Thursday, March 30

Signs of our time

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MUCH as we’d like to ignore them, they appear to be everywhere these days, those darn things.

Indeed, we turn left, and sad, grazing cows and, a gleaming Mercedes and grand condominiums – all RM250 million of them – will jolok our mata. Or ‘poke our eyes’, as any Ministry of Defence official will translate for you.

We look right, and we see our sad national car-maker losing more than RM3 billion in cash reserves in just over 10 years. We also hear of a world-class motorcycle company being sold off for one euro (RM4) by the same national car company, only to be bought up later, for a cool RM800 million, by BMW and Harley Davidson.

We glance nervously backward, and we see more of our money – all RM1.5 billion of it, from our retirement fund, the EPF – being taken out, without so much as a by your leave, to act as home loans for unqualified buyers. By ‘unqualified’ here, I believe they mean those who would be turned away by commercial banks for being of some ‘risk’.

We also see more of our rapidly depleting funds potentially being deducted on an ongoing basis to pay for our healthcare under a ‘new’ system called 1Care (could more of us say ‘Enough already!’ to all this contrived 1nonsense?). Again, without much consultation with us poor suckers.

Still craning our necks backward, a la Linda Blair in ‘The Exorcist’, we catch sight of a rotund miscreant and his bunch of not-so-merry reprobates hurling abuse at other Malaysians while handing out white ang pow packets.

We forge ahead, nervously – but optimistically – staring to the future, and we are met with the ugly sight of a never-ending sham of a court case.

A case that brings shame to us all as a people; from a judicial system gone terribly wrong to a religious and cultural system that is so damn quick to pounce on Romeos (and Juliets) in love at this time of the year, yet acts with pathetic impotence when it comes to speaking up against, let alone clamping down on, corruption and other real crimes against society.

And while this and the continuous plundering and pillaging is going on, we are incessantly fed – particularly by the mainstream peninsula newspapers and, of course, Malaysia’s broadcasting companies – what recently has been called the politics of fear and division.

But what is this ‘politics of fear and division’?

Writing in a local news portal, former local journalist, William de Cruz, who is now based in Sydney, succinctly explains this ongoing sandiwara where the strategy is to portray such assaults on its (the administration’s) legitimacy as the beginning of the end to a presumed constitutional privilege for Malays, the relegation of Islam to just-another-religion status in an essentially secular nation and the demise of the Malay sultanate, in whose lineage are the supreme religious leaders of all Malaysian Muslims.

These are, indeed, also the rantings of groups like Perkasa and even that individual recently kicked out from PAS.

What are essentially and clearly problems of corruption and outright racism, bigotry and discrimination are almost immediately reinterpreted and recast as attacks by ‘evil others’ (local and international) on ‘our’ people, ‘our’ race, and ‘our’ religion.

This is absolute tosh, of course.

A well-meaning, doubtlessly spiritual, acquaintance sent me a Biblical quote sometime ago that reads: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

While I would want to share the purity of such sentiments, nonetheless I would believe that it also means that evil – in any and every form – needs to revealed for what it is.

Indeed, more so when it is deliberately disguised as the ‘proper’ way for us all.

There is so much of that evil around us now. And much of it is depicted often enough as of little or no consequence to us.

Of course this is untrue.

From the cow and condominium controversy, through the insults hurled by the likes of Imbecile Ibrahim, to the potential rip offs which will bleed our (not their) coffers, all these events have implications for us all.

And no amount of constructed fear and division should make us forget that.