Though pedantic (wakakaka) historians have proven that it couldn't have happened because there was no fiddle (or violin) in the period of the Great Fire of Rome (AD 64), some have suggested it might have been the lyre or the cithara.
There have also been other challenges to the accuracy of the above famous saying (eg. Nero was said to have actually participated actively in the fire fighting), but the belief that Nero fiddled while Rome burnt has been steadfastly popular for the last 2000 years it has now taken a very comfortable place in English idioms.
When we use it in the present terms, say as in, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi fiddling while Rome burns, we mean it to say that Zahid is doing nothing or something trivial (like busybody-ing himself with RoS and DAP) while knowing that something disastrous is happening in Malaysia, as in the frightening escalation of crimes.
Please read Mariam Mokhtar's latest article in her Malaysiakini column titled Trapped in a vicious cycle which tells us, just as a start, that a retired South African couple who left Johhanesburg, South Africa, reputed to be a very violent country, to make Malaysia their more peaceful 'second home' under the ‘Malaysia My Second Home’ (MM2H) programme, have now returned to South Africa because they consider "Malaysia is more dangerous than South Africa".
What a damning indictment of the state of public security in Malaysia today.
Mariam Mokhtar lamented what most Malaysians lament:
Unlike this South African couple, ordinary Malaysians are trapped in a vicious cycle of emboldened criminals, an inept police force and a government in denial. Few have access to guns like the Tan Sri who recently shot dead a thief at a clinic in Kuala Lumpur.
Owning a gun is not what Malaysians desire. We want a police force which is committed to tackling crime and not being the lapdog of Umno Baru. Cabinet ministers deny that a state of lawlessness exists. They issue statements and are then trapped by their own spin.
And the biggest culprit for our horrendous crime rate, unprecedented in our nation's history, would be, as Mariam has written, Former home minister Hishammuddin Hussein, more noted for his incompetence than his achievements in office.
Like Mariam we all are aware of his ... complete disregard for the concerns of the public. He ridiculed the rakyat after they complained about rising crime levels and told them that increased crime was only a perception.
Unlike we mere peasants and workers, Hishamuddin, his family and BN colleagues are not exposed vulnerably on a daily basis to criminal elements since they enjoy living in highly guarded communities and with the added protection of bodyguards etc.
The former Police Minister had failed miserably, while the current one is more interested in sic-ing RoS on DAP on some nebulous issues of their own making than in protecting the public and fighting the escalating incidents of violent crimes.
Even PM Najib was driven to say in sheer helpless desperation he would give the police ANYTHING they want to curb, combat and control the criminal elements. When a PM is wont to utter those desperate words of appeal to the police, it tells you not only of the scary state of lawlessness we are now living in, BUT of the abysmal failure of the police.
Just prior to GE-13 I posted Who I will vote for in GE-13 and sent to Malaysiakini a letter titled (by MKINI) Forget pork-barreling, vote for public security about the No 1 priority for Malaysians, namely public security in the face of crimes in our country. Some extracts of my letter are as follows:
Some aspects of pork-barreling have been outrageously mindless and if implemented, likely to lead to national bankruptcy, thus we may expect these to be not fulfilled.
But I dare venture that most Malaysians TRULY want only one assured avowal from the politicians, that of public security and safety.
We Malaysians want to be safe and secure from threats to our lives and property and we request for this requirement, nay, even appeal for it, because not one of us currently feels safe and secure as we go about our daily lives. We are not even referring to the intrusion by Filipino terrorists into Malaysia.
We have seen a mother, Irene Ong, slain before her daughter’s eyes during a jogging run. We have read of a number of public members being shot at, with a recent fatality in the person of Shaharuddin Ibrahim, the Royal Malaysian Customs deputy director-general, while he was being driven to his office.
Young girls like Nurin Jazlin Jazimin and Preeshena Varshiny were evilly murdered, and a young woman in a northern state disappeared while jogging and is yet to be found. We may presume she has fatally fallen prey to wicked person or persons.
Women were killed through violent falls caused by ferocious bag snatchers. Robbers, burglars, murderers, assassins, gangsters, thugs, rapists and molesters plagued our daily lives.
Since then, we have daily armed shootings, not by police but, by hardened criminals. These have been happenings that my uncles said we Malayans/Malaysians used to laugh condescendingly at and pity our neighbours in the Philippines and Thailand for their misfortune in living in their lands of lawlessness. Guess they must be having the last laugh.
I also wrote:
What happened to our once safe Malaya-Malaysia?
Has the Malaysia Boleh spirit even imbued and motivated those nefarious villains as well?
More importantly, the Malaysian police have failed the public miserably. Its claim of decreasing crime rates has obviously been a lie.
And we have caretaker Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein brazenly informing us that violent incidents would worsen during the campaign period due to police shortage. His predictions have come true but his casual abdication of responsibility or non-proactive strategy to address his forecast violence is lamentably disgraceful. If he has any self-respect or filial regard for the names of his illustrious father and grandfather, he should have resigned then.
When the domestic security of Malaysia has become so scary to the public, it becomes obvious the ruling party for the last twenty five years, BN, is unlikely to fulfil our most urgent expectation of a ruling government, that of a secure and safe Malaysia. Those BN politicians and their families and friends can live safely under escort and bodyguards and in gated communities, but what about us ordinary rakyat?
It also concerns me greatly when Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) took on board a former inspector-general of police (IGP) on its so-called security advisory panel when it is well known that the crime rates during the tenure of this former IGP were shocking. PKR’s lack of judgment in allowing the former IGP to join its security advisory panel is equally shocking.
Forget about the obscene and nonsensical pork-barreling of free this and free that. I will give my vote to the party which can convince me it is likely to ensure a rejuvenated police force to ensure the security and safety of the Malaysian public, and a police force which will not be a ‘pagar makan padi’, one which neither extorts from nor oppresses members of the public.
We should also recall that in May 2006, when the IGP-then Mohd Bakri Omar, went into merajuk non-professionalism over the IPCMC that PM AAB agreed to set up, I posted in IGP worried, PM wishy-washy, PAS whoring? that:
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng criticised the police threats of its work-to-rule and en bloc resignation consequences if the IPCMC is established:
“By threatening to allow crime to rise is utterly irresponsible and a complete surrender of the moral and legal authority of the police."
“Those who can even entertain allowing crime to rise and put property and public safety at risk as a mark of protest should either resign or be sacked for such selfish and anti-national interests attitude.”
“Abdullah must act quickly to regain the initiative over his agenda of anti-corruption, transparency, accountability and good governance by ending the open police ‘revolt’ so as to regain control of the police force.”
Would you agree then that it has been a seditious conduct of unmitigated proportion in ... threatening to allow crime rate to rise?
And that was from a former IGP who was allowed to retire with full honours!
Think about that!
Najib has only one course to go about addressing the utter failure of our public security system, and that would have to be to immediately sack the current Home Minister, the IGP, the Deputy IGP, the Director and his deputy of CID, and severely reprimand (expel from his cabinet) his cousin, the former Home Minister, all for their collective failures, and replace them with competent people.
Najib should not be like his Home Minister, fiddling away while Malaysia burns.