Distract, delight and demonise


Unless you were a Martian, I am sure you would have noticed the signs that the 13th Malaysian General Election isn’t a long way off.

Indeed, while it is not due until early next year, nonetheless, from the warung to the kopi tiam virtually everyone is betting that it will take place much earlier than that.

Some have even argued that it would have taken place much earlier, last year even. Unfortunately for the incumbent, there was this ‘unfinished business’ of the wasteful sandiwara called a trial that was, in more ways than one, a right pain in the derrière.

And just when we were breathing a huge sigh of relief and thought that this Drama Minggu Ini was over, the RTM-type scriptwriters decided to prolong our agony by writing in an improbable twist.

A twist that truly indicates that whatever new communications technology we may have procured or developed over these years, our scriptwriters’ brains – after a half century of coming up with gawd-awful stories – evidently have turned to mush.

So this sordid tale is dragged on. Much of it, to be sure, at the expense of us taxpayers.

Whether this was all premeditated, as some have eloquently argued, or whether this script rewrite became a necessity because cows and condos suddenly dropped from the sky and put a spanner in the works, we can only guess.

But what we can be sure of is that not many of us were terribly amused to hear the allegation that a tad over RM250 million of our money somehow had gone towards purchasing a Mercedes, a couple of luxury condos in Bangsar and in Singapore, and to pay off some rather exorbitant credit card bills.

Exorbitant for us poor plebeians, at least.

This was money that was meant to go towards developing our fledgling beef industry. And this, clearly unforeseen, revelation simply happened at the wrong time in this grand soap opera that is Malaysian Politics.

I’m tempted to say that, as the cow manure started hitting the fan, in the background, some top politicians must have turned to another, stuttering: What now, brown cow?

Be that as it may, initially what was adopted was the oh-so-predictable strategy of burying this story, first into the inside pages of newspapers or as an inconsequential filler in a news broadcast.

By now, I am sure you would have noticed that much of the story is slowly disappearing from the mainstream media.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Meanwhile, of course, there’s a need for distractions in this soap opera, to throw us gullible audiences off the scent.

First, there was this ancient professor; dragged in suddenly to dispute the existence of characters many of us suspected were fictional anyway. Then, this same old coot, more insidiously,
began trying to rewrite the
history of the Left in Malaya. For the latter, he was rightly admonished and corrected by a true scholar.

Next, in came Ib Ali and his bunch of Perkasa goons, first to make a racial issue out of cows and, next, to host a Chinese New Year do that ends up insulting the Chinese community. No apology is offered, of course, which is par for the course for these Neanderthals.

While all this was grabbing the headlines on the Peninsula and keeping us well-distracted,
I’m sure the main characters were keeping their fingers crossed that cows and condos would become yesterday’s cerita, just like the Scorpene submarines.

But of course there’s a need to go beyond that, to possibly appease and please the rakyat, to ‘manage our expectations’ leading up to the elections.

Indeed, with delightful presents being handed out to the rakyat – such as pay increases for civil servants, no matter how controversial, RM200 book vouchers for students and RM500 (wow!) for poor citizens – there’s certainly a lot to keep us preoccupied…and, of course, for us to spend at the 1Malaysia shops.

And I’m sure there’s no relationship between all this and that scourge called ‘money politics’.

But, of course, we all know that in any of our recent elections, distracting and delighting the masses won’t be enough.

There’s also the need to demonise.

And if you’re a betting man or woman, you can bet your mortgage that as the days to the elections become shorter, there’ll be endless character assassinations and the manufacture of blatant untruths.

And we call ourselves a ‘caring society’?