Side Views

Tragedy of MH370 and the Malaysian elite – Wan Norman

You are the Malaysian elite, the ruling class in the country.  You may be the prime minister, a minister, or a head of major Malaysian corporations, or top civil servant, the police, the army or the judiciary. 

Inclusive are also supreme promoters of the “sons-of-the-earth”, who do not like the “newcomers”. 

What you are not are any members of the opposition, liberal NGOs at odds with your dogmatic worldviews, the non-mainstream media, and 51% of population who voted against you in the last general election.

It was so cosy to be part of the ruling elite. You may act with impunity and not questioned.  Juicy contracts abound, let’s build another highway and give to that judge. 

A person died after falling off a building during a corruption interrogation and someone gets slapped with a desk job.

Threaten to slaughter members of a race and paint the streets red, or publicly offer money to slap a woman, and no one apprehends you. 

However, a seasoned lawyer gives a legal opinion on a constitutional matter and clearly he is seditious and loses his parliamentary seat.

You don’t like another person who seems to be perilously close to a position of power and very quickly he is a sodomite with five years to spend reading books in his cell.

Wasn’t it so comfy to be part of the establishment in this country?  You do not get asked difficult questions.  The press is servile to the point that Myanmar’s political regime is envious of Malaysia’s. 

If you say the Earth is flat and the Sun revolves around it, the mainstream press would probably trumpet these “facts” the next day, front page, adding what an astute observation that is. 

If the opposition rebuts that the Earth is round and we revolve around the Sun, they will condemn it and say what an irresponsible the statement that is and that it will likely cause public disorder.  It may even be seditious.  Don’t even begin to give contrary opinions on the word one can use for God.

Let’s go to the courts for justice, then.  C4, acquitted, no appeal.  Spermatozoa in nether regions, acquitted, appealed and conviction double quick time.  Enough said, if you are not a member of the ruling elite.

Not mentioning the media, even elected representatives in the august house can’t question you if they are the other side of the fence.

The public is concerned about various matters that are of interest to them, but when MPs try to discuss these current issues they are so often put down by the Speaker because they are “not in the public interest”. 

Political debates so the public can learn respective parties’ policies?  No way, it’s a waste of time, our political elite say. 

Of course, it’s a waste of time, the mass media slavishly and unquestioningly parrot anything they say, so why risk an unpleasant debate where you cannot control the outcome?

It was so comfy, note the past tense.  Then comes MH370.  Suddenly you are facing a sea of people, rowdy, unruly, biadab, asking you questions that make you cringe. 

Your knees turn to jelly, the flashing lights blind you, the camera lenses like maws of predators.  You look around, dazed, like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights of an onrushing truck.

This is not NST or Utusan reporters here, these are the world press: CNN, CNBC or BBC who don’t take bullshit answers kindly.  How could they ask such uncomfortable questions so directly, how dare they raise their voices? 

Where is the gents, this is not tolerable.

The deer here is the Malaysian elite, the lorry bearing down on it, the outside world.  No more protection for you, there are 239 lives at stake here, you cannot shy away, no room to evade questions here.

If you are the PM, a press conference becomes a press statement, might as well print a broadsheet and pass to them, at least they didn’t have to wait so long.

In the real world outside, no one will parrot you and accept whatever you say as gospel.  If you are articulate, then you are.  If you are incompetent, then you are. 

If you are there due to your connections, rather than ability, then it will be seen.  And it has been seen, by the whole world.  If the matter was not so serious, the world would have laughed uproariously.

For so long you have insulated yourself from difficult questions, from debates, from having the need to argue convincingly, from constructive discourse on anything not in your favour or might be unpleasant to you. 

You have never gotten the practise to hone a basic skill, hence it is understandable you falter so glaringly.  Malaysians know this for years of their leaders, and are either inured or apathetically tolerant of the situation. 

But MH370 brought it a global audience to witness this phenomenon themselves. 

MH370 looks more and more like a tragedy for the 239 people we are waiting for and whom we still pray for the best.  For the Malaysian ruling class, the tragedy has already crystalised, and after all the years of inoculating yourself so securely in the intimate embrace of your privileged positions, with every institution of power in this beautiful country geared to protect you against any distress, you have grown soft and illiterate.

For the ruling elite what you are experiencing in the aftermath of MH370 is your own fault, and just desserts, I say. – March 19, 2014.

* Wan Norman reads The Malaysian Insider.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

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