Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Arrogance and the Art of Political Shadow Boxing (revisited)

This post was inspired by a journalist friend who left the following comment on my Facebook wall: "I've met [Anwar Ibrahim] in person and he looked right through me, although I had to personally escort him. He makes my skin crawl. A couple of reporters I know who have interviewed him also say that this kind of arrogance was pretty normal even when he was DPM." Anwar had just been acquitted when I posted this in January 2012. Then AG Abdul Gani Patail immediately appealed the verdict, to the disgust of those who can't imagine ever being so viciously vindictive and venomous.

At 19 I met a fortune teller who read my palms and told me I will never have a boss. And that has held true my entire life. I don't regard anybody or any spirit as my "superior."

All political leaders, including Anwar Ibrahim, must ultimately bow to the rakyat as their boss. Others may bow before some concept of God or Devil. I don't.

In effect, other people's arrogance is just a joke to me. Arrogance, I know, is only a front - a form of ego armoring required for warfare. Just as Muhammad Ali used arrogance and conceit as a psychological weapon to inject apprehension and anxiety into his opponents, every successful politician learns to talk big and scare his adversaries. In the animal kingdom, puffer fish and peacocks inflate various parts of their anatomy to scare off rivals and attract potential mates.

Anwar Ibrahim addresses a rapt audience at Kelana Jaya Stadium (photo: TV Smith)

Anwar is good at that - and he is used to being in the limelight. Every rockstar knows what it's like to have thousands clamoring for you to appear on stage - it's addictive and scary at the same time. It takes a special kind of temperament to thrive under those high-pressure circumstances. Anwar has got it in abundance - he has trained himself all his life to become a political icon.

Have you ever had to escort Mahathir or Najib anywhere? Would they have looked right through you too... or looked straight into your eyes and noticed what a beautiful human being you are and suggested you add them on Facebook? The point I'm making is simply this: in a primitive culture where politics holds sway and policemen obey only those they deem their superiors, we desperately require regime change.

Anas Zubedy,
corporate wunderkind
If you remove Anwar Ibrahim from the equation at this juncture, what you're asking for is that the status quo remain unchanged. Look at the ego conflicts amongst activists and opinion makers - people like Haris Ibrahim, Ambiga Sreenevasan, Lim Chee Wee, Art Harun, Azmi Sharom, Malik Imtiaz... and let's toss in a few from the murky side, like RPK, Anas Zubedy, Chandra Muzaffar, Ezam Mohd Nor. Do you honestly think the ship of state will sail smoothly on course if it was left to a committee of debaters, public masturbators and would-be emancipators?

Until there are enough enlightened souls in our midst - ones who have internalized God and no longer regard external authority as real or legitimate - we will need some sort of political structure. And the best one I have seen thus far is the Pakatan Rakyat coalition led by Anwar Ibrahim.

I'm seriously tired of apparently intelligent people putting the brakes on the change by misapplyng their skepticism at what is, to me, a critical juncture in our political evolution. So, who do you wish to see in Anwar's place? I'm really interested to know....

[First published 18 January 2012, reposted 22 October 2012]


masterymistery said...

I think it's better to assess the policies and track record of a politician, rather than the physical appearance or even personal life.

The "personal life" filter is tricky though. I think politicians are entitled to as much or as little privacy as the average person. Some aspects of personal life, eg sexuality, have no bearing upon the person's abilities as a politician. Other aspects of personal life, eg whether the person has committed any crimes, clearly do have a bearing on the person's abilities to be an effective politician.

Some would argue that it's a choice: ie that if you choose to go into politics, you are also choosing to give up your privacy.

Cheers, MM

Starmandala said...

David Icke put his finger on it when he said that it's virtually impossible to convince most humans that the world around them is essentially holographic, a dance of electromagnetic fields programmed by an extradimensional intelligence or intelligences the way a puppetmaster presents a puppet show. A masterful performer can make the audience forget that none of it is real, just a drama - or melodrama. So we have politics and politicians and more dramas and melodramas, more movies. Since I woke up finding myself in a cineplex, I've made attempts to walk out but have thus far been unable to escape for too long before some well-meaning person recaptures me and reinserts me in the Matrix. Since I'm stuck here for a while longer - and there are tasty snacks within easy reach - I'll relax and enjoy the show. But I want to have some say in what movies get shown around here.

Unknown said...

Dear Antares

I always enjoy your writings and detailed discourses be it in the political realm or in the dynamic world of performing arts.

While many are busy shooting arrows at each other, few realize that the perpetuation of dynasties or so-called icons has ensured that no leader of high calibre has been trained or prepared to take over.

The remaining ones are in a keen race to the finish to see who can survive.

The fact that few in the various parties have dared to question the situation is possibly evidence that few are brave enough to rock the boat for the betterment of the nation.

So, while the gap grows bigger, more grow blinder as the days go by...without realizing that many have fallen prey to subtle propaganda.


Take care and have a restful evening.

Big hugs

Taikohtai said...

Mate, mind if give us your prediction on the next GE?
I know AK47 did it but it's kinda of salty, know what I mean? But I hope he's right :)
You're probably more 'neutral' being more partisan and buddy2 with other bloggers. So lets hear it, yes?

Starmandala said...

@masterwordsmith - I'm not sure what you're driving at, though it comes across as though you're lamenting the tendency of humans to bequeath some sort of legacy to their children. Personally, it doesn't bother me to see Lim Guan Eng follow in his father's footsteps, or Gobind Deo Singh in his father's. Nor am I disturbed by the fact that PKR is almost a family party involving, father, mother and daughter.

