Sunday, October 28, 2007

Humanizing the Demigods

Many of the tragedies of life today seem to point at human inconsideration and callousness as their cause. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, or meteorites smashing onto the earth, maybe the exceptions. Even then who decided to build human settlements on volcanic mountainslopes, too close to the seashores etc. Human beings are still to be blamed, or rather the human demigods who control and manipulate human decisions by the powers that have been vested on them by other human beings.

These demigods take many shapes and forms. From elected or appointed high executives to enriched human entrepreneurs. They determined and sactioned what people can do or cannot do. Their action brings forth prosperity or disaster, thus giving them the feeling that they are ever so powerful, even mightier than God sometimes.

These demigods. pocket dictators, little Napoleans etc. are sometimes the saviors of human society or in other instances, the root cause of its insensitivities to human sufferings. People become disinterested and unconcerned with the welfare of their neighbours and fellowmen because the authorities are not concerned with their problems. Rubish dumps and oxidation ponds are left to exude sickening odours, perpetual traffic jams make people tensed and short-tempered, unchecked minor criminal activities lead to major and vicious crimes, playful bullying and ragging in schools lead to widespread indiscipline and juvenile social abberations. Crammed housing with narrow and unkempt streets will lead to the creation of squalid urban sprawls and sordid slumps. Under such conditions human being can easily loose their dignity and moral values, slumping down under the the pressure for survival and tolerence.

Under such circumstances the demigods must first be humanized before a new culture and concern for the common weal can be generated. The demigods themselves must not be activated by the pursuit for wealth and power only but be responsive to the more subtle requirements of maintaining human dignity and pride among both rich and poor. If they had never known poverty in their life, they should be exposed to its devastation and humility to understand how the poor feel. Their own moral values and ethical propensity must be retuned to conform to those of the middle and lower class society in order to regain their confidence.

Too many times the demigods of today's life show a heart that's ruled by their need to pursue and maintain power, wealth and all their worldly interests. Human beings becvome mere numbers and statistics in their deliberation. Ia a few must die to placate the majority, their deaths become a necessary evil. President Bush calls such death a "collateral damage". Such leaders are the first to need a lesson in humanization. But who can teach them? Osama ben Laden?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Policemen Shot Dead....

2 policemen shot dead and 2 injured in a shootout at Sungai Buluh! After several accounts of armed robberies, street murders, bizarre killings of kids, and open clashes between criminals and the police, the cold blooded shooting of policemen seemed to
confirm the notion that the criminals of today are like Rambos. Very daring and well armed. But are the policemen on beat ( not the real crime busters and commandos) also tucking in their overgrown paunches, cocking up their underused muscles and honing in their weaponry skills to meet up with the challenge? Or are they still expecting that their presence alone will cause the criminals to shiver or flee?

Verily, the policemen on beat must buck up for they may at any time come-up face-to-facee with the Rambos. Even the Mat Rampit can be just as dangerous since many a traffic corps had been rammed up. It's either a matter of the enemies becoming very strong or the police becoming very weak.....

It's hightime for the police to shed their uniforms and become crime busters in macho clothings like the nightfarers in the busy streets of KL. Uniforms don't scare the criminals anymore. Use automatics that don't kill but give you hell of a shocker that you cannot move. PM's and the IGP's insistent on following the mannuals, arrange proper back-up squads to cordon off target area etc., is bunkum. Before you're ready the criminals would have scooted thousands of miles away. Be ready to spring at any time with oozies and bombs. That's how you can scare them. Not with the snubnose that corps on beat carry.

No....I think our policemen had only shown their fangs at traffic violaters on the road. Otherwise they're just too soft, as one senior police officer did admit. Life has been too kind on them for a long, long while. Even the chiefs look clumsy and slow - not the Rambo-Rainbow type. Let the commandos loose, the Special Force Unit or SWAT. They should be the crime fighters of today, not the paper pusher at Bukit Aman. The Commercial Crime Unit should also be filled with people the likes of Colombo and Kojak. Do we train such people and do they get to the top or are the fanny-fanners (FF) cramming up the top echelon of the police force? More policemen are going to be massacred if the FF are allowed to run the Crime Busting Division of the force with softies doing the beat. We need fast-n-straight shooting corps, with Jacky Chan's fighting style and Colombo's persistence, patience and smooth-talking, respectful traits. Not the Lebih Gertak dari
gerak type,

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Balik Kampung Ritual

Balik Kampung is a must for Malays who hail from the kampungs, come hariraya.Ever ask why? Sure, go back to their roots, the old folks who didn't migrate along with them to the towns or cities, to the old relatives and friends, to celebrate in the ambiance of old memories and haunts.

But more importantly, as I begin to realize, is to meet with most of your friends and relatives who have migrated to the various urban centres in Malaysia and whom you've not met for years. You're not even sure where their current addresses are nor can you visit them all in one go. Chances of meeting them all in the kampung are brighter than attending a formal gathering where many may fail to appear.

Nothing can reflect the changes that have occurred in the rural communities after 50 years of merdeka than the hariraya festivities. Old houses that were once humble and serene are now transformed into grand and even palatial residence, well adorned for the occasion. ( Of course there are also many forsaken homes, battered and dilapidated, with no decendents of the departed seemingly interested in renovating and maintaining them!). The renovated or new houses will have a well landscaped and lush green compound, sporting some up to ten or more gleaming cars belonging to family members. When I visitted a relative of my wife who, she said, used to live in a rickety on-room wooden hut some 30 years ago, I was surprised to find a sprawling home with two guessrooms each of which can be turned into a fullscale badmington court. In the courtyard was a
brandnew blue Mercedes Benz 240C, a 4WD Sportage, two other sports cars and some huge motorbikes. The grand old lady had fourteen kids and is now a grand old widow. Among her children is a big-time contractor, a senior university lecturer, several professionals, and one of the daughter-in-laws is an air hostess. The late husband was only a policeman - a private.

