Walski's cover note: Apologies for not posting the last day or so, but Walski's been on the road again.
Few superstitions are as universally widespread as the one about Friday the 13th. This is where bad things supposedly happen when the 13th day of the month falls on a Friday. There are two such days this year (the first being on January 13th), today being the second one.
And perhaps few film franchises in recent pop culture have had the success of the Friday the 13th series of films (11 to date, the latest being Friday the 13th: Freddy vs. Jason). Word has it that there is yet another Friday the 13th film in the offing, tracing the beginnings of the central character Jason Voorhees.
But in all likelihood, it probably won't be anything like the Savage Chickens cartoon shown below (which, incidentally was from Jan 13 this year).
There are numerous myths, legends and theories surrounding the origin of why Friday the 13th is considered unlucky.
The most credible one, it seems, would be the "Black Friday" incident in the 14th century, when hundreds of Knights Templar were simultaneously arrested on Friday, October 13, 1307, exactly 699 years ago today (source: Wikipedia). If this sounds familiar, it's because this particular Black Friday was mentioned in passing in The Da Vinci Code, in both the book and film.
There are numerous other theories, of course. Answers.com has an entry containing other possible ones.
Now, Walski's not a superstitious person, and doesn't believe that this day, or any other day, is luckier or unluckier than any other given day. For some, however, there is a real fear, so much so that there actually is a phobia specific to the fear of Friday the 13th: Paraskavedekatriaphobia (a real mouthful of a phobia, don't you think?). Which, incidentally, is a specific form of another phobia, Triskaidekaphobia, which is the fear of the number 13, and an equally difficult phobia to pronounce.
But for one person, Friday, 13th October 2006 may be a Black Friday for another, non-superstitious reason. It has to do with an e-mail that person wrote last week...
(more Friday the 13th in the full post)
From The Star online edition today, pertaining to a certain Mohd Fauzi Mustaffa.
The e-mail, of course, refers to the one disclosed in the myAsylum post last Saturday: "Deepavali greetings can cause syirik??"
Takaful's Public Relations Department head, Lokman Abdul Rahman, was quoted in the Sun yesterday as saying that they stood by what was written in the e-mail, and felt that it is not proper for the issue to drag on. Interesting way to defray a possible PR fiasco. Kind of reveals the attitude of those running Takaful Malaysia, doesn't it?
He also repeated the earlier statement by Mohd Fauzi Mustaffa that the e-mail was for internal distribution, and that it was more of an "advisory" rather than a directive. Reading the e-mail gives one a different impression, however.
Others, too, have come out of the woodworks to demand an apology or retraction from Takaful Malaysia on the internal e-mail, which somehow leaked out. A partial list of news items Walski found today include:
► The Standard (China) from Oct 11
► Intolerant e-mailing (letter, The Sun)
► DAP demands apology from Takaful within 48 hours or else ... (The Sun)
► No more Happy Deepavali? (letter, Malaysiakini)
► Their business sought, their friendship not (The Sun, Oct 11)
To Walski, it's bad enough that such an e-mail was issued in the first place. To make a disclaimer saying that it was only for internal circulation, and in fact standing by what what written is worse. As a consumer Walski leaves it up to each individual to decide for him or her self what to do next. Walski, for one, does not have any policies with the corporation, nor was there any intention to take one up with them.
Should they be charged with sedition (as the DAP has called for)? Probably not. Stupid is as stupid does, and the backlash from this is a lesson in itself. Whatever their PR people wanna do as damage control is entirely up to them. And whether or not Takaful Malaysia should take action on Fauzi, is again, up to the corporation.
What this issue has done, positively, is to expose Takaful Malaysia's attitude as a corporate entity. Which is a good thing, because it now allows its customers, and potential customers, to make an informed choice. And as consumers, one has every right to choose whom to insure with. If you feel Takaful Malaysia is still okay to do business with, that's fine with Walski - it's your money, at the end of the day.
Now, on a strange train of thought, Walski, who's watched a number of the Friday the 13th slasher films, doesn't know offhand if Jason Voorhees ever took out a life insurance policy (or any kind of insurance). Well, to begin with, Jason would probably be considered a lousy risk to insure, being that he's died and come back to life at least 12 times (twice in the original, if you consider his initial death). Imagine the numerous death benefit claims he could get, though.
Or maybe as a Life Policy client expeditor?
But on the off-chance that he did, it probably wouldn't have come from Takaful Malaysia.
For one thing, just imagine the disdain that Takaful Malaysia would have towards a customer whom they would probably have to classify as undead. As it is, their attitude towards the living leaves a lot to be desired...