Saturday, September 5, 2015
FOR 23 YEARS I have dwelled in a physical location that most closely resembles my idea of paradise, At least until the past 5 years, more specifically the past 5 months.
What happened 5 years ago? Let's just say the village got Umnofied and Jakimized. (For those unfamiliar with these terms, Umno is a codename for racial bigotry and jingoism, while Jakim is a state-sponsored agency charged with Talibanizing the entire country).
To me there is nothing sadder than the sound of really bad music. And believe me, these neighbors from hell suffer from the most atrocious musical taste I have ever encountered.
Bad enough the kind of music they like, but the brain-numbing volume at which they habitually play it, totally oblivious of distortion and atrocious pitch, and the hours they are at it - you have to live here to believe it. Last night, for example, the drunken party began very late - or very early - around 3am. At 7am the noise was still going strong. I'm writing this at 3:30pm and the terrible music plays on and on and on, though at a slightly reduced volume (since everyone is presumably awake and there's no satisfaction to be had preventing them from sleep). Well, it's enough to make anyone contemplate migrating.
Have we spoken nicely to the neighbors about the noise pollution? Of course we have, repeatedly. The only response we ever get is an Orcish claim of territorial privilege ("Ini kampung kami, you balik!" This is our village, you go back where you came from!) True, there are many occasions when my nextdoor neighbor Mary or I are driven to such a degree of unmitigated fury we find ourselves yelling at them. "Jangan bising!" (Stop the racket!)
Occasionally the musical torment is augmented by hysterical high-pitched laughter. That's when I find myself shouting, "Monyet!" (Monkeys!) Mary has called the police. They were too lazy to investigate and suggested she lodge a formal report at the station. Mary was convinced the police might decide to arrest her instead - perhaps for insulting local customs or interfering with the Orang Asli's right to free speech.
Incidentally, the noisy neighbor's name is Atan son of Sen - but I bet he signs his name S. Atan. And to think, when I first arrived he was a tiny tot of 12 or 13 running around starkers and looking cute...
Whatever happened to these once shy and gentle forest-dwellers? Blame it on electrification and the seriously stupefying effects of TV. Alcoholism, glue-sniffing, and the suspected abuse of crystal meth doesn't help either.
It's essentially the same loutish expression of territorial privilege and entitlement common to provincial folk unaccustomed to cultural plurality. Apparently this sort of downright obtuseness and utter insensitivity occurs not only in Malaysia but wherever colonies of Muslim migrants are found.
While looking for images of mosque loudspeakers and karaoke machines, I stumbled on a blogpost by a Mumbai resident named Uma ranting about noise pollution from her neighborhood mosque.
Just as my Orang Asli neighbors from hell have made us feel like miserable intolerant killjoys for objecting to their delight in merrymaking and terrible music, those who insist on broadcasting their religious piety through massive loudspeakers must believe they are doing all their neighbors a great favor by invoking upon them Allah's abundant blessings.
Truth is, they are merely exposing themselves as evolutionary throwbacks - completely lacking in the complex neural circuitry without which internal feedback loops cannot develop, making them react to any and all (perceived) criticism with xenophobic aggression and hostility, instead of learning new behaviors and different survival strategies. Unable or unwilling to adapt to changing circumstances, the only foreseeable fate for such sorry specimens of humanity appears to be ultimate extinction.
I'm certainly disinclined to relocate to a different neighborhood on their account... but I just might consider migrating off-planet if the opportunity presents itself.
Jacques the French Terrorist in Kuala Lumpur...
Thursday, September 3, 2015
For generations we have pissed on people with impunity.
Our power was brokered with brute force – it was literally “Off with his head!” whenever anyone dared to openly disagree with or criticize the order of things.
Our authority - more correctly spelt “awe-thority” - issued from our ability to shock and awe the illiterate masses with displays of superior physical and psychic firepower. As Barry Long postulates in his seminal work, The Origins of Man and the Universe (The Myth That Came To Life): the earliest gods consisted of an elite cabal of magicians and sorcerers who activated their third eyes ahead of the pack, learned the use of psychic force by utilizing their brains as holographic projectors, and thus were able to control the collective unconscious of their subjects through mediumistic shamanism and the inculcation of tribal totems and taboos.
We established the first monarchic dynasties and schooled our heirs in the divine right of kings. Our people were implanted with genetically hardwired control mechanisms that took the form of ignorant superstition masquerading as religious faith.
To question the moral behavior of the gods was labeled blasphemy; any word spoken against a king or queen was labeled sedition. Complaints against high-ranking priests, courtiers and ministers were considered defamation.
We outlawed mystical experience and replaced it with solemn ceremony and pompous ritual. Inspired insights and revelations were systematically reduced to dogma and doctrine; turned into an academic priesthood to jealously police the orthodoxy of the status quo.
Over the millennia, we created what young people today recognize as The Matrix – an ingenious machine to harvest the vitality of all living things, generation after generation, to support in grand style the privileges and insatiable appetites of a well-connected white-collar criminal upper class.
