Tuesday, April 23

No one wants to be lonely


A language is rich when it can distinguish two words that are always taken to mean the other.

Try hit the Shift F7 keys for “loneliness” and “solitude” on the keyboard. That is easy to find the answers.

But, loneliness and solitude, though both are used to mean “being alone”, one is agonizing, the other is glorious.

“I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude”, said Henry David Thoreau, the famous 19th century author and philosopher who advocated and exercised civil disobedience to an unjust state, influencing many notable figures such as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

I learned and realised the beauty of solitude through Sim Kwang Yang. He would visit the 7th Mile wet market very early in the morning and have breakfast at the coffee shop of his good old friend, a SUPP grassroots community leader. With the dose of inspiration from talking to the folks, he would arrive back to his house savouring his most delightful hours of solitude, to read, think and write, to “examine life”.

Solitude is indeed most companionable. It inspires and enriches human existence.

We can still have quality hours of solitude, early morning and late evening hours, even more if we can resist the lure of the enticing apps of smart phones all through the day.

Not an easy feat, as solitude is predestined to mean solitary confinement and incarceration.

What a disservice to the beautiful language.

“Being alone” is the agonising “loneliness” and nothing else. Hence, no one wants to be alone. No one wants to be seen to be lonely. Everyone wants to be seen to be supported.

This is a song that everyone must learn to sing:

When you walk through a storm

Hold your head up high

And don’t be afraid of the dark

At the end of the storm

There’s a golden sky

And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind

Walk on through the rain

Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on walk on with hope in your heart

And you’ll never walk alone

You’ll never walk alone”

“You’ll Never Walk Alone”, originally a musical show tune, is sung by fans of the famous Liverpool football club all over the world, making it their anthem. It is also adopted by more than a dozen other football clubs of other nationalities, sung in different languages. When the chorus rings out loud in the stadium, it shows the strength and confidence of the club and it intimidates the opponents.

It spurs the 11 players on and the vociferous presence of supporters has the corresponding strength of a 12th player on the field.

In political arena, it is even more important to show that you have the supporters and the strength to walk through the storm, the wind and the rain. The political players must show that they are not alone.

When the national supremo was challenged, 173 out of 191 party divisional chiefs were gathered to show their solidarity. Coalition party presidents flew in from all over the country to put up a unity front.

That was quite a show of strength. Despite giving no answer to the unflattering scandals of 1MDB colossal debts and the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu, he has the undivided support of all the ruling coalition partners and overwhelming support of the political warlords from his party to walk with him.

It could have put off any political adversaries, the battle hardened oppositions aside, but certainly not the former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The prime minister of 22 years was game. “I know I am alone,” he said: “But I feel responsible to the people. Is that wrong? When the people’s money goes missing and is hidden from them, is it wrong for me to ask?”

“I know I am alone” seems to be a play of reverse psychology. Immediately, many past and present Umno leaders expressed their support for Dr Mahathir, most notably the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“Let me assure you, sir, that you are not alone,” said the DPM during his keynote speech at an anti-war forum which was attended by the former premier and his wife.

Datuk Seri Nazir Tun Razak, the brother of PM, posted a photograph of singer Michael Jackson with the title of his song “You are not alone” on his instagram account and it was immediately picked up by all the national online portals.

Popular artistes Datuk Siti Nurhaliza and Rozita Che Wan also backed Dr Mahathir for his quest to seek answers from Datuk Seri Najib Razak. “Love u Tun & sentiasa bersama Tun …”, “Tun tidak kesaorangan … kami sentiasa teguh di belakang…”

After a week, right after the PM said “I don’t feel lonely at all” in a veiled dig at him, the former premier gleefully responded: “Well, he is not alone, but lots of people tell me I am not alone.”

There are more exchanges of “I am not alone” rants from the past and present prime ministers and their supporters in the social

media to keep us entertained while we are busy in the State Assembly sittings.

A Politics 101 lesson: You can’t afford to be seen to be lonely.

But will the generating of a public perception that one is not lonely gives him the companionship? Sadly, no. Such companionships are superficial and insincere.

If the warlords were there for you because of the monthly allowance and contracts, they are mercenaries and will always be moved by offer of better pastures or ready to board another ship when the present one is sinking. They can hardly be companions.

Dr Mahathir had revealed the numbers and show that only RM14.7 billion of the RM42 billion 1MDB borrowings can be accounted for. How many will really keep the PM companionship and help bear the missing RM27.3 billion?

It is equally convincing when the former PM said that Umno will lose power if the present PM battles on. A former cabinet minister was quick to propound the rationale of his prophecy and warned of a Malay Tsunami in the next general election. How many of the companions will still remain true when they can only helplessly watch the number of “likes” on the Facebook accounts calling for the PM’s resignation surge through the roofs in a matter of days?

On Sarawak’s shores, our CM appears to gain further strength after this state assembly sitting. There will be reduction in power tariffs for commercial and industrial users, toll-free for Batang Rajang and Igan bridges, and nominal RM1 charge for every ferry service.

But the CM must be cautioned that he seems to have little companions in his crusade for integrity of governance. The disposal of our state’s controlling interests in Sacofa, the award of Pan Borneo Highway project to LBU and the granting of Land Lot 1798 shows that his effort to institute a clean, transparent and accountable administration in Sarawak remains very much a work-in-progress. Will you seek companionship in solitude, to inspire and enrich your life?

Will our political leaders seek delight in solitude, to search for inspiration to institute a clean, transparent and accountable administration and advance good governance?