Friday, September 11, 2009

An Indonesian reminder

The recent anti-Malaysian events in the Menteng district of Jakarta should serve as a stark reminder that Malaysians have more in common with each other than with non-Malaysians within the archipelagic islands that dot the South China Sea.

Ask any indigenous person from the Orang Asli in the Peninsular, to the Penans in Sarawak, to the Aborigines in the Australian Outback, to the Native American, about where and what "home" is and you will receive the same answer. It's the physical space where we live most of our lives that define WHO we are. It is the neighbourhood where we live that defines us. It is the types of food that we eat, from recipes created and evolved from all the different races, cultures and faiths of the Malaysian people, that defines who we are. It is the recognition of familiar geography and terrain from past experiences - the spot where we crashed our bicycle - where the irate neighbourhood dog chased us - where we stole the first kiss - where we flew kites - these experiences are rooted in the place and, they define who we are. Well, if you don't already get it, my point is that a Malay Malaysian may have more in common with a Chinese Malaysian and an Indian Malaysian than he or she has with an Indonesian or Filipino because of common life experiences.

The puzzling thing is that our peculiar Malaysian brand of communal politics thrives on magnifying the things that separate us than the things that we have in common. This is something all Malaysian political leaders need to admit. You are killing the nation.

The angry Indonesians in the Menteng district were looking for Malaysians, not Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Kelabits, Ibans or any specific ethnic person. They were looking for Malaysians (and, I need to give a "shout out" to my bro satD - Stay safe, bro. I hope the people in your neck of the woods are not going ape shit, if you'll pardon the pun).

Merdeka fortnight is from 31st August to 16th September
Maybe it is the political struggle in the aftermath of the General Elections of March 8, 2008. Maybe it is the economic challenges. Maybe its A(H1N1). Maybe Rais Yatim is too busy finding ways and means to narrow the Information Superhighway to 1kbps. But, I was and, am still, very disappointed with the Merdeka non-celebrations of 2009.

There was hardly a whimper from any Malaysian political leader of any stripe for the Jalur Gemilang to be hoisted.

And, within less than 24-hours from 31st August the few Jalur Gemilang that were put up were quickly taken down.

What happened to 16th September, my Malaysian brothers and sisters?

And, particularly to those from BN, didn't March 8, 2008, show that Sabah and Sarawak is your "fixed deposit"? I would have thought that to preserve your "drawdown" rights, you would want to make a timely reminder to our brothers and sisters in Sabah and Sarawak that Kita serumpun. But, apparently not.

I will have to say that it is not too late. There are still 5 days to 16th September. There still time to book the Padang Merdeka in Kuching for flag-raising on 16th September before Dominique Ng gets there!!! But, then again, maybe not...

The strategy deployed by the Malaysian leaders in 1988 (in the aftermath of the death of UMNO tulen and the emasculation of the Judiciary), was a particularly good one. It was based on one key public relations programme which I call, the "when-in-doubt- wave-the-flag" strategy. And, the key was only one simple word, "SETIA".

I could only find Siti Nurhaliza's version on Youtube (too lazy to look). But many will recall the multiracial ensemble that sang on the television every night.

The Setia song and the video that accompanied Negaraku when the television stations were shutting down for the night (yes, in the 80s there was no Astro and 24-hour television) provided a powerful and resonant audio-visual imagery that swelled the chest (and, buxom bosoms...regardless of gender) of many Malaysians. I'm no political scientist nor sociologist and, I therefore, cannot say for certain the extent to which the Setia strategy tilted the balance of the 1990 General Elections in favour of BN (despite a spirited fight by the Opposition parties that included Semangat 46). But, I am certain that the Setia strategy deserved credit in getting Malaysians to "stay the course". And, the Information Minister at the time was Tok Mat (Datuk Mohamad Rahmat). That was a good strategy.

BN will do well to remember, the "when-in-doubt-wave-the-flag" strategy because when Malaysians wave the flag, it is more than certain that the positive feeling is directed towards Putrajaya and, by association, the occupants thereof (pardon the legalese). Now, that's a thought.


Anonymous said...

Just type FRANCISCA PETER setia and there it is.

satD said...

Dear bro de minimis...

things are all OK....folks in KL need to chill out a wee bit...

the vast majority of Indonesian find this whole episode as another crappy opportunistic charade done by attention seekers in the parliment..triggering the "preman"/gangster jalanan to set up shop to make a quick buck....

i can assure u that things are fine out here in JKT....

take care bro

de minimis said...

Anon: 11:11


bro satD

Good to hear from you, bro. Yes, everyone needs to take a massive dose of chill pills.