Opinion

The true measure of a society

Zan Azlee

Zan Azlee is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, New Media practitioner and lecturer. He runs Fat Bidin Media www.fatbidin.com

JAN 11 ― They say that if you want to know the maturity and development of a society, you look at how it treats its least privileged.

But I think there’s a better analogy than that. I say, if you want to know the maturity of a society, look at how its concert organisers treat ticket buyers.

I recently went to Jakarta, the macet-prone capital of Indonesia, to watch one of my favourite rock bands of all time, Weezer, in concert.

The last time I saw them perform was 11 years ago in Birmingham, England. And I have to say, this time around, it may just be the best concert I have ever been to.

But let’s put that story aside; it isn’t what I really want to talk about here. What I do want to talk about is the experience I had at the hands of the Indonesian concert organisers.

It isn’t a secret that many Malaysians tend to look at Indonesians as a second class or lesser Malay society compared to themselves.

Don’t believe me? Just go back a few weeks and flick through Utusan Malaysia and read an article written by a certain former information minister, and see.

However, I would beg to differ. My recent trip to the Nusantara has made me realise that my Malay blood isn’t any superior just because I have a blue Malaysian identity card.

I have been to concerts in many countries, from Malaysia to Singapore, and even Europe and America. But the most pleasant experience has to be in Indonesia.

Never have I met a more polite bunch of ticket punchers, ushers and security personnel anywhere before in my entire 34 years of life.

Smiles were generously thrown in every direction and nice greetings were uttered like they didn’t cost a single Rupiah at all.

Crowd control could have not been any more efficient and pleasant than that concert by Weezer in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Compare that to all of the concerts I have been to in my homeland Malaysia, where anyone with a “crew” tag would act like they were the boss of the world.

I have never encountered in Malaysia, ticket punchers and usher who are actually polite. They usually rush people in and grab tickets without the least eye contact.

 At let’s not even mention the security team. They act like the Hells Angels did during the 1969 Rolling Stones concert in Altamount, California.

You can’t miss them. They look like gangsters with big handlebar moustaches and gigantic bellies that they seem to think are muscles.

They scream and manhandle concertgoers exactly like how Malaysian stepfathers scream and manhandle their stepchildren.

So despite the fact that my Indonesian maid just ran away two months shy of the end of her two-year contract and causing me to have to pay a fine, I still think very highly of Indonesian society.

You guys in Indonesia have contributed to one of the most pleasant experiences in my life, and for that, I thank you. You are truly a cultured society.

But, of course, it would have all been for nothing if it wasn’t for the rocking awesomeness of Weezer and Rivers Cuomo.

To be frank, only the first two of their albums (out of a total of nine!) are worth listening to. The rest just suck big time!

But the brilliance of those two albums alone (Blue Album and Pinkerton, which were released in 1994 and 1996 respectively) puts them as one of the top two on my favourite bands list.

And on a final note, to my runaway Indonesian maid, pray that I find my wife’s necklace and my diamond stud Baju Melayu button.

Or else, be warned that I know where you live (Kuala Tungkal, Sumatra). I have been there and I have relatives there who have quite some clout.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist

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