Screw history, selfies are forever

No-care - Mahathir
Actually, the real action was on five metres left of this shot. (Candidates for the Langkawi parliamentary contest, at the Langkawi Land and District Office, April 28, 2018)

It was quite the moment.

Its actor were slated to appear on a makeshift stage, just outside the front gate of the government building.

For hours, both local and international news agencies were on ready mode, waiting to capture the impossible, and then rushed to news-desks around the world. An ex-prime minister, returns to a prized island built on patronage, to contest its parliamentary race as presumptive leader of the main opposition Pakatan Harapan. The pixmen were on edge, as it is the nightmare scenario for visual artists, to miss that second which matters.

The supporters have been waiting outside the Langkawi Land and District Office long before the candidates were ushered into it in the morning, and for almost three hours they been waiting, sweltering under the unforgiving sun.

And the climax was preceded by a hush, followed by a cacophony of cameramen clicks.

However, the five girls just left of the stage stole the scene for me. They told me about why things are far from OK in the country.

Because they were taking selfies, wefies and group pics while history was unfolding five metres away. Not a quick take when no one was looking. They went on for minutes, completely disinterested by distractions like election announcements.

Shockingly, they were there as Election Commission (EC) staff and adorned specially ordered business dresses, to assure people that they were very serious people doing something quite serious.

no-care-bn fans
BN supporters blocked off from getting too close to the stage.

Except they took away the gloss of their importance by their rashness to prioritise their Instagram posts instead. Right next to the media and in the view of all the party supporters, and they get a great view of them because police, civil defence and other officials have cleared a sufficient buffer zone between the proceedings and the gathered crowd.

What strikes me, the more I think about it, is that they, the selfie-girls, have quite a different view of their roles.

It might be wholly unclear to them, they are entrusted with the future of the country. More, so much more critical is the reality that these civil servants see elections as chores and with no significance to them or the country.

They can’t feel the situation nor relate to it.

It’s just another official function, where they have to show up to work on a weekend, but with the upside of getting tailor-made suits.

It sends chills down by spine to be confronted with this evidence that the state of political apathy in the country is reaching epidemic levels. If Mahathir poised on a stage for either a marker for his promotion again to the post of prime minister, or to remind detractors how far the mighty have fallen as a precursor to an embarrassing election defeat, no person even with a cursory interest in Malaysian politics would fail to look up at the scene and be arrested by it.

Yet, for those five employees of the state, they rather take pictures of themselves. Trading places, asking each other to help complete a roster of great snaps.

Whatever the outcome of this election may be, it is high time we acknowledge that we have become too good at ensuring every next generation cares less and less about politics and nation building.

They would had a great view of the selfie session.


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