But it’s all breaking down now from the sheer weight of its own accumulation of misdeeds and miscreations. The long-enslaved masses have begun to awaken from their cultural trance. They realize that the punitive deity installed in their operating systems to rule them through fear is no more than a scarecrow, a being of straw, literally a stuffed shirt.
All the gods have feet of clay and will never dismount from their pedestals. The institutions created to uphold the edifice of business-as-usual are mostly infested with maggots in human guise – time-serving functionaries of the state, who can see no further than the next paycheck and who dream only of the retirement benefits they have been promised in exchange for loyal, unthinking service.
Long disconnected from their own internal moral compasses, the minions who continue to uphold the hierarchy of conformity and mediocrity may – on rare occasions – experience momentary confusion and doubt.
Does the monotheistic, judgmental, punitive, vengeful god to whom some of us pray actually exist? Or is He just a virulent meme implanted in our tribal memories?
And does He (of course it must be a Heavenly Father, for no order-obeying, rank-saluting storm-trooper would deign to take orders from a mere woman) take offense whenever we think an unwholesome thought, or utter an unsavory word? And will our offspring, if left uncircumcised or unbaptized, be forever barred from paradise?
And if we spend the better part of our time in church or at the mosque gossiping about other people’s sex lives – instead of paying heed to the wisdom of our own inner voices – would that ruin our prospects for a happy afterlife?
We have become compulsive liars and hypocrites to avoid punishment. At some level we know the knack of twisting truth is a survival mechanism that has long outlived its purpose. But do we still remember what it means to be honest and candid - regardless of the consequences, real or imagined?
Can we deny the feeling, long suppressed and buried deep within our subconscious memories, that our entire life has been but a meaningless charade, a colorful and noisy parade that camouflages the endless procession of sorrow and subterfuge our existence has been reduced to?
Behind the glossy façade of our public personas are we proud of and at peace with our true selves? How long can we fool ourselves with our own hype – even if it’s the most expensive grade of hype, paid for by hapless citizens?
Like everybody else with a broadband connection (that actually works) I have been monitoring - with fascination, disgust, horror and far-too-frequent outbursts of outrage - the social and political metamorphosis we are undergoing as a young nation with an ethnically heterogeneous population of 27 million.
The aftershocks of the electoral earthquake and psychological tsunami that occurred on 8 March 2008 continue to be felt on all levels.
Fear grips the cold hearts and poisoned psyches of the power elite - while hope flaps its fragile wings as it attempts its first tentative flight within the souls of all who truly love this land.
We have seen all the evidence we need that the pouting, pink-lipped overaged brat who has seized the post of prime minister is, in fact, more accurately described as a crime minister. The catalog of his misdeeds is legend, as only to be expected of somebody born into a political dynasty with blood on its hands and groomed from young for power.
His second wife, who could well be a favorite niece of the murderous witch Mona Fandey, has attracted massive scorn and ridicule - but carefully shields herself from the anger and resentment of the masses by engaging a retinue of professional fawners and sycophants to administer to her overweening vanity.
Constantly plotting intrigue behind their opulent backs is a gigantic can of writhing worms that represents a political party created expressly by a megalomaniacal former leader to enrich his family and supporters through colossal infrastructure expenditure and secret contracts. A political party with no tangible philosophy, no remaining ideals, no sense of evolutionary inevitability.
All it can boast is a reptilian kill-or-be-killed survival program that manifests through diverse forms of thuggery, uniformed or plainclothes, disguised as various law enforcement agencies and fake NGOs.
And yet there are courageous individuals in our midst who battle valiantly on for the restoration of justice, freedom and accountability in government. They do so at the costly sacrifice of their own personal careers and at great risk to their own lives. Some are forced to endure neverending litigation; others risk incarceration, exile, and even assassination (though we are fortunately a nation that has never as yet resorted to “termination with extreme prejudice”).
Those of us who admire and applaud these magnificent individuals for fighting the good fight on our behalf must bear in mind that we cannot achieve salvation and redemption by proxy (forget what religious orthodoxy says about Jesus dying for your sins, that’s utter crap!) Each of us has to gain entry to the promised land through our own hard-won integrity and impeccability as spiritual warriors and agents of illumination. If you can’t learn to ride a horse vicariously, what makes you think you can qualify for heaven on earth through other people’s virtue?
In effect, we really have no option but to consciously embody all the ideals and values we desire to see prevail in the world around us.
If you object to secrecy in government, then divest your own life of dark and dire secrets and do whatever you do openly, without fear and without apology. If your behavior impinges negatively on others, you will immediately be alerted to their distress. In which case, the mature response is to adjust your behavior so that it no longer poses problems for others. If you feel a stinky fart coming, just walk a few steps downwind of the crowd.
If you cherish freedom of expression and the free flow of information, then allow others to express their own thoughts and feelings without getting offended and retaliating violently. Even if they insult your pet beliefs and laugh at your fashion sense, learn to shrug, grin and walk away without making a major issue of it.