However, it irritates the hell out of me to see Mahathir Mohamad trying to push his idiot son Mukhriz into power. Not because Mukhriz is his father's son - but simply because I can't stand Mahathir and would celebrate an end to his toxic brand of politics and his empty, materialistic Vision 2020.

So let's be clear about this: there is nothing intrinsically wrong with children inheriting a busyness or political position from their parents - so long as they are capable and will do as well, if not better. Indeed, this is perfectly natural a phenomenon since some qualities do get passed down the genetic line.

Even more often, children of famous people will achieve fame on their own terms in a totally different field - but just as often, they get eclipsed by their father's celebrity and end up struggling with an identity crisis.

I have absolutely no problem with the idea of politicians I like and admire - Kit Siang, Anwar, Karpal, to name a few - passing their legacies on to the next generation, so long as their children are equally, if not more, admirable. In the case of all three, I'm pleased that all their progeny have turned out remarkably capable and electable. Can't say the same for Mahathir's kids.

In the case of Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong - I hesitate to condemn them, but I am certainly no great fan of that wily old Confucian and God of No Mercy. Let's just say our values and perspectives are diametrically opposed. The reason I hesitate to say anything harsh about them is that, despite my distaste for their materialistic worldview, they seem to have done a pretty good job managing that tiny island republic, so why should I get wound up about them? All I have to do is avoid going to Singapore, that's all!

@Taikohtai - I don't spend much time hobnobbing with people in coffeeshops and gossiping, so I can't say I have my finger on the pulse. For a few years I believed that RPK has his finger on the pulse, but it turns out I was quite mistaken. I had already suspected that he might be in close contact with Dr M who was among the main sponsors of Malaysia Today. That alone is enough for me to distrust anybody!

In other words, I am no political pundit and your guess is as good as mine. However, I do have a simple desire which I'm sure I share with millions - that's right, I would like to see BN lose so badly it will take them at least 10 years to recuperate... by which time, I reckon politics and economics will no longer be significant issues, and politicians will be irrelevant. The world I envisage is radically different from the present Matrix where everybody is programmed to ACQUIRE & PROTECT - which creates a competitive atmosphere. The new world will favor those who can ATTUNE & HARMONIZE - which facilitates cooperation, symbiosis, and synergy.

Unknown said...

Dear Antares

:-) I was not lamenting about how some parents hope their children can walk in their footsteps...I do it myself in terms of reading habits or in the field of music. In fact, I agree with your astute observations.

However, I am concerned that in almost every political party from both sides of the divide, we see leaders who have hogging the scene for decades and the absence/missing gap of the next echelon of leadership in terms of budding young leaders.

I feel it is very important for those in the upper echelons (not just the chairman/president but the whole team) to identify and groom the next group of leaders to take over.

You asked a very pertinent question at the end of this post: So, who do you wish to see in Anwar's place? I'm really interested to know.... which triggered my response.

And my answer to your question is - there is none I can see or even dream of.

Which is a very worrying situation because in life, nothing is certain. When Anwar was jailed, his dear wife took over and when Anwar was released in 2008, she stepped down making way for a by-election in Permatang Pauh which Anwar won by a landslide. Consequently, she was banned from contesting in any parliamentary seat for five years.

To me, it is really a very worrying situation....

And the PR had better start grooming leaders. That's my main concern.


Starmandala said...

@mws - Projecting into the future is a fruitless exercise, even if humans have been programmed to do exactly that for millennia. Anwar isn't the PM yet nor is Pakatan Rakyat the federal government - so why waste breath debating who might succeed Anwar?

The way I see it, BN is akin to a massive tumor and Malaysia is in an advanced stage of cancer - cancer of the heart, mind and soul! Only if the tumor can be surgically removed or neutralized with high-frequency waves will Malaysia have a chance of continuing its evolution. BN is linked with the feudal mindset and top-heavy Orang Besar politics. That's why it's called an ultra- rightwing party. What "ultyra-rightwing" means is a rigid pyramidal social hierarchy wherein the greatest number elevate and support the tiniest elite which assumes untouchable godlike status, like sultans and Umno ministers.

For centuries this has been the scenario - lots of frightened, groveling little people kowtowing to and enriching the high and mighty few. In such a sociopolitical milieu, everyone is always looking for a messianic leader - a Moses, Jesus or Muhammad - to lead them to the Promised Land.

We have to quickly outgrow this puerile mindset and mature into a populace that no longer looks up to emblems of external authority. What we must aspire to attain is a system of administration that no longer deifies the Top Brass or Head Honcho. It would be wonderful if nobody knows what the prime minister's name is - I mean, do you bother asking the taxi or bus driver his or her name (usually not, unless you wish to report some misconduct)? When you check into a hotel, do you first enquire who the manager is? Of course not. You only bother to ask if you have a serious complaint to lodge.

That's how I envisage the immediate political future. We need a few years unshackled by BN's medieval mindset so that we can ensure that the machinery of governance no longer oppresses the citizenry and unfairly advantages the elite. If a prince is caught shoplifting, he gets hauled up to court and pays the fine. If he beats up somebody when he's drunk, he gets thrown in jail. Simple as that.

So... does it really matter who succeeds Anwar as PM? I see so many young faces in the ranks of Pakatan Rakyat in whom I have full confidence - to name just a few, Nurul Izzah, Hannah Yeoh, Tian Chua, Saifuddin Nasution, Rafizi Ramli, Sivarasa Rasiah, Faekah Husin, Husam Musa, Mat Sabu, Fuziah Salleh, Nizar Jamaluddin, Teresa Kok, Teo Nie Ching, even Azmin Ali (despite all the bad press he gets, I don't see him in a bad light at all). You mean none of these new generation leaders qualifies? You gotta be kidding! :-)