Saturday, February 02, 2008

Marina Mahathir on 'The Art of Fear'

Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd
- Betrand Russell

Sometimes it takes careful analysis plus the craft of a wordsmith to point out succinctly whether action or implementation has been consistent with official policy.

I give credit to Marina Mahathir for demonstrating these skills in her article The bogeyman’s to blame in the Star Online.

She started by writing:
'We see the constant blaming of foreign workers for all our ills, but none of it can really stand up to scrutiny.'

Marina reminded us that:
‘blaming the bogey man is a tried and true political strategy that when things aren’t quite rosy, one should distract the people by focusing on something else or coming up with a bogeyman. The former diverts attention from what is really on peoples’ minds, while the latter seeks someone or something else to blame. Sometimes politicians even attempt a combination of both.’

What she was referring to have been recent price increases and inflation, stuff that hit the ordinary bloke’s pocket and his/her three pinggan of nasi (plates of rice) or roti canai.

The Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research polled people on several issues of concerns and discovered that the MOST important have been these two issues, price increases and inflation.

That’s what the government wants to distract us from with
‘Look, there’s a bird, no an aeroplane, no no no, it’s a foreign worker!’

Our pissed concerns have been more justified when we see the profligate way in which the cabinet has squandered money on executive jets, luxury cruiser, multi-million dollar sports complex, a new Istana that we can ill afford, etc.

After the issues of prices and inflation, the poll said that the rakyat is concerned about ethnic inequalities, then crime and public safety. Marina said:
‘Everything else, including politics, corruption, drug abuse and illegal immigrants rank much further down the list.’

But the illegal immigrant gets kicked to the front as the bogey man to distract, divert and disturb the voters. Mind you, that doesn't mean that they aren't a real concern. It's just that they have been 'used' to cover up far more worrying issues.

And may I add that putting fear into voters as a means of marshalling them over to the government's banner is not unique to Malaysia, though our leaders do it with irresponsible reckless toying with inflammatory racist issues like ‘ketuanan Melayu’, ‘watch out for a May 13 recurring if you vote for us’, ‘don’t force Malays to take to the streets with machetes’, ‘Christians are right now converting Muslims at a Perak church’, and from the opposition side, ‘Melaka pigs have more protection than Terengganu Malays’, etc

Overseas, we see Australia’s former PM John Howard and his 'SS Tampa' sandiwara (over-dramatisation), the bullsh*t ‘children overboard’, a program of incremental Muslim bashing (like the 'SS Tampa', the scare campaign of the 'Turbaned Hordes are already at the gates') culminating in a shameful exposure of such an attempted scare campaign in the last general election.

In UK there was Tony Blair and his lie of ‘WMD is a mere 45 minutes from Baghdad to London’ and George Bush’s equally deceitful lie on the ‘links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda’ and the subsequent beat up on ‘Homeland security’.

Marina also reminded us of the Falkland War which was Margaret Thatcher’s more deadly example of our bogey man, the illegal immigrant.

Domestically, the government has been attempting to rejuvenate old stories as part of the distraction tactic. She said:

‘For instance, the old story that in an opposition-held state supermarket lines are gender-segregated came immediately after an uproar over similarly-segregated schools in government-held states.’

Above underlining are mine

This was where she blasted the government and earned my admiration for her succinct differentiation. She said: ‘At least, in the first instance (the PAS action), this was a policy that was announced by the government in power, but in the second (the same action in schools in BN states) it was happening in defiance of regulations.’

above words in parentheses are mine

I believe she had implied that the second, that of ‘Little Napoleon’ zealots acting beyond policy guidelines or even regulations, is the more dangerous. If she did, I agree full-heartedly with that implication.

Today, many of Malaysia’s social and institutional ills arising out of ethnic imbalance in appointments in all government organisations (the Public Service, Judiciary, Police and Armed Forces, etc) and government funded institutions (universities, etc) have been due to those Little Napoleons’ hands acting beyond official policies. Yes, the implementation went beyond the call of official, though not of covert, duty.

But unfortunately and predictably, the political leaders who were/are in the know and in authoritative positions to slap those zealots back into line have failed miserably to do so. Instead they even cover up or protect their ill disciplined Little Napoleons - remember the previous IGP who threatened UMNO MPs in a private briefing session that if they allowed the IPCMC to be established the Police could not guarantee their successful re-election?

And was he sacked for that impertinence, his Little Napoleon 'scare campaign'? Instead, when he retired, it was with full honours and the grateful thanks of the PM.

Worse than all these, in their 'independent' implementation of official policies the zealots have not only gone beyond guidelines or government intent, they had allowed incompetents to fill key appointments with the inevitably consequential adverse outcomes.

Notwithstanding her clarity of perception and even-handed analysis, Marina of course condone neither PAS nor BN gender-segregation policies. She lambasted both cases as 'band-aid policies' where the real solution, addressing male bad behaviour had been ignored or even accepted as normal, while the poor females are, in her citrous caustic criticism,
'inconvenienced, rather than (shock, horror) empowered to deal with it'.

I think she had been too kind to term those gender-segregation as 'band aid policies'. I would call them 'intrinsic misogynistic obsession to disempower female citizens'.


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  2. ;-)

    "Haiyah, the day she writes about issues that REALLY affect the country instead of filler articles like this ..."

    I believe what she wrote is very important coz it has already adversely affected the country. We need to highlight these cases more.

    Why should she have to write about Lingamgate? It's up to her (and to each and everyone of us bloggers), and you partially answered your own question - Marina has deep interest in women's and social affairs, and what she has written has been about both.

    We have a tendency to overconcentrate on scandalous stuff like the Lingam tape to teh sad neglect of '3 bowls of rice' - we should also be looking at those!

    "Regarding your argument that Malaysia is not alone in using fear, just cos other people does it too doesn't make it right ..."

    Aiyah, Jed, before you put accuse me of 'saying' what the gomen did has been OK, you should complete reading my writeup to take in the full context? Now be a good sweetie and please continue from that sentence ... ;-)

  3. brilliant analysis again. :)

    KT, what's your actual occupation?

  4. ;-) in the blogging world, I am 'holding jobs' known variously as:

    (1) paid UMNO cybertropper
    (2) paid DAP cybertrooper
    (3) paid MCA cybertrooper
    (4) mullah kt - inshallah and alhamdulillah, I love this one ;-)
    (5) leftwing looney or moonbat
    (6) incorrigible flirt - Ooooooo
    (7) antianwarista yes, some truth in this one ;-)
    (8) antirajabodek (Koh TK) yes yes ;-)
    (9) antisemitic (which one? jews or arabs? hahahahaha)


  5. We are free to chose what we want to write.It's a free country, mate. Nobody should dictate what we should write about and what we shouldn't.

    It's obvious her article are meant to kill two birds with one stone.One tells the story and the other one to put the current government in a bad light.

    You should know the reasons why she wouldn't write about Lingamgate.

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  8. I have edited what Anonymous of 11:03 PM, February 18, 2008 said...

    "How come ... she ... was not so critical of her father when her father was in power?"

    I am not going to permit ad hominen obscenity - deal with the issue, not the person!

  9. You Ktemoc have forgotten that the integrity of a person affects the judgment which the person passes on others. Here you have a woman whose ex-husband was given a good job at the expense of more qualified locals. Nor has she ever publicly expressed sympathy for the victims of her father's 'terror'. It may not be polite to call her a bitch but the description sure applies.
    You should also show some solidarity with victims of Mahathir's rule rather than praising a woman who obviously benefitted from his rule