Thursday 12 April 2018

Election Fever

Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole.  Edmund Burke  1729-1797

What a sterling statement from one of Britain's foremost political philosophers!  What a perfect achievement for any Parliament.

We have to aim to achieve the very highest (and toughest) principles of life and living.  When we fail or fall, we shall not descend into the deplorable bottom of the pit, but maybe just halfway down so that we will be able to claw our way back and enable us to reach some sort of redemption. Perfection is an excellent objective but to assert that one's principles and practice are perfect is almost like claiming divinity.

Just as I prefer to be a pessoptomist - a pessimistic optimist - I stand by this vision of perfection by Shakespeare,

                                       I saw her once
Hop forty paces  through the public street;
And having lost her breath, she spoke, and panted
That she did make defect perfection,
And, breathless, power breathe forth.

We have to live with defects in our Parliament, in our leaders and especially in one very major frailty: that Malaysia as one nation and one interest is sadly and badly lacking "the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole".  Unlike the nations of Europe (including Britain), and even Japan and China to a certain extent, we were manipulated and  overpowered by the political, religious and economic ambitions of the Judaeo-Christian West.  Our history and geography, culture and economy were manufactured by others.  Southeast Asia and Nusantara became the proverbial Goose that laid the Golden Egg although in this case the Goose was not killed but allowed to keep on laying the golden eggs - thus maintaining the profitability of their enterprise.

The defects in our practice of Parliamentary Democracy are no different from any other country.  But Malaysia, unlike most other countries has a legacy and a structure that is not of our making.  Malaysia is made up of many dissimilar factions who, under the British, were allocated very differing and discordant parts to fit into the Empire's pocket.  Under such a condition, it is almost impossible to create an " assembly of one nation, with one interest".  It is like dealing with and living in an arranged and loveless marriage. You have to put up with it and hope for some kind of rapprochement and peaceful co-existence, provided no third party comes into the equation.

If oil is a curse on the Middle East, then the rich (now completely exhausted and depleted) deposits of tin in Perak and Selangor, together with the Peninsula's easy accessibility between East and West  have been the bane of the Malay Peninsula's existence.

The Malay Peninsula, a finger-like southeastern extension of the Asian Continent, caught in the grasp of the Occident and the Orient. 

Since 1957, the Federation of Malaya and later as Malaysia, has committed itself to the institution of rule by Parliament - of conducting General and Local Elections every few years. There have been many brickbats, thrown at Malaysia from both home-grown and foreign sources about the integrity of the election and the elected government.  GE14 like GE13 will demonstrate the same back-stabbing, dirty tactics, cheap racist innuendos and shifty debates to win over the hearts and minds of the electorate.  Our political parties are quite adept in pandering to the lowest common denominator in our political psyche - particularly on the issues of race and riches.

The run-up to GE 14 will promise a great deal of political theatrics and pageantry.  How shall a pessoptomistic septuagenarian cope?

I suppose I shall have to turn to Aesop and Sam.  We are all familiar with Aesop.

As for Sam .....
I reckon (when he was younger in the 1990s) he was not the sort of young man you would take home to meet your mater and pater who dwell in Kelburn, Wellington New Zealand, or Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, or Tanglin, Singapore or Hampstead Heath, London.

But as he is our Kiwi nephew we have taken him into our home in Leicester and Setiawangsa.  As you know, blood is thicker than water or even flat beer.

Sam (left) and his doppelganger, actually his twin brother Joe in the late 1980s.

In the picture above, Sam and Joe looked very bolshie and serious.  Sam had just returned from his anti-apartheid  occupations and demonstrations in Wellington. Joe is a skilful kayaker and used his hobby to harass the American warships that prowl the waters off New Zealand in the late 1980s.  In fact a few months after this picture was taken, Sam was badly beaten up by the police during an anti-apartheid demonstration in Wellington.  His right eye was permanently damaged but his commitment was left intact.

Sam spent his compensation backpacking in Pommie Land, Europe, the Middle East and continental Southeast Asia.

Sam's Journey 

When I was rummaging through the stuff I needed for this posting, I read once again after nearly 30 years Sam's postcard and I felt a lump in my throat.

Sam's Syria, thirty years ago.

Today, Syria has been bludgeoned back to the Stone Age because it was successfully and adamantly minding its own business - keeping the Americans and British and Israel and Saudi Arabia at bay.

When Sam Buchanan came home he decided to paddle his feet in the world of politics.  He became the candidate for McGillicuddy Serious Party for Kapiti.  Here's the write-up for  McG.S.P. in the local paper Kapiti Observer.

Exposing the Political Sham by Sam.

This is how this geriatric shall attempt to get through this GE 14 election fever with the aid of Aesop and Sam.

  • Aesop said :

Beware of joining forces with those who promise salvation and safety.

  • In the matter of making choices, Sam reminded voters that in "every election  .... the ordinary citizen has always lost".  Politicians always win.

  • Aesop also wrote :

  • Beware of the motives of politicians says Sam.

Aesop often used animals to refer to the self-serving nature of man, which I think is an insult to the innocent animals.  Take this fable.

Who can learn a lesson from this parable?

  1. Belacan Malays
  2. Mandi Malays
  3. Masala Malays
  4. Mayonnaise Malays
  5. The whole caboodle

Finally when this GE 14 is over I can imagine this scenario -  a panoply of  recriminations, complaints, squabbles and the 'only-in-Malaysia' tantrums!  This is how Aesop  would describe it.

To  sore losers and Travellers like these, me ole mum would say :

Hujan emas dinegeri orang, hujan batu dinegeri sendiri.

Dimana bumi dipijak, disitu langit  ku junjung.

And so, on 9 May 2018, vote wisely Malaysia.  Vote with this hope in mind -  "one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where not local purposes, not local prejudices ought to guide, but the general good ..."

And please do not denigrate the Plane Tree or take it for granted!!

To quote Rita Moreno, "Cool it".