This is an interesting piece in the NST, exposing the hypocrisy and double standards in all of us.
KOH LAY CHIN: Malaysia a land of irony and incongruity
IT'S a tragic but fascinating story that is now showcasing the ironies and contractions of politics and public opinion. When former South Korean president Roh Moo-Hyun committed suicide recently over a broadening corruption scandal, he was transformed overnight from leader tainted by graft to honourable man wronged by political enemies. Videos of his funeral have the overwhelming sound of South Koreans weeping loudly in crowds, the outpouring of grief unmistakable.
We see the nation mourning and grappling with the confusion and ironies over justice, corruption and public image.
Malaysia has its fair share of contradictions too.
Are we staunchly against the Internal Security Act, calling for its abolition or are we more agreeable to it when a Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist named Mas Selamat is put under its fangs? There was hardly a peep from any quarter protesting his arrest under the draconian law, so it must have been deemed publicly justifiable.
It must have been galling for pro-Nizar supporters when the Kuala Lumpur High Court had decided he was the rightful Perak menteri besar, and they went about celebrating the rule of law, only to have it turned around by the Court of Appeal. But do we only knock court decisions and government policies when they do not favour us?
Cynics and oppositionists would probably argue that anything to do with the ruling power or perceived to be linked to it "never favours us".
So if people say "Run RPK, Run", telling blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin (who had been twice detained under ISA) to stand up for justice by running away from our courts, would we also be supportive if Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo's supporters, for example, tell the former Selangor menteri besar to run from inquiries into the disbursement of Selangor funds?
There would be the expected arguments, of course, over their personalities and character, over who is actually doing the judging, and who is "truly" right and wrong. But how does anyone really know what is truth, what is fiction, or a mishmash of both?
Do we suffer from selective criticism and combativeness?
Perhaps it is that we have become so clouded in partisanship, and used to people labelling us as either black or white. As to our principles and the stands we take, sometimes it would seem we are at twos about what we want as well.
We don't want foreign workers crowding our shores but we know we still want them at our mamak stalls and taking care of our children. We hate the traffic and environmental degradation but give us more cars, and make them cheap.
We hate corruption, but try to find jalan keluar atau masuk (a way out or in) when it comes to roadblocks or business transactions. We want to obey our royalty, but we don't. We want the best brains to lead our administrations and corporations but woe betide them if they are from Cambridge or Oxford. We want to be recognised in order of merit first, but if lineage or family ties come in the picture we want you out. On the argument of needs versus merit, what reactions await if a rich kid who scores all 17 1As gets the scholarship, rather than the poor student who scores 13 1As.
During his tenure as Education Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had said he really saw how difficult and divisive a subject like education could be to Malaysians. Even as people were crying out for one unitary school system, communalists were fighting for their own schools and rights.
Even the most 1Malaysia-minded and progressive friend I know, a Chinese, paused when asked if he would be okay if we were to abolish all Chinese schools.
"Just Mandarin classes in the national schools, how about that? We make it all the same for everyone," I suggested.
There were a few seconds of confusion on his face, before carefully answering, "Well I guess, that would have to be the case." But, he continued, "Not many will like that."
Those five words are an understatement.
The Education Ministry throughout the decades has failed us, many Malaysians are quick to lambast. But if put in the hot seat, would they face the Malay nationalists, the Chinese educationists, the Hindraf-minded Indian activists and tell them "No more communal demands and battles?"
We love the "salad bowl" side of our Malaysian life, so how do we become more "melting pot"? What do we actually want?
Navigating through these thorny issues is what Malaysia has been doing for decades, and we have had our steady wins and losses. If Malaysians can even argue about 1Malaysia and what it means, it just seems that as we are putting out small fires all over the place we are now as confused and quarrelsome as ever about the bigger picture. There is only one thing that remains consistent throughout: that Malaysia is a land of irony and incongruity. But we sure do keep trying.