Doublethink is our ideology

JANUARY 3 — I’m a danger to every other Malaysian, if you followed the speeches at the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s (PPBM) Annual General Meeting last weekend. Apparently, half the country needs to be protected from people like me.

One in two, more so in Kuala Terengganu, that’s proper gangster!

Ok, fine, I’m not the finest sample of a docile creature or upstanding member of society, so I’ll rephrase that, in case you’re already sold on my threat-level.

Let’s use my cousin, Loga, instead. He offers family entertainment — music machines, musicians and singers — for weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. 

He’s been doing it for a long time and is modestly successful, I’m going to assume further, his mild-mannered nature lends to his appeal to customers.

So Loga, the minor entrepreneur from Ampang Tasik, is a threat to many Malaysians. I’d like to see that movie made. Loga, have tabla will murder.

What did they say at this amazing PPBM powwow, the searing antithesis of Woodstock love?

Pakatan Harapan good, Barisan Nasional (BN) bad. We, awesome, Umno decayed. Umno defectors coming our way are clean, Umno remnants in and outside MACC lock-ups are rubbish. Other Pakatan parties tolerant and progressive, other BN parties out of touch and support. Mahathir stay on till the GE, Anwar well, wait-lah.

And the pivot for this column, PPBM bosses shouted at the top of the mountain, Malays need protection; to the rest of Malaysia, we don’t hate you, really.

Cower on, cower on, with fear in your hearts

I struggle to reconcile the last bit.

Malays, more than half the population require protection, more protection actually than all other Malaysians.

Protection from who?

Not China’s liberation army standing on the Spratly Island rocks or the Abu Sayaf kidnappers or the Straits of Malacca marauders, or pesky Singaporeans leaning on our airspace before landing on their sardine-can island. 

We have the military and coastal patrols for those. Also, the foreign minister uses diplomatic channels for positive outcomes. All clear then on that?

How about world trade decimating economies, exploiting access to services and labour markets and keeping onion prices in Econsave low? No worries, the cavalry is here.

The trade minister sends out our products and services to the world and pores over trade deals with commerce lawyers. TPPA, anyone? The economics minister plans our growth, matches potential to up efficiency or more appropriately, enlarges the rakyat’s pie. 

If both fail, there’s the prime minister to swear indiscriminately at the APEC Summit, in his second run as boss he looks to have free rein to piss all and sundry.

Surely, that’s adequate cover, no?

If the fear was more immediate, like home burglary or as a convenience store employee being confronted by a machete-wielding junkie wanting prepaid tops, there is no protection possible, but a CCTV would be useful. Helps the police after the fact, to apprehend the rogues.

So, if it’s not the world at large, and not themselves, that leaves only one threat, other Malaysians.

The enemy within

PPBM proposes to protect one group of Malaysians from other Malaysians. Its leadership claims it’s imperative. It makes no sense, until the other part of the deal is disclosed. They’ll personally handle the protection tasks. Obviously, a suitable service fee is necessary.

Whether in the form of contracts or elevation to senior posts, it must be done, so the protecting can go on unhindered. Imagine an hour without protection, then another hour. If this goes on, it will eventually will be many, many hours where Malays are left unprotected all across the Malaysian Federation.

Hours, if kept unchecked become days. Who knows where this will end?

Of course, the racketeers were unhappy when one within their fold, one who is very senior, had issues with transacting protection. The Armada head may have seen one two many American gangster films, even if PPBM division heads insist they are no Capone. 

They see themselves as service deliverers, and for that they need a personal ATM. Caterers don’t live on goodwill and Arabian tents don’t mysteriously peg themselves for a majlis.

Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s proposal that PPBM turns altruistic powered by patriotism awash with race love was laughed off the park. At the time of writing, ex-Umno old guards inside PPBM were still struggling to contain their mirth, with many not ruling outright medical attention.

So here we are, 2019.

The spectre of Umno remains, regardless of name.

The unitary argument is worshipped. Since Umno has successfully hatched fear deep inside the Malay psyche, augmented by state-controlled education and media, the only rational thing to do is to leverage it, not fight it.

“Oh, right wing patriot, lessen your conscience when speaking ill of your fellow Malaysians by muttering as an afterthought that the fear you breed does not reduce your personal commitment to the unity of our people.”

Or in George Orwell’s immortal words in 1984: “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

The mind-numbing reality where you peddle two opposing views as your creed should not upset you, for it is far easier to abandon intellectual rigour in your thoughts. 

Let it go, all the festering reason brought to you by an ever-globalised planet, let reason be that foreign thing our trade minister puts in the restricted list for imports.

The bogeymen

This is not to evade cruel truths which provide ammunition to PPBM’s rank and file.

There are racist acts, by Non-Malays to Malays. A mountain of acts. From job discriminations to all kinds of ways to getting a leg up unfairly. The counter narrative is they were forced to be racist because the system is racist.

How they need each other. To be each other’s bogeyman.

The far right from both ends use the other as justification for their outmoded ways. They leave those bridging a new path caught up in the crossfire of tribalism.

Syed Saddiq seems to want to alter things from the inside. I fear for his soul, for he has shown signs recently of being overwhelmed by the dogmatic manacles of his chosen party.

He’ll likely succumb, as many have before.

For moral leadership and the far-right are incompatible.

Three days of a convention and PPBM no different from Umno in that all of it can be reduced to a line: Being a race champion is wonderful.

I weep for my country, and for my countrymen who have to fear me for how I look.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.