29 October 2014
Just as we fight the dengue epidemic, let’s tackle other problems that need to be sorted out for the good of all.
I JUST came back from lunch and I am feeling a little bit worried. I was bitten by some mosquitoes, you see, and from their black and white markings, reminiscent of the Luftwaffe and equally deadly, I can tell they are the dreaded Aedes type.
Considering the fact that we are amidst an epidemic, I guess for the next day or so I’ll be checking my temperature every hour and Googling the symptoms of dengue fever when I am not pressing my hands against my sweaty brow. If I miss the next article, you’ll know who to blame: some disease-carrying blood-sucking insect.
Seriously, why on earth do the Aedes mosquitoes exist? Why did God make them?
This got me thinking about what benefit this insect can bring. And believe it or not, I did find something. Perhaps they have no use on a practical level, but metaphorically, they do have a purpose.
You see, these wicked insecta diptera are equally wicked to everyone. They don’t care what colour you are.
They only care what colour your blood is. They will happily shove their evil little proboscis into anybody. They are equal-opportunity disease mongers.
Perhaps there is something we can take from the Aedes mosquito. They are a problem that affects all Malaysians, regardless of whatever category we fall into. This is the same with so many of the other trials and tribulations we face or are going to face.
The petrol price hike is like the Aedes mosquito. So is the proposed free trade agreement that we might sign up for (although there are many who welcome this particular insect).
The Goods and Services Tax might bite us in the unmentionables. The education system might be an itch on the bottom. The poor state of the environment might give us delirium-riddled fever.
These things affect all of us. So why can’t we deal with them as we deal (or try to deal) with dengue? With a policy that doesn’t care about who is catching the disease, but instead works on the basis that here is a problem that needs to be sorted out for the good of all.
Why does everything have to be about this ethnic group or that ethnic group, this religion or that religion? It is as though public discourse in this country is trapped in some interminably obtuse record player with a scratched LP that keeps jumping and playing the same screechy cacophonous noise again and again.
By focusing on the irrelevant, we are getting nowhere nearer to figuring out how best to move on. I want to end with a quote from the Rulers in the Reid Commission. They said that they “look forward to a time not too remote when it will become possible to eliminate communalism as a force in the political and economic life of the country”.
This was in 1957. Why does it feel like we have not moved towards those aspirations at all? Why do we keep allowing the small-minded to determine the public discourse, where one is persistently fighting bigotry and idiocy instead of spending effort getting to grips with the big issues that affect us all?
If ever there was a need for enlightened leadership to lay out a progressive and not regressive agenda, now is the time.