How to stop millennials from beating up Malaysian politicians

July 22 — They are relentless, they truly are.

The subject being millennials and their objections to all things politically incorrect.

It fascinates to know that millennials coincide with Mahathir Mohamad’s tenure (1981-2003), such that they can readily be called Mahathir Babies.

To be honest, they even frighten me. 

For, I am one bad tweet away from being beaten like a piñata for tweeting the untweetable.

But mortals like myself fade into obscurity when compared to millennials’ special love for politicians in power. The politicians out of power better be careful, their current support can turn when in power.

Anyway, these millennials' attack of the government, does it yield results?

Before, this was not even a question.

Before, people labelled criticism as Bangsar hubris, nothing more. A type of upper-class snootiness which lacks traction except among the urban deluded.

True? To determine this we have to step back to 2020.

The first lockdown started three weeks after the Pakatan Harapan government collapsed in 2020.

But at this point, as before, the Mahathir Babies stayed out of politics.

Let’s describe these babies.

They grew up in working- or middle-class homes in the 80s and 90s, those with enough were indulged by their parents.

They endured public schools.  Aware it controlled them but opted to manage the situation rather than embrace it.

After school, they looked for work and joy while mentally staying away from the system — political parties, Parliament, budgetary expansions, taxation for example — which they felt was mental.

Benci politik was short for “we eat the sausage, don’t want to know how it is made, and stay the cekodok away from me!” They'd rather read journal reports than watch Parliamentary proceedings. 

A Malaysian flag flies outside the Prime Minister’s Office, in Putrajaya, September 24, 2020. — Reuters pic
A Malaysian flag flies outside the Prime Minister’s Office, in Putrajaya, September 24, 2020. — Reuters pic

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Even in university, the vast majority stayed far away from student council (Majlis Perwakilan Pelajar) which acted only as an annual popularity contest with no substantive consequence to students.

Secretly, they hoped that they — and obviously the Generation Z to follow — can live happily ever after without the bother of politics.

Which was OK for Malaysian life till the virus.

Which was the double whammy. They were forced to expect a government of interlopers under attack to lead the fight against a global pandemic. To be politically uncertain while defeating an unprecedented enemy.

How did that pan out?

Not so well, in fact with no resolve.

Which upset millions of unemployed graduates.

Generations of Malaysians who diligently evaded politics, found politics taking a huge dump on them.

The punishment

The pandemic forced the government’s hands and they reacted.

“Do not go to school or university, do not go to work, do not collect RM200, go directly home and stay there!”

Which the masses in turn said in the profoundest way possible, “What the hell!?”

Followed by, “Can meh?”

And the stragglers dragging their feet before locking themselves in murmur, “You only announce public holidays what!”

But in everyone’s heart there was a realisation. Politics was real and it affected real life. Even the most prudish felt more than a bit penetrated.

Data floated easily.

Covid-19 cases, clusters, reports plus WHO — who the hell are WHO? — data and releases crowded everything else out of WhatsApp groups.

It dawned upon the people how politicians perform, how they act and yes, lead, will determine when or even if regular life resumes. The time they realised politicians should not be ignored if they care about their respective lives.

When the patience ran out

The first lockdown was epic. Malaysians listened and shut up. There was a belief if everyone, meaning everyone, stood still long enough, the disease and its problems would evaporate. Role models for the rest of the world on how to comply.

It appeared to work, people went back to work and school, and then not. Start, stop, different rules for different folks, this and that, state by state, week by week, announcement after announcement, and, and, it sucked too much.

It dawned upon all that obliging the leaders was not the panacea. The economic shift forced food delivery as a viable career path much to society's consternation.

We are coming after you!

That’s the what, which is fun and tragic at the same time.

Why tragic?

Imagine being the Turkish tourist guide who had 300 Instagram followers waking up to 3,000 comments on his visual post with our international trade minister.

Azmin Ali’s social media team — dude, Azmin is not reading his messages and neither is a real Nigerian prince emailing you his bank account details — were tormented daily, and had to shut down the comment section.

Though Azmin, or Annuar Musa or Adham Baba, refuse to look at the various memes, posts, songs and raps about them, their families and friends end up doing so. The politicians can delegate their electronic presence but their millennial kids would be damned to be kept away from their devices. Once plugged in, it’s all data, baby.

The content also somewhat insulates the population from the misery of perpetual lockdowns. Schadenfreude served as a space-age blaster. To feel that we the people are giving them pain — even if illusory. 

There are songs where no one is spared, no one.

The thing about the Internet is that it stays there forever, or at least till mankind finds a way to blow itself into extinction or the stone age.

The solution

The thing to remember about dams breaking, they do not compromise. The collateral damage is painful, though.

But how else was it ever going to happen?

This rubbish spouted by our politicians for decades, seamless change?

Sidebar.

This for the sillier Pakatan politicians throughout  2018-2020. Cannot go on for 10 years prior that the system is incontrovertibly broken and heading to the garbage heap and when it's your turn to lead say small tweaks will get the country back on track, including a revisit of the national automobile policy.

Back to normal transmission.

Globally when younger people react they are not going to move based on a detailed spreadsheet, they just react.  Ask Bojo or The Donald.

And for Malaysia’s young, bottled up emotions continue to explode.

How to curtail these libellous torrents of abuse, streaming out from all platforms possible, shared more on WhatsApp than Telegram?

Cannot actually

This one goes the full nine yards.

Much of it is over the top, but the audience decides suitability.

My only tip for the politicians. If the content is hard to decipher, ask your kids or your grandkids. Short version, you suck.

Sorry, cannot help. And the misleading title. That’s a clickbait, YB. They use that a lot to make people who would otherwise not examine the content. Neat, eh? Enjoy the cricket bat splinters.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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