My first reaction was to reevaluate my stand on family planning. It was useful at one time when the Malays were trying to get out of the clutches of poverty. But now we should put it in reverse, at least for those who can afford to have a big family, especially since primary education is now almost free.

The big issue facing the remoter rural villages as is my own, is one of survival. Although it's just about a kilometer away from the main road some ten miles away from Kuala Pilah and fifteen miles away from Seremban, with a metalled single-lane road linking it to the main road, ther village is loosing its adult population. All the young men and women had migrated to the urban centres, leaving the tinytots and the very old folks in the village. Only three men under 50 are left behind. Most of the old houses though already renovated are being reclaimed by the secondary jungle. The padi fileds have been abandoned years ago. The population of the village has dwindled from some 800-1000 people some ten years ago to about 150.

I wonder how many villages in the nation are undergoing the same process of "dying out". Many, many years ago when the country was undertaking "urbanisasi" in a serious way, govermnet servants like me used to voice our views that rural-urban migration might depopulate the villages unless something was done to make the rural arreas appeal to the young. Agricultural modernization and bringing light industries to the rural areas were not enough. Bandarisasi should be accompanied by bringing the attractions of the urban areas to the rural, including nightclubs and funfairs. The ulamas, both self-proclaimed and aspirants, objected strongly. And now, many of the rural villages are dying and only those close to the urban centres seemed to have gained a new life.

What are we going to do about it? Shall we just leave the remote rural villages die away and be reclaimed by the jungle?

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Cultural Divide

After 50 years of merdeka, we suddenly feel that the cultural divide between us Malaysians is resurfacing in a way that's most disturbing. It's more like the elderly mixed-marriage couple suddenly realizing their differences as their offsprings begin to form different ethnic groupings. And they started to quarrel on what went wrong!

Our political system has always been based on the coalition of ethnically based parties. Why the sudden panic to merge the parties together as suggested by the Acting Gerakan President TS Dr Koh Tsu Koon? Is it just an effort to put the party's "Satu Hati" slogan into high profile or the start of a new movement in line with the Malaysian Malaysia concept? The PM seemed very happy at the Gerakan national delegates conference ( NST pic. October 7, p.2) where the suggestion for the merger was made, but on the very next day commented that the idea was "impractical". He must have been taken by a big surprise with the suggestion, indicating that coalition leaders do not discuss things any longer before making important policy statements in their party's annual conference.

From another perspective we see DS Samy Vellu deriding Datuk Nallakarupan's effort to create MIUP, maintaining that MIC is enough to represent the Malaysian Indians' interest in the coalition government. The MIC boss is also unpurturbed by the allegation made by PPP's chief Datuk M.Kayveas that not enough is being done for the Indian community, though the former's generals keep lambasting the PPP champion. Promoting ehtnic interest is still the issue as is the main cause of Chinese dissatisfaction presented to MCA President Datuk Ong Kah Ting by critics of the MCA.

So many racial issues seemed to be cropping up these days making the ethno-cultural divides in Malaysia more and more conspicuous again. The National Education Policy is alleged to be biased in favour of the Malays, the NEP and all the concomitant creation of various special Funds (which to the Malays themselves, seemed to merely line the pockets of certain party bigwigs and enrich their cronies), the issuance of licence for business and provision of public services, etc.etc. All these talk about the non-Malays being sidelined or marginalized in spite of the fact that the business magnates and tycoons, the new millionaires and billionaires in Malaysia, and the majority of the nouve riche, are NOT Malays. The wealthy Malays are mostly those who have strong connections with the powers that be or the stalwarts of UMNO, such that the ordidnary Malays categorized them as a 'cultural class' of their own. Discomfort and distrust about their leadership is also beginning to be felt and even openly expressed through the grapevines.

Thus, national reintegration, seemed to be be what is required now. The ethinic, cultural or politico-economic subcultural divides or groupings which have acquired clearer and sharper profile all these years of rapid growth and development, must be defaced and obliterated. Racial issues usually stemmed from such divides and groupings, not just interracial but often intraracial in nature. Malaysians who have worked together, attain a more or less equal standards of living, live together in the lower and upper middle-class housing development areas, do not seem to have much problems of interacting among themselves. Their problems and dissatisfactions are directed more at the luxurious and high-flown style of living among the wealthy and powerful, because of their positions and connections in the ethnically based political parties, irrespective of race or religion. Their grievances become more worrisome and obsessive when the wealthy and powerful involved are considered not even fit to lead the nation and its people.

The merger of political parties need not be the solution to the problem. What is important is for the party bigwigs to stop creating their own clans and cronies which are enhancing the ethnic and cultural divides through their indiscretions, complacency, imperviousness to criticisms and superficial efforts to champion the cause of the ordinary Malaysian citizens,
especially of their own racial group. The ethno-cultural divides that exist in the country today is more the result of politico-economic exclusivity rather than ethnic differentiation. The working man-in-the street has nothing against his collegue no matter what the colour of his skin is or whther he goes to the mosque, the church, the temple or elsewhere to pray. Or whether he orays at all. It's the all-powerful and filthy rich party-men who act like mini Gods which cause the ordinary Malaysian citizens to split.