Thursday, January 20

The circus is in town

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THERE is no travelling circus in Malaysia but I learn from the movies that in countries where there are, the first sign that the circus is coming to town is the appearance of flags and banners in open fields and roadsides.

In the days before the circus, promoters would drive around the town with large loud speakers blaring out promises of the exciting show to come. Yes, there would be much blowing of the trumpet, expelling of hot air and outlandish claims to greatness.

There are certainly lots of banner, flags and billboards in the city this week, heralding a circus of another kind. Of course, I am talking about the coming election.

Wait a minute; I should be slapped on the wrist for making the irreverent association of such an important event as the general election with a circus. I do apologise but I find the similarities too tempting.

We also have lots of hot air, blowing of one’s own trumpet and fantastic promises. In fact we have more than that.

While the circus promoters merely concentrate on tooting their own horn and do not see the need to denigrate anyone, politicians on the other hand, dish out insults in equal measure to their hyperbole.

Experienced politicians are wily creatures. They know that the voters are their masters in this run up to the day of reckoning.

Of course, the voters’ claim to power is as short lived as a mayfly’s life (Mayflies lifespan is about a day to a week).

But still these temporary masters have to be wooed at all costs and certainly should not be insulted. The greenhorn politicians on the other hand, are as naive as a child.

They have not acquired the skill of doublespeak. One such newbie politician is the SUPP Wanita chief. She was caught on video criticising the campaign which encourages Malaysians residing overseas to return home to vote.

“They (the overseas voters) come home, ‘shit’, cast a ballot and then pat their buttocks, and leave the country and continue their lives overseas without concern of Malaysians at home how they would be facing Islamic law and PAS,” said the clueless and crass lady.

Clueless, because she should know that one should not belittle the people who collectively have the power of a kingmaker.

Clueless, because in saying so she seemed to concede that all the overseas voters would vote against her party and its coalition.

Crass, because … I don’t think I need to elaborate. However, this much I can say of her, at least she was honest. She carried her contempt of anyone who does not agree with her on her sleeve. In a warped way she displayed herself as an honest politician.

In that sense she is in the same company as the few racist bigots in Peninsular Malaysia – they hate people who are not of their own race and they are prepared to say so.

Circus people go to great lengths (some would say grotesque lengths) to woo their customers. Politicians too work as hard to reach out to their voters.

They are prepared to go out of their comfort zone. However, some stray so far from their area of competence that they risk being called silly.

This week a few stalwarts of a Chinese political party took to recording some songs. They obviously believe that music is food for the soul. It is said that karaoke takes singing from out of the bathroom.

Unfortunately, for these rather untuneful politicians, they should have kept their singing to strictly under the shower.

Circuses usually include some form of glamour in the shape of some shapely and beautiful ladies. We too have that when one of the parties recruited a Malaysian actress who has made a name for herself on the international scene to their cause.

Poor little rich girl Michelle Yeoh (well, maybe not that poor nor that little) drew the ire of thousands of netizens when she openly urged people to support the PM. She was called a ‘traitor’, ‘government stooge’ and other choice vituperative remarks.

Hang on, what’s wrong with that? Isn’t that her democratic right? She can support and vote for anyone, that’s her choice. In fact she can even campaign for the racist bigots and still be within her rights.

“But she played Aung San Suu Kyi,” said someone on the Net.

He was referring to the fact that Michelle Yeoh acted the part of that Burmese political heroine who stood up to the Burmese military regime and suffered house arrest for decades.

Well, that’s what we call ‘acting’. The poor misguided netizen has confused the on-screen persona with the real person. Some years ago the Philippines people also made the same mistake.

They voted in Joseph Estrada as their President. Estrada was a film star specialising in the role of the righteous hero who courageously fought for the poor against great odds.

However, in real life, Joseph Ejercito Estrada was a college dropout and an amoral alcoholic who sired a few children out of the wedlock. Estrada who could hardly distinguish economics from ergonomics and almost brought the country to ruin.

So it should be okay for Michelle Yeoh to declare her love for Najib as the PM. It is her choice. Just as it is your choice if you care to put her in your mental blacklist.

In this coming week we will be bombarded, and with increasing frequency and greater decibels, the promises and the perils of the contending parties. There will be so much noise but thankfully it will end in a week’s time. Phew!

In the meantime it is for us to use our logic and conscience to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Comments can reach the writer via dunstandesee@theborneopost.com.