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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fire Stones and Mothers-in-Law

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Image hosting by PhotobucketMarlboro Kretek & its accompanying FireStone

A couple of interesting things that Walski picked up during his recent trip to Jakarta - a pack of Marlboro Kretek (clove cigarettes) and a lighter, aptly band-named Fire Stone.

You can't find Marlboro Kretek in Malaysia, or at least, Walski's never seen it on sale. Not even in the duty free shops. But he's not really into clove cigarettes, although Walski will endulge in one every so often. He is, however, a Marlboro smoker, so the novelty of seeing this unique variant made Walski try a pack.

But it's the brand of disposable lighter that really caught his attention - Fire Stone. Transliterated into Bahasa Malaysia, you'd get "Batu Api", which has a totally different connotative meaning. And that's what this post is really about - the various real-life Fire Stones we're seeing surrounding the Permatang Pauh by-election, and the campaign that comes with it.

Image taken from Malaysiakini, hosting by PhotobucketThe one Fire Stone that just had to appear in Permatang Pauh, campaigning for BN, is of course Khairy Jamaluddin, or KJ as he's (not always) fondly known. He thinks that not only will BN win the by-elections, but that it would pave the end of the PKR political leader's career.

"We are here to bury Anwar’s political career. We are here to make history to ensure our nation’s future is free and safe from him!" he thundered to loud cheers from those present.
(source: Malaysiakini, subscription required)

As typical of political campaigning here in Malaysia, some below-the-belt speech was to be expected.

"I don’t understand why he would take a coffee boy, a volunteer without a fixed salary, overseas. I never take my coffee boy abroad.

"However, my friend told me that if Anwar took him overseas then the coffee made by Saiful must be kaw-kaw (strong)," he added to laughter from his audience.

(source: Malaysiakini, subscription required)

Political pundits have called this by-election the Mother of all By-Elections. Walski, however, begs to differ.
(but Permatang Pauh is still pivotal, and more, in the full post)

Image hosting by Photobucket

To Walski, although it definitely is pivotal, the Permatang Pauh by-election is more like the Mother-In-Law of all By-Elections. You know, with the magnitude of nasty rhetoric and all.

Of course, Walski's moniker is purely based on the stereotypical evil she-bitch image of mothers-in-law that's rather popular. For the record, Walski has a wonderful one, and nothing like the nasty stereotype. In fact, Walski's own mother-in-law is probably the anti-stereotype. But, he digresses...

Remember the "warning" from our somewhat imbecilic Minister of Internal Securities about inciteful race-based or religion-based campaigning? Well apparently that warning doesn't apply when his own BN does it, going by the kind of bannerism found in Permatang Pauh.

Original image taken from Malaysiakini, hosting by PhotobucketSeditious speech is OK if from BN?

The Malaysiakini article from which the image above came from stated that the banner coincided with what KJ had to say in his own Fire Stone-ish campaign speech. Ahh... what joy to be BN, eh? Ministers make rules and give warnings, but you're not the slightest bit obligated to take heed... After all, being BN means never having to say you're sorry. No matter how insensitive and hypocritical your actions may be.

And then you have the supposed threatening text messages that have been flying around the area, "urging" people to not vote. Hmm... wonder who could be behind that stunt?

But the Permatang Pauh campaign ground-zero isn't the only place where the Fire Stones are peddling their rhetoric of fear-mongering. A couple of days ago blogger Aisehman highlighted an article in the Bahasa Malaysia BN mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia, which labelled Anwar and PKR as "anarchists of the New Left Wing". Aisehman, not to be undone, reasons that if the article (which is rife with semi-intellectual bullshit) labels PKR as such, then UMNO should likewise be labelled "Purveyors of Malay Neo-Nazism". Bravo, dude!

Not to be outdone, Berita Harian (the other BN BM mouthpiece), via its weekend edition, Berita Minggu, printed this story. Note that today is Sunday.

Original image taken from Malaysiakini, hosting by Photobucketclipping courtesy of Perisik Rakyat

Okay... so the other papers also has reported this... but wait... the report says TODAY (hari ini)! In the past tense, too boot. Already happened. On a Sunday? Gee... it's like... Berita Harian/Minggu's got news so fresh, it hasn't even happened yet. The other papers reported that there is enough evidence against the five involved, and that they would be charged on Monday (tomorrow).

Well, now you know where to go if you wanna know about stuff that hasn't happened yet, eh? Sloppy/idiotic journalism? BN spin-doctoring spun into orbit? Or just plain, vanilla-flavored desperation? Enquiring minds surely wanna know...

By the way, if you've been watching any of the Beijing 2008 Olympics, you would probably have been hearing the Chinese cