Monday, 18 February 2008

A Curse in the Malaysians' Embrace.

"In the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde describes an exceptionally handsome young man so captivating that he drew the awe-stricken adulation of a great artist. The artist asked him to be the subject of a portrait for he had never seen a face so attractive and so pure.
When the painting was completed, young Dorian became so enraptured by his own looks that he wistfully intoned how wonderful it would be if he could live any way he pleased but that no disfigurement of a lawless lifestyle would mar the picture of his own countenance. If only the portrait would grow old and he himself could remain unscathed by time and way of life. In Faustian style he was willing to trade his soul for that wish.
One day, alone and pensive, Dorian went up to the attic and uncovered the portrait that he had kept hidden for so many years, only to be shocked by what he saw. Horror, hideousness, and blood marred the portrait. The charade came to an end when the artist himself saw the picture.
It told the story. He pleaded with Dorian to come clean, saying, "Does it not say somewhere, 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow'?"
But in a fit of rage to silence this voice of conscience, Dorian grabbed a knife and killed the artist.
There was now only one thing left for him to do; he took the knife to remove the only visible reminder of his wicked life. But the moment he thrust the blade into the canvas, the portrait returned to its pristine beauty, while Dorian lay stabbed to death on the floor.
The ravages that had marred the picture now so disfigured him that even his servants could no longer recognize him.
What a brilliant illustration of how a soul, though invisible, can nonetheless be tarnished. I wonder, if there were to be a portrait of my soul or your soul, how would it best be depicted? Does not the conscience sting, when we think in these terms? Though we have engineered many ways of avoiding physical consequences, how does one cleanse the soul? Today we find a limitless capacity to raise the question of evil as we see it outside ourselves, but often hold an equal unwillingness to address the evil within us." "
What do we do when we have committed a wrong that we are ashamed of? What can we do with those wrongful deeds that we can’t seem to erase from our consciences? One way that many people deal with guilt is to cover it up.
This can seem almost instinctive at times, as if something inside us says, “Hide it. Forget about it. No one can know.” But this puts us in a very precarious position, for not only are we dealing with guilt, but now we are dealing with the fear of being “found out.”
When we add fear to our feelings of guilt we are adding apprehension to the remorse we are struggling to conceal. Just as a blackmailer is never satisfied, so the one who lives in fear with guilt ends up blackmailing his or her own heart to pay the mind. But the heart is never consoled, for the mind is never sufficiently paid.
Guilt that is concealed seldom stops with the one who harbors that hurt. Sooner or later that pain of fear and guilt is spread to others, particularly to those closest to us. “Victimless” crimes are an illusion, for deceit is a monster that needs constant feeding. It would be foolish for us to think that we can deal with guilt by somehow covering it up.
The moment that we cover our guilt we escalate the tension in our lives by adding the dimension of fear. We may then become people who seem okay on the outside, but inside we are struggling to maintain the facade."
-Ravi Zacharias

Those were words of a philosopher/ Christian apologist I admire - Ravi Zacharias.
[For those who remember seeing a photo entitled "Priceless" in (of all people, the "tattoo-comedian") MENJ's online album, the grey-haired Indian guy in the jacket is the man himself.]
Ravi also said, "Carried to a different level, this same tendency underlies all our national preoccupation with one social or economic crisis after another. No one seems willing to admit that at the heart of our malady is a mangled spirituality."
For a small nation that should by right be striving for unity in pluralism and held fast by the secular spirit and principles of the constitution of 1957, Malaysia is a nation that is struggling silently through a turbulent time of social recronstruction - albeit in the wrong direction.

Indeed, what Ravi said rings very true if we were to reflect on his words against the backdrop of our woes, at the heart of which lies the greed and sectarian politics practised by our political masters. Here we do not have the luxury of "whacking" the usual bogeyman, the Government or BN (aka UMNO Baru).

No - all of them in the opposition too, practice the very same evil by embracing "race or religion" based politics - this has been the curse that has been handed down to us by those who refused to accept and thus betrayed the the ideals that Dato' Onn Jaafar, the Father of UMNO, stood for.
They instead killed every opportunity to build a nation based on "Values and Principles".
They preferred to play the race game that would be a short cut to power consolidated upon those politically "victorious", ie the Muslim Malay race.
That being the case, all the "others" also joined the bandwagon of the most primitive "race/ religion" political game.
YES - This is the curse that we inherited from certain idolised "leaders", who were actually the perpetrators of cardinal sins that would one day spell the doom of this nation (unless it is undone).

Political parties in Malaysia were never forged out of principles of the democracy that they all swore to protect and nurture - they were there simply to fight for the rights and "interests" of specific races/ religions.

As much as I believe that the Hindraf-5 (under the evil ISA now) had legitimate grouses, it is made difficult for me to reconcile myself to their struggle. This is simply becos they seek on the platform of a specific race and religion, which is exclusive in nature.
But of course, I realize that to support their cause is in my very own interest, as it is, in the interest of the nation as a whole. This being the case, I certainly hope "Hindraf" seeks to be more inclusive and address their grouses with other minority communities as well, so as to lend their platform a more "universal" appeal.
Is it "Justice" that they seek? Is it "Justice" for them to fight for only their interests?

