Another slogan will do nothing to cure Malaysia of its ills

Malaysia’s freefall into the rabbit hole of silliness continues, and it’s painful to watch.

From the endless sloganeering that rings empty and hollow, to the downright ridiculous, Cro-Magnon drivel that flows freely and effortlessly from the mouths of our ‘leaders’, there seems to be no light in sight at the end of this embarrassing tunnel.

On Oct 23, I watched with feigned pride as another prime minister launched yet another slogan, in another strobe-lit hall, filled with yet another adulating crowd, espousing the virtues of another concept – his concept – of what Malaysia should be, ad nauseam.

I’ve lost count of the number of slogans Malaysians have had to endure over the years. From ‘Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah’, to ‘1Malaysia’, to ‘Kerajaan Prihatin’, and now, ‘Keluarga Malaysia’.

For a time at least, ‘Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah’, worked. These days, with the rampant corruption and abuse of power, an ever-growing chasm between the privileged elites and the huddled masses, and politicians completely disconnected from the very people they have sworn to serve, another slogan is the last thing we need.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (or ‘Daddy Bree’ as I like call him, in keeping with his philosophy), launched his idea of a ‘Malaysian Family’, with all the wonderful trimmings that come with it, including compassion, love for one another, inclusivity, togetherness, and gratitude.

I’m going out on a limb here and guess that cosmetics entrepreneur Muhammad Sajjad Kamaruz Zaman or Sajad, never got that memo. Now holed up in Sydney, Australia, Muhammad Sajjad had been granted asylum, after alleging that he had been unfairly persecuted by Malaysian authorities. The latest bombshell was that religious officers had groped him during questioning in January.

Ismail Sabri said he went with ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ because the concept of a family institution “always played a role in preserving religion, ensuring safety and protecting the dignity and care for the wellbeing of its members”.

What joy. Unfortunately, the prime minister probably forgot that most families can be quite dysfunctional. Bat-poo crazy, even.

Some may have high-achievers that are the bane of the rest of the not-so-blessed. Then, there’s that no-good cousin brother who flicks cash, jewellery, and timber and sand concessions at the family Christmas dinner when everybody else is busy carving the turkey.

Or that pervy, misogynistic uncle, who looks at you, queer.

And then there’s that one fella whose idea of reality is so completely disconnected from everyone else’s that you wondered if he fell off the stupid tree and hit every single twig and branch on the way down.

Speaking of trees, trees are bad for internet signals that have a tough time punching through the thick, dense, and sometimes, downright almost impenetrable layers of leaves, if you believe our Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa.

According to the national news agency Bernama, Annuar attributed the poor internet reception in Kampung Seri Kesinai in Padang Besar, Perlis, to the Earth’s topography and those damned, pesky trees.

If I were an illegal logger or quarry operator, I’d be sending a good-sized family hamper to the good minister’s office, right about now, with a ‘Thank you’ note.

This is not the first time trees and the internet have grabbed the headlines. In June 2020, university student Veveonah Mosibin, then 18, went out on a limb to make sure she had a good internet connection to sit for her online exams. Oddly, the second-best spot for her 3G connection happened to be atop a tree.

Veveonah, from Kampung Sabanalang Pitas, had prepared for her tests a fortnight previously by building a small shelter on a hill where 3G reception for the area was good. On the day of the exam, however, she found that her hut had blown down. Thank god for the trees then, eh?

My father was a fair and quiet man. But when he spoke, you’d better be paying attention. Sometimes, when trying to get through the dense layers of my thick, fat skull, words would fail him. This was when he would ‘make things clearer’ for me, by resorting to more ‘novel’ ways of persuasion.

‘Daddy Bree’ would be wise to follow the same approach. The 100-day KPI scoresheet is on every rakyat’s mind, and right now, in his Cabinet at least, it seems that foolishness is just as equally catching as Covid-19.

The notion of ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ sounds just like the tonic this country badly needs, but as Carl Gustav Jung once said; “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do”.

If he does not keep his Cabinet ministers in check, they could very well be the proverbial albatross that hangs around his neck.

And enough with the slogans, already.

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