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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

YB, or not to YB...

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... that is the goddamned question.
Whether it’s better to take this crap -
the hogwash and bullshit of outrageous protocol
Or dispatch the rescue team out to a sea of troubles.
And by opposing, lose my sorry-ass job?

(with apologies to Wm. Shakespeare)

Related post: Tioman ferry tragedy, and the Zen of Maritime Safety

Hat-tip to Jeff Ooi.

As if the circumstances and rammafications surrounding the Tioman ferry tragedy weren't bad enough...

Image taken from Moans Groans Whines & Whinges (click image to view source), hosting by PhotobucketHere's what my girlfriend told. She was told to head out to search either 8am or 9am(somewhere around that time). They wait for it and asked the marine police if they can head out already or not but the marine police said that they need to wait for the YB (Yang Berhormat) to come first.

The operation was delayed till the arrival of the FIRST YB and the YB with marine police head out without the victim's relatives. They said that they still need to wait for another YB which turn out to be late again. Again, they stranded at the dock waiting for the YB to arrive. One is from MCA and another is a malay women. The malay women still don't want the marine police to go out yet. Reason? Don't ask me. My girlfriend's sister cried infront of the malay women YB only she give permission and ask the marine police to head out for the search operation.

(source: Johnny's Blog)

What the hell is the matter with this country? Have our rationality and priorities gotten so fucked up that the status, and potential photo ops, of some political VIP's becomes more important than the lives of persons missing out at sea? This is beyond ridiculous... This is one of the (many) reasons why Malaysia will forever be in the backwater of 2020... wanna be an advanced nation, but run by absolute fucked-in-the-head morons.

And while yesterday, Walski was optimistic that because of SOLAS there might be some real investigations for a change, now he's not so sure.
(YB protocol bashing, SOLAS, and more, in the full post)

But really... this YB-must-come-first mentality is endemic. You see traffic get literally shoved aside - even in the most congested of traffic jams - so that VVIPs can get past. Interestingly enough, Farish Noor wrote this about the notion of "Government" when it comes to Malaysia, analyzing the Malay word for "Government" - kerajaan (emphasis by myAsylum).

We are often told that the Malay word for government is kerajaan. This, for those who are aware of the subtle semantic shifts and differences that are constantly at work in the Malay language, is of course a bad translation.

Kerajaan literally means “to be in a state of having a Raja”. The concept kerajaan harks back to the feudal era where Malay politics was very much centred in and around the court (istana or palace) and where power was concentrated in the office of the Raja himself.
(source: The Other Malaysia)

The only difference between then and now, it seems, is that we have many, many Raja's to contend with - the Little Napeoleons and Josephines that pollute our lives and well-being with demands of protocol and feigned respect. Not the noble-blooded Raja's, but the royal-pain-in-the-ass kind of Raja's - our YB's.

A commenter on yesterday's post, going by the nick Master Mariner, had this to say:

True, Malaysia is a signatory to the IMO SOLAS convention, but in inshore territorial waters the requirements can be less stringent, if the national authority deems fit (this authority in Malaysia is the Marine Department). Nevertheless the vessel and the lifesaving and fire fighting equipment must be adequate, and the vessel must be of a suitable design, to ensure that it is seaworthy and safe for the intended area of operation, taking into account local weather conditions, etc.

It goes without saying that there has been little or no enforcement by any of the maritime enforcement agencies (Marine Department, Marine Police and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency [Coastguard]) and that it is this closing of one eye, or even both eyes, which resulted in dereliction of duty and criminal neglect, which is the likely root cause of this dreadful tragedy.

To put it bluntly the apparent cause is as simple as ABCDEFGHI - Apathy, Bribery, Corruption, Doubtful Enforcement, Frightful Greed, Horrendous Indifference.

And because SOLAS compliance is lax (even as far as non-existent, probably) within Malaysian waters, and because the rule of the day is obfuscation of the truth - a thorough investigation, full disclosure, and more importantly, reform of the agencies involved may not quite see the light of day. Walski's optimism? Gone down the deep blue with the carcass of the burning ferry.

Especially when the Minister of Information himself states that the real truth is unnecessary. Only the sugar-coated truth from certain parties counts, as far as he is concerned.

Why? Because the YB's have to be guarded from shame and downfall. The new Rajas of the country... to whom protocol, photo opportunity and self-preservation are more important than the life of others. The very same others who probably were dumb naive enough to vote their sorry YB asses in.

And this sickens Walski to no end.

Walski's semi-optimistic endnote: In all honesty, Walski hates to end this post on such a sour tone. There is some positivity that has come out of this tragedy - two other vessels owned and operated by Seagull Express and Accommodation Sdn Bhd have been siezed. The PM, breaking his elegant silence, wants "all illegal ferries to stop operations". Nice - but wanting something and having proper regulations enforced are two totally different kettles of fish entirely. Last, but not least, the Chief Minister of Johor, going overboard as usual, wants "all ferries plying the Mersing-Tioman route to be thoroughly checked by the Marine Department before departure" - any ridiculous demand to look good, eh Datuk? And what did Walski just say about these motherfucking YB's??