If you wish to be recognized and appreciated for your contributions, begin to freely give those around you generous amounts of positive feedback (when they deserve it, of course, for we do not condone hypocrisy in the New Dawn).
And if you truly value your glorious evolutionary destiny as conscious, volitional, sensing-thinking-and-feeling beings, then take time out from your daily routine to reassess what you’re doing with your life and what are your authentic goals.
When enough of us acquire the necessary self-discipline to regulate our own public behavior, there will no longer be any requirement for an external police force. Perhaps we will only need to maintain a token force – simply because some folks look so sexy in uniform.
[First published 19 August 2010. Reposted 6 May 2012 & 11 January 2014]
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Commentary by Gabriel Tarriba
As my Malaysian summer comes to an end, I decided to take stock of what I have learned during two eventful months of research, writing and travel in the country. I came to Malaysia knowing very little about the country: my original intention was to try to understand why this young multi-ethnic country has been so successful in developing economically over five decades.
Malaysia is today an example for many developing and emerging economies and I believe that all Malaysians should be proud of how much has been achieved in so little time. The country definitely offers many lessons for my own country, Mexico, which was spectacularly overtaken by Malaysia in economic and social development recently.
And yet, in spite of my admiration for the country’s economic trajectory, I must admit that on the political level there is something about Malaysia that I find frankly disturbing and incompatible with its image as a modern country.
It is the country’s original sin, a moral blemish so blatant and deep that even fifty years of sustained economic growth and a state machinery of censorship and intimidation have not been able to erase. It is the elephant in the room, the one element that sets Malaysia apart from the group of advanced countries that it wants to resemble.
It is also the source of national disunity and ethnic tensions, and it is intimately linked to the current political upheavals.
I am talking about the rejection of the principle of equality of all citizens contained in the Malaysian constitution. This legal anomaly underpins one of the largest systems of institutional racism of the modern world (if you prefer euphemisms you may call it ‘race-based affirmative action’. It is also the legal foundation of the New Economic Policy and all other policies that benefit one racial group over the others.
Like all forms of injustice, this inherently racist system is only viable if people are not able to discuss it; lacking any ethical and logical justification, the Malaysian original sin is underpinned by intimidation, censorship and repression. Racism stands no chance when reason is allowed to prevail.
|Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman, president of the |
fundamentalist Malaysian Muslim Solidarity NGO
Article 8 of the Malaysian Constitution says that “all persons are equal before the law” but then the second point reads: Except as expressly authorized by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of property or the establishing or carrying on of any trade, business, profession, vocation or employment.
The first seven words of the previous sentence open up the door to legal discrimination. Article 153 then clarifies what forms of discrimination are expressly authorised (hint: a lot) on the basis of the ‘special position’ of the Malays and natives of East Malaysia).
A peculiar ‘social contract’
How did this system come into being? The short answer is that the Malays managed to coerce the Chinese and Indian minorities to accept a peculiar ‘social contract’ at the time of independence, through which they would become citizens, but without the same right as the Malays. The latter never recognised the Chinese and Indian as legitimate migrants, because most of them had settled in the Malacca peninsula in British colonial times.
These migrants, or rather descendants of migrants, could either accept this raw deal or face deportation and possibly statelessness. This makes the validity of the Malaysian ‘social contract’ highly questionable, just like any contract or confession obtained through coercion is void in a court.
Leaving aside the circumstances under which the ‘social contract’ was crafted, it is worth pondering the logic for which it stands. In a nutshell, the idea is that ethnic Malays, plus the native populations of East Malaysia, are the rightful owners of Malaysia because their ancestors arrived there earlier.
It doesn’t take a genius to realise how arbitrary, unjust and impractical this reasoning is. The distribution of human groups on the territories of this planet is the result of tens of thousands of years of migrations, conquests, forced displacements and the subjugation of one group by another. There is nothing fair or civilised about it.
The ethnic Malay, Chinese, Indian, Orang Asli, and all other groups that live in modern-day Malaysia arrived on these lands at different points in time. It is absurd to qualify their right to be here on the basis of their belonging to a certain group that was politically and militarily dominant at a specific point in time.
That is why modern countries don’t try to make such distinctions: they have only one class of citizens and they all have the same rights and obligations, regardless of where their ancestors come from.
Equality is the only way to achieve national unity. You can’t tell people to unite and live in harmony when you are the first one to discriminate and divide people by race when it comes to rights and opportunities. You can’t tell people that there is ‘1Malaysia’, when all the time you promote racism, segregation, resentment and envy.
If you are serious about national unity, harmony and a constructing a common identity, you have to accept that all Malaysians have as much of a right to be here as you do, and that you are not entitled to more than anyone else.
History shows us that all systems based on racial discrimination are unsustainable in the long run, because they can only survive while reason, ethics and empathy are repressed. As Malaysia’s political system becomes more democratic and participative, the issue of equality will start to be discussed openly and without fear.
Eventually, the absurdity of the system of discrimination will become apparent to everyone and equality will be embraced as an ethical imperative but also as the missing element to propel the country into a prosperous, democratic future.