Due credit for their resoluteness in capturing the imagination (although in dramatic fashion) and creating the awareness of the "not so subtle" persecution that is perpetrated by "leaders", among at least a certain sector of society. It would be good if Mr. Uthayakumar and Mr. Waythamoorthy could broaden his agenda so as to serve all Malaysians, regardless race, color or creed. For them to deny others their passion and fervour in upholding human rights would be an injustice in itself.
By playing the race and religion card, by restricting the ability of many (less politically "conscious") Malaysians to identify themselves with this very significant struggle for empowerment, freedom of worship and a share of the economic pie, they have played along with the game of divide and rule that is being practiced by the powers that be.

While they went to great lengths to highlight their problems, they have conveniently chosen to neglect those of the other downdrodden masses. Don't the others matter at all in their equation?
I believe that they should, and that a common platform should be sought for all religions and races. Moreover, they have never made a concrete stand on deciding on the leadership factor, for "fear of rejection" - Hindraf shouldn't be ambivalent on such matters when it is obvious that they have been let down by the relevant politicians, as it reflects a conflict of sorts which could be perceived as a "weakness".

Would it not serve Malaysian interests well if our politicians seek to emulate their selfless struggle against injustice under tyrants and religious extremists?
How I wish I could hear the music of politicians shouting out against the subtle persecutions against the all Malaysians be they Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhists or Animists, be they of BN or the Opposition.

But No - they only do it so long as it serves their greedy, sectarian or racist political agenda. Listen to the sound of silence among members of one "party", when rights of the the other is trampled upon - it is so deafening, that you are tempted to doubt the legitimacy of your rights!
They believe that it isn't their struggle, unless it involves their "own people". Politicians fear "breaking ranks" with party bosses, even if it means betraying fellow Malaysians that they have sworn to speak for - all in the interest of "party unity".
How low can politicians go - they prefer to toe the party line and be subservient to "great leaders" and be slaves of the party, rather than stand up for truth and righteousness.

Dear friends, it is a grave sin indeed for one to dance to the tune of divisive and sectarian politics that caters to primitive, selfish and narrow interests of only certain communities. We need to change our minset to support leaders who aren't slaves to the dictatorial party leadership, but to principles of humanity.
For that to happen we need to make a concerted effort to change the mindset of all Malaysians, so as to be able to regard his neighbour as a brother/ sister first - race , religion, beliefs, creed, class and whatever divisive factor shouldn't figure in the equation.
For that to happen, the small-minded "leaders" who bark in Parliament need to realize that all parties need to "overhaul" their constitutions so as to be inclusive, and practice it in word and deed.

Allow me to rephrase G.K Chesterton - "What we need is a Leadership that is not only right where we are right, but right where we are wrong".
Let us make up for the betrayal that our forefathers meted out to the Founding Fathers of the Nation
Let us all discard our insecurities, pride, prejudice and embrace instead principles of humanity, so that we may not live in fear, but in hope.
Let us turn not opt for the same fate as Dorian Gray, who chose to destroy the hideousness of the painting (of himself) that he saw,
and had unwittingly stabbed himself.
Most of you would say that it is just a pipe-dream - maybe so.
But until and unless this can be done, Malaysia is headed for further conflict among the various groups.
This may of course be conveniently averted with the use of "Rule by Draconian laws" by a dictator, wherein every citizen has to give up his/ her rights, in the interest of "maintaining law and order", with the interest of society at large - which is incidently the "Asian Value" that was sold to us by some "great leaders".

"It will not do to cling to the cause and wish the result away. Reality does not play mind games. What is more, to anesthetize the mind in order to abort what comes to birth when wrong ideas are conceived and borne in the womb of culture, will only kill the very life-giving force of the nation that nurtures the idea. We must learn, in the words of one cultural commenter, to live as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves." -Ravi Zacharias


  1. We have been conditioned from small to be a malay, chinese, indian or lain-lain. What to do?

  2. Dear Anonymous,
    "What to do?"
    That's very much like the what the "untouchables" of India once said, isn't it?
    And That is precisely what they (the political masters) want you to say, and be resigned to that "apparent fact of life"!
    We all need to wisen up and stop taking pride in prejudice.
    There is nothing wrong in being what you are - but there's something definitely wrong in being isolationist in attitude and "exclusive in nature".
    Yes - we're all conditioned in one way or other. But we as "higher beings" have something that none other has - the gift of choice.
    To institutionalize the pride/prejudice/"conditioning" is a sin that many of our leaders choose to reinforce for the sake of political mileage.
    Nationhood has no place for Racism/ Religiosity or any form of sectarian politics.
    We need to break out of that mindset.

  3. I agree with you fully that we need to break out of the mindset.
    But there is more to it to effect change, for the better. Our systems and institutions are ossified and not given to reform that even a change of mindset can subsequently consequent in getting disentangled from this undesired embrace. The only way to change is thru the electoral process, and this electoral system is so designed to perpetuate this paralysing embrace. It is clear that the delination of votes doesnt allow for a mindset change when those minds are either out of reach or dont have a mind of their own. Net, it will need a revolution to free us from this curse.

  4. First things first, bro .... and I think we can get there.
    First we need to win the trust of all, enough to regard each other as brother first, by breaking out of this indoctrination/ mindset/ vice grip.
    When tide turns and it rises high enough, only then can the tsunami to wipe out the "divide and rule policies" materialize.
    To prevent it the proponents of this propagated evil would keep trying to drive a wedge between each community and religion, by preventing interaction and creating discord.
    If you think about it - that is what has been happening, and it has succeeded in it's strangle-hold on your liberties (most of it without even you realizing it due to the economic feelgood factor) due to complacency, fear and apathy.
    Read the earlier post on A Malaysian Disease of Fear and Apathy.

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