. A dangerous mix indeed. Politics concern the outer world and religion the inner. Ideally the inner and outer ought to be aligned and in dynamic balance. But who determines the parameters of inner space, the dimensions of belief and faith? A panel of ulamas (spiritual leaders)?


There have been many theocratic nations that have lasted hundreds, even thousands of years. Ancient Egypt flourished for millennia and it was a civilization built around the concept of the Pharaoh as a divine manifestation. Tibet was for centuries essentially a lamacracy ruled by lamas with the Dalai Lama as titular head. Constantine and, later Charlemagne, tried to establish a Holy Roman Empire with Roman Catholicism at its core. Salah ad-Dīn Yusuf ibn Ayyub aka Saladin had the same vision of conquering the world for Islam. America under the Neocons may be said to have been the reincarnation and modern manifestation of a 4,000-year-old dream of a Unified Judeo-Christian World.

RED & WHITE represent courage and purity, and it's probable that the Democratic Action Party (DAP) chose these colors as a nod to its early ideological links with Lee Kuan Yew's People's Action Party (PAP).

RED is also the color most frequently associated with Communism and Socialism as it's a martial color symbolizing passion, heroism, and victory and prosperity through sacrifice and struggle. The Chinese national flag is RED. Singapore's is RED & WHITE. So are the Canadian and Swiss flags - though the Canadians and Swiss are hardly into socialism in a big way.

Nor is UMNO whose official colors, interestingly, also happen to be red and white - making it an energetic match for the DAP. However, the UMNO logo is in blood red, indicative of strong racialism and an atavistic propensity to resolve disputes through brute force.


DARK BLUE is the color of Barisan Nasional and policemen's pants. Nobody (except perhaps a policewoman in heat) likes to be forced to look at policemen's pants closeup.

BN achieved a measure of popular support for many decades by putting the "development" agenda at the forefront at a time when people were eager to embrace modernity and prosper. Alas, internal weaknesses - mainly unfettered corruption, blatant cronyism and nepotism, and heavy-handed abuse of power - brought the ruling party into disrepute and it was shown the massive disfavor of voters in the last general election.

Panicked by the imminent prospect of losing power after more than 50 years, BN swung violently to the right by muscling the utterly corrupt Najib Razak into the post of crime minister.

Clinging desperately to the status quo through flat-footed police intimidation and high-priced image consultants, BN's dark blue banner with the archaic scale symbol has come to represent endless despair to young Malaysians who dream of a harmonious, joyful and wealthy nation managed by brilliant and talented individuals untainted by generations in power. However, almost all the brilliant and talented ones have long left BN or were never part of the defective and deficient government.


SKY BLUEWHITE & RED constitute the colors of Parti KeADILan Rakyat (PKR). The contrast between the light pastel blue of PKR and the dark blue of BN is like the difference between the clear sky of freedom - and the interior of a policeman's pants.


The blue and green fields of PKR and PAS appear to complement each other reasonably well. But red and green are either complementary or conflicting colors, hence the friction and frequent tensions that arise between the secular DAP and the religious PAS.


Now if the red and green polarities could learn to appreciate the workings of the chromatic spectrum, they would quickly discover that their differences are merely superficial. No deeper than the skin and tattoos of cultural imprints, really.


I never get tired of seeing photos of PAS spiritual leader Tuan Guru Nik Aziz and DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang sitting together at ceramahs. Ever since the Permatang Pauh by-election in August 2008 these two seem to have become firm friends. The Fearless General and the Foxy Ustaz: what a formidable partnership they form when they work together, united by a common dream we all share...


The dream of a glorious New Dawn for Malaysia where all the colors of Pakatan Rakyat combine to form a perfect picture of loving abundance for everyone under the sun. PAS can be the moral foundation, representing the aspirations of the grassroots and the humble folk who live close to the earth. PKR, a party founded on social justice - and the rejection of cruelty, inhumanity and injustice - can ensure that democratic rights and universal principles of freedom and truth are well defended against the power-hungry. And DAP, with its ambition to see the nation's wealth fairly distributed and wisely managed, will be the engine that thrusts Malaysia boldly into the future.


So hang in there, folks! Don't get up and leave just because the band hit a couple of wrong notes. The REAL party hasn't even begun...


[First published 3 July 2009]



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