Sunday, 24 February 2008

What's Dear to the Malaysian Heart

Malaysia Today (unpublished Brave New World)
08 January 2008

It would appear that sexual indiscretion is a concept that repulses us on a basic level whereas financial misdeeds are too distant, too impersonal, for the same kind of righteousness to flare."


I’ve really got to thank Chua Soi Lek. The number of jokes that have been zipping around for the past week or so has been amazing. My personal favourite is about the new Ministry of Health warning on packets of contraceptives. Brilliant stuff (e-mail me if you haven’t heard it).

Personally, I could not care less that he has resigned. After all Barisan Nasional politicians are not exactly an endangered species. There are loads of them lurking about and to replace one is not a problem. Furthermore, they look and behave very much like each other in my opinion. Rather like zebras.

It’s funny though that it takes a lurid video to make this resignation happen (incidentally, I haven’t seen said video, primarily because the sight of middle aged men getting it on is likely to give me nightmares). It appears that sex scandals are the thing to get politicians into serious trouble.

I mean outrageous mismanagement of public funds like the Port Klang Free Zone fiasco, where land worth 95 million ringgit in 1999 was bought in 2002 by the Port Klang Authority, a government agency, for 1.08 billion, seems to have been forgotten. Sure there was a cursory investigation by the Public Accounts Committee, but as yet there is no answer to the basic question of how land can jump ten times in price over three years, and how the PKA can be so imprudent as to pay that price. The PKA has been chaired by MCA politicians for almost twenty years. But since they all have kept their pants on or at least have not been video taped with their pants off, no heads rolled.

It is the same overseas too. Bill Clinton was impeached because he had a thing for girls with big hair (which reminds me of my Canadian African pal who said Clinton had such bad taste in women that if he were to put on a big wig, Bill would hit on him too). And yet when George W Bush lied to the nation about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, sending the nation to war causing the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, nothing happened to him. Semen stains on an intern’s dress obviously carry more weight than blood on a president’s hands.

What is it about people that something as petty as sex gets them all hot and bothered? Sorry, let me rephrase that. Why does sordid sex get people all angry and righteous when other types of scandals don’t? At least not to the point that politicians lose their job. Our Puritanism seems to be reserved for the squalid as opposed to the kinds off issues which affect us all, like the less titillating matter of the PKFZ.

Perhaps we are only able to feel upset over an issue when it is something we can understand on a gut level as opposed to a more intellectual level. If this is the case, it would appear that sexual indiscretion is a concept that repulses us on a basic level whereas financial misdeeds are too distant, too impersonal, for the same kind of righteousness to flare.

Shouldn’t public matters be more of a concern than private matters? I appreciate the argument that Chua is setting a bad example to our youth and all that, although because I am not his wife, I frankly can’t be bothered about what he does in his spare time. I am however bothered about our eroding fundamental liberties, detention without trial, misuse of public funds, corruption, an ailing judiciary, the loss of our secular democracy, abuse of power and leadership driven by political expediency. Call me crazy, but I think these things are more vital then a copulating codger.

Chua is definitely no saint. He is definitely no hero either, as some might want us to believe. He is just some old guy who could not keep his John Thomas in check. That’s all, nothing more, nothing less, and if we want to crucify him for being ham sap, there are many others, the corrupt, the incompetent and the wicked, who deserve the same.

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