Bad moon rising (Version 1)

Happy New Year! My column is up at The Malay Mail Online, but it is a second version. The first one was politely turned away because of its content. I’m putting it up here. For the eight people who read my blog. 🙂



A top view of Kuala Krai at the height of December 2014's flooding
A top view of Kuala Krai at the height of December 2014’s flooding

JAN 9 — My mom used to say that you should marry if you have trouble in life. I’d reply that the trouble would still be there, married or not. She’d say sure, but trouble will seem far more tolerable with the support of a loving wife.

I’m not sure Najib Razak — like me — is altogether on board with that wisdom right now. His advisers might even whisper to each other — while their jet plane taxies to the private hangar — that the prime minister probably would be better off not married in the present climate.

It’s been that kind of a week for him. Someone get him a Frappuccino, poor devil.

For the Umno president is experiencing a personal purgatory of “Where in the world is Najib Razak’s private jet?” Indianapolis, New York, London, Dubai and Bangkok are apparently places the prime minister did not manage to land at over the Christmas holidays, but somehow his plane did. And within and around that continuing fissure, when he tries to explain himself and his plane, will the immediate future of the prime minister be determined.

The prime minister arrives!
The prime minister arrives!

If that wasn’t enough — to be seen as a Carmen Sandiego redux — he get struck by E.Coli. Because rushing home from Hawaii, he waded in all the flood water Kelantan could muster to make up for lost time and photo ops. Unfortunately for him, different from ponds on golf courses sewer infested filth sludge can do a number on you. It can happen to the best of us, but the irony is not lost that many Malaysians on social media are mesmerised with the “Coli” word out of mispronunciation and therefore “E” holding a much more suggestive value because of it.

[Coli in Malay (as in cho-lee) refers to a bra, which makes the E unnecessary to be explained]

They found Carmen Sandiego already by the way. Our heart goes to the prime minister with E.Coli — it troubles me too that so many Malaysians online are with malicious intent mispronouncing the ailment to coincide with another Malaysian preoccupation.

Some are starting to kid that he might be the first prime minister to be laughed out of office.

Screw petrol prices, you can't float into a kiosk in Kuala Krai.
Screw petrol prices, you can’t float into a kiosk in Kuala Krai.

Related to the flooding, and not Najib for his sake, selfies have become double-edged swords in the rescue efforts all over the country. While thousands of Malaysians have headed over to help their brethren in the flood-fraught states, some — a real minority but substantial enough to cause traffic jams — have opted for disaster tourism. The ethos being “I was here”, rather than “let’s help”, and coupled with “I need the photo to prove it” has become too irresistible. Come on, let’s be fair, it’s not easy to switch off the selfie button. Classic case of Klang Valley couples upset there was nothing on TV on a Saturday night and decided to take a drive to Kuala Krai to experience the sights and sounds with their new ASUS cameraphone.

Plus they actually keep the attention on the flood situation, even if they are slightly self-involved.

I rather have benign Malaysian taking selfies besides flooded homes than say a disconnected Malaysian taking selfies in a Bangkok department store.

Someone lost a school debate

It has to crack anyone up. Top exec leaves in a huff controversial fund with huge implications on the Malaysian economy, and we are made to time travel to the early 90s boarding school scene.

In the hot seat, former RMC debater. There is a reason why school's debating in the past was about absolutes.
In the hot seat, former RMC debater. There is a reason why school’s debating in the past was about absolutes.

Hazem Rahman resigns as CEO of 1MDB with instant effect and the top brass replace him on the spot with Arul Kanda Kandasamy. A VI (Victoria Institution) boy resigns and a RMC (Royal Military College) boy replaces him. A MCKK (Malay College Kuala Kangsar) boy — opposition whistleblower extraordinaire and MP Rafizi Ramli — cautions about the move because Arul used to have good communication skills as a schoolboy debater in the inter-boarding school competition. Everyone studied in the United Kingdom.

And I get booed when I say that elitism reigns in Malaysian power structures.

How about giving a leg up to the boys and girls from Kepong’s Raja Ali and Klang’s Raja Mahadi? #JustSaying

Still, 1MDB is about to be overcooked and all eyes are on all the players, and even second stringers.

But not far from the maddening crowd, our home minister is smashing up an arsenic-filled dish, for himself.

Here’s the story.

That's what friends are for! I guess Zahid Hamidi is a real fan of Dionne Warwick fan
That’s what friends are for! I guess Zahid Hamidi is a real fan of Dionne Warwick fan

A Malaysian bases himself in Hong Kong and runs a business in Macau. So far, nothing special. He’s a gambling kingpin according to many, has gambling operations in the island and is involved with football betting. A bit like my local hokkien mee stall owner, he gives good odds and doesn’t fail to collect despite being illegal. Paul Phua, that’s his name, gets arrested in the United States because it’s illegal. Paul seemingly has less trouble in Hong Kong because they say he’s with the triad, the 14K Triad — which I am assuming is far more polished than the 13K Triad (I don’t have stock triad jokes).

Anyhow, this sounds like a random story, except when Paul Phua gets arrested and charged in Las Vegas for illegal football betting out of the blue, the Malaysian Home Minister Zahid Hamidi writes a note to vouch for him.

I don’t know. It’s nice when you have friends from afar. But I wonder if the home minister would write an official letter backing me the next time I organise illegal gaming in countries 20,000 miles away.

Will you Zahid Hamidi?

Moderately moderate

Finally, to the Johnny come lately.

In the liberal circles the group of 25, and their supporters are seemingly the best thing since sliced bread.

I want change, so I have a soft spot for those willing to rock the boat. But this lot?

We are the one and only, nobody can be like us! (Reworking the Chesney Hawkes song these retirees)
We are the one and only, nobody can be like us! (Reworking the Chesney Hawkes song these retirees)

What I get from the whole play is that they are dignified members of a dignified class who have always acted well. But since there are too many shenanigans by the undignified, they are bent on returning our collective dignity by praising moderation. You know, say this and that about PERKASA and ISMA. Seriously you don’t need to have been a diplomat for 30 years to piss on them, PERKASA and ISMA write their own comedy.

G25 are meeting everyone, the prime minister, ex-prime ministers, religionists and owners of pink Cadillacs to convince them that moderation is the answer.

I’m in shock and awe.

The thing is moderation is two steps to the left and two steps to the right, and to never step on the cake. It is as arbitrary as it gets. How about this instead? Don’t argue about moderation, argue about principle, and defend it even if it hurts you. That’s what the country needs now.

If you want the cheeky, one would ask, where were all these senior retired civil servants during all those years these things we bemoan today were being implemented?

Loyal and obedient servants of the state. Civil servants run the country, and if the politicians got their way for decades then what were the civil servants, the senior ones, doing then? Standing up or standing out of the way?

I applaud them for sticking their necks out today, but don’t expect others to follow your lead. You kept quiet then, because you needed to get little Mikey and Tina to uni and pay the mortgage for the Damansara Heights home. And now retired the conscience acting up?

It’s still raining

This is just the first work week. If it stays like this people might just cancel their Astro subscription and watch the political drama playing out in high dimension.

While hogging the limelight is fun, and surviving political attacks a necessity, somewhere between these preoccupations ideas that give long term gains are desperately wanted.

The economy is contracting for sure and the value of the country’s human capital is not on the up and up.

Real solutions are not sexy, but really, were they ever expected to be? But if you don’t know or don’t care, it might be the time to get married.



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