Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Until then…surviving the next 100 days

The Malaysian Reserve

 August 20, 2013
It has been 100 days since GE13 and what has changed? Nothing, if you look at the current state of affairs.
By Syed Nadzri Syed Harun
With all due respect to singer- poet Bob Dylan, his awe inspiring Seven Days is, in this particular period, showing an uncanny bearing to the swirling disquiet around us in Malaysia.
Except that in the local context it is significantly not seven but “100 days”.
It has been 100 days since the bruising 13th general election (GE13). And there’s 100 more days to an equally anticipated Umno general assembly where the party’s election results and new lineup picked through a completely new process would be endorsed.
And here we are, right smack within the clash of the 100 days, grappling with a great deal of trepidation and nervousness in the air.
Here, we see an analogous situation to the legend’s immortal words reproduced below with slight modifications to suit the occasion:
100 days, 100 more days you’ll be coming
We’ll be waiting at the station for you to arrive
100 more days, all we gotta do is survive.
That was just the beginning. And in the Malaysian context about what lies beneath, Dylan’s subsequent verse becomes even more relevant:
There’s kissing in the valley,
Thieving in the alley,
Fighting every inch of the way.
Trying to be tender,
With somebody I remember.
In a night that’s always brighter than the day.
Oh, how apt the words appear to be, especially to those directly connected (or, in this environment full of suspicion, think they are directly connected).
It has been 100 days since GE13 and what has changed? Nothing, if you look at the current state of affairs.
Hate and mistrust
There is a lot of hate and mistrust around and practically everyone is feeling the tension except those forever in denial mode but then even burying heads in the sand over things like criminal cases does not work anymore.
A hundred days after GE13 and politics throws its weight like nobody’s business.
The 100 more days to the Umno assembly simply compound matters because so much is at stake and in the crucial build-up, a disguised hate can readily turn into hypocrisy, as seen in many instances during the festive season.
I saw an open display of hypocrisy at the open house of Kedah Mentri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir last week.
Seri Mentaloon, the MB’s official residence, seems to have come back to life after a long while and I think Mukhriz has got it made as the new chief executive of the Kedah government.
The crowd that turned up was huge and among them I could see some of his detractors, faces of those who used to run him down previously.
I mischievously greeted one of them and he said it all in one word: “Hemoi”, a Kedah slang for being thick-skinned. Was that a surprise?
But actually the hatred spinning around is worrying in this 100-day season where some people are set at fighting every inch of the way.
There is too much emotion over religious matters, creating a web of fear. As such, there are plenty of landmines and booby traps and you might just step on them, as seen in the controversy over the Johor surau fiasco and the disclaimer put up by Astro in its documentary on Pope Francis.
For Astro, it was caught and will always be caught in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. But on the broader side, why is everyone so sensitive nowadays?
I remember as a schoolboy in a 100% Malay-Muslim boarding school many years ago, we used to watch and enjoy the movie “Shoes of the Fisherman” shown in our school hall as one of the weekly Saturday night features.
The Hollywood movie, starring Anthony Quinn and Sir Lawrence Olivier, was a political intrique but contained extensive information about Catholic faith and practice, including detailing the procedures involved in selecting a new Pope.
Nobody cried foul then, the class ustaz did not make noise and none of us ended up being converted. At that time too there were “school concession tickets” made available for big movies such as “Ben Hur” and “Ten Commandments” which would now surely require at least a “viewer discretion” disclaimer, whatever that means, if not banned altogether.
Sadly now, despite all the years gone by, we have ended up having to tip-toe all the way or risk being branded anti-this or worse, accused of insulting the religion.
Message from a sermon
For this, let us take refuge from the message about ill will, suspicions and slander, that came from the pulpit in last Friday’s sermon at Tun Abdul Aziz mosque in Section 14, Petaling Jaya.
“If there arises any displeasing or unsatisfying matter, then it calls for a discussion within the spirit of mushawarah (consultation),” said the khatib.
“But in matters without consensus agreement especially in trivial or secondary matters (furoo), then we must be tolerant, open-minded, and forgiving. Every Muslim should also do away with deplorable traits such as being envious of others.
“Envy will only sever the bond of brotherhood among Muslims. Similarly with dispraised attributes like causing fitnah, backbiting, suspicion, and always looking for faults and mistakes of other Muslims.”
For many more 100 days to come, I think that’s loud and clear.
Syed Nadzri is editor-inchief of The Malay Mail. Feedback: syednadzri@ redberry.com.my

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