Friday, May 16, 2008


Two terrible tragedies in the space of a little more than a week - the cyclone Nargis that hit Burma and the 7.9 earthquake that rocked Sichuan, China has shattered the lives of millions living in the two countries, causing massive damage - physical, economical, social and untold others. While one country is scrambling to save lives using every means available, the other seems determined to condemn its own people to a genocide, owing to a paranoia over its own inabilities and its suspicions to foreign aid. Two tragedies, two different reactions. Two sets of rulers, two sets of solutions.

It speaks a lot for the kind of people we elect (or are coerced, as in Burma's case) into power. Sometimes, the very act of electing the wrong person into Office is in itself a tragedy. A closer look at the Malaysian situation here will show the same result. Look at who's in power now. A soundly trashed BN coalition, with no real leader on board. Worse, with seemingly no one with the right credentials required, waiting in the wings.

And so we witness a tragicomedy being played out in the local political arena. A "wayang kulit" - shadow play, to put it bluntly. It's everybody for himself (and herself). The gravy train has derailed, taking away much of the fat that has for so long fed its patrons. For these, its now just plain rice without the "curry". Tasteless. And what do desperate people do in desperate situations? They create a diversion. Stage a "wayang kulit" - a shadow play with equally shadowy figures! - with all the props, half truths, the wannabee actors, stooges and of course, an unwitting victim or victims. And, while in the process, Use the legal system, Use the media, Use the bystander, Use anyone and anything. Use and Abuse - religion, race, royalty, commoner, political parties, national unity, the Constitution, etc. etc. The classic Machiavellian principle - in the arena of power the end justifies the means. This is the tragedy.

The real tragedy is that this comedy of errors is not going to end anytime soon. This is not a one night only show. This may yet turn into a soap opera. Forget the Hindi dramas on Astro. Forget the South American telenovelas on TV 3. The real action is here. There's a power vacuum out there. There's a power struggle going on within the ruling coalition. There are factions within themselves. While on the outside, there's the Anwar factor and the Pakatan Rakyat, the Sabah voices making enough noises, the Altantuya case hanging over certain heads, the misnomer that the National Service program seems to have become, the continuing ISA detention and withholding of medical treatment for detainees. These are just the tip of the iceberg that surround the players now. The wayang continues, day after day, as long as the actors are willing to play their roles. Until the director calls Cut!

The end will come as indeed any play would. The curtain will have to come down. And when it does, I'll be glad to see these "actors and actresses" not just go - but go the way of the dodo. And, the sooner the better. Good riddance to bad rubbish. This country deserves better.