Train wrecks in Malaysia Bodek – like this like that, lah
Man, what a week it has been.
We had a few “train wrecks”, including an actual one. Many were injured – we wish them swift recovery. A train driver was thrown under the wheels by a minister. His chairman was also thrown under the wheels by another minister.
What a week indeed. We had the full “Malaysia Boleh” on parade for all to see. Or is it “Malaysia Bodek”? “Malaysia Bodoh”?
Welcome to the latest tragicomic events which are today’s Malaysia. As a chronicler of the craziness around us, it’s my job to examine and dissect the causes for my fellow Malaysians. Or at least point fingers and assign blame. It’s the least I could do.
At the same time, I’m also trying hard to reach out to a broader audience to explain the “Malaysia Boleh” phenomena. I’ll explain some of the possibly strange concepts and words I use to them, and to you, too, dear local readers. No charge.
Some attribute the sorry state of things (train wrecks, Covid response, etc) to a lack of competence in high places. Others believe it’s a lack of character. I believe this is more comme ci comme ça (French for like this like that), the sadly drifting and rudderless way Malaysia is sailing the high seas.
Competence, character, comme ci comme ça – the 3Cs of Malaysia. Which are not as good as Singapore’s 5Cs. Why is it that our kiasu neighbours must always have more of everything than us?
The language of politics
I had thought of entering politics to fix things through my Semua Saya Sapu party. I already think everybody is stupid – first requirement in politics – and I’m puffed up with self-importance – second requirement. Though, I’d hate to be just another baboon among the many in our crowded political zoo.
But I’ll have better PR people to manage my political messaging! I’ll institute a 30-minute delay on my live press conferences so my PR team can spin a less farcical version of things. Or I could just declare a state of emergency and shut down Parliament, the media and internet instead.
Even with all the hoo-ha (French for hoo-ha) and hullabaloo (Nepalese) the impact of the crazy “Malaysia Boleh” stuff out there in the kampungs (Malay, though now Malaysian for villages), in the ulus (ditto, for boondocks) and the heartland is … ilek (Tamil for … nothing).
If somebody is a minister, or an MP, or a big guy with wealth and titles (like a minister or an MP) then of course, ipso facto (Latin for by the very fact; or maybe it’s Punjabi) that person is glorious and exalted and beyond reproach.
The next time these people ipso facto their way to a kampung bearing largesse (old English, meaning big ang pow, which is actually Hokkien), they will be greeted with the usual kowtowing and bodeking (old Cantonese, and new Malay words) by their constituents. Nothing would have changed.
But you may ask, doesn’t history say as society becomes more prosperous, its members also become smarter and more critical in their thinking?
Perhaps, but that certainly didn’t happen here in Malaysia. I blame our education system as one of the major culprits for that.
Those good old days in the old school
Segueing (Google it yourself) to a related topic, education in the old days wasn’t that great in reality. Those who say our schools, teachers and society were great and everybody loved each other and lived happily together, I’d say pox on your arse (of old English).
In those supposedly wonderful old days when everything was hunky-dory (Japanese for fantastic? Citations needed), millions of us were locked away beyond sight, sound, electricity, running water, basic healthcare or decent schools while the urban elites enjoyed the good Malaysian life.
Thankfully, we’ve come a long way away from those dark days. But the tragedy is we are moving fast, but not heading in the right direction.
People are more “educated” today, going by the various statistics of kids in schools, literacy rates and examinations scores. But what we have is not really education. It’s training.
Our kids are trained to become capable, or at least functional, in reading, writing and all the way up to engineering, doctoring and lawyering. The quality of such training itself is debatable, but teaching people practical skills is certainly not education.
Neither is rote memorisation. Real education is preparing people to be responsible, curious, self-aware and productive members of society who can differentiate between right and wrong, truth and lies. They learn from history and other cultures, and build a better future from these.
Missing the high C
In other words, it’s about critical thinking. It’s the fourth “C” that couldn’t quite find a footing in Malaysia.
The rot goes back to when race became a major factor in our politics. Cunning politicians discovered they could gain a huge advantage by playing on racial fears and stoking communal tensions. They abandoned nation-building and creating a just society – too difficult and not much money in it.
Religion became a useful tool. Instead of being a strong moral compass, it became about rituals, unquestioning obedience and never-ending wars, whether cultural or real, against perceived enemies.
It’s useful to have a docile, pliant populace. Probably nobody actually said: “Hey, let’s sabotage the education system so we can keep everybody dumb and scared and easily exploitable.” But they knew the dumber and more scared the people are, the easier to exploit them.
This comes easily to us who already believe in “beri betis nak paha” (Malay – give an inch want a mile); that sifus (Chinese – masters) must never teach everything to their students; that everybody must accept their allotted destinies unquestioningly.
In other words, putting people in their “rightful” places – meaning down there – comes naturally to us.
The route to Malaysia Boleh
Education is dumbed down. Questioning things becomes disobedience. Society grows more feudal (Latin, always feuding), which is very convenient for our (very feudal) leaders. Very convenient for many followers too, not having to think and make decisions for themselves.
And on top of that, create bogeymen (probably a golf term, meaning a bad guy) for the masses to focus their hatred; be consistent with your Big Lie (American – also about race); keep people needy through handouts and unfair privileges, and the game is yours.
Then you can put any incompetent, low-character baboon into any public position, and as long as they dispense largesse (see above) and the feudal (ditto) culture remains, it will be status quo (a rock band that rots your brain through loud noise).
Malaysia Boleh mah (Malay/Chinese hybrid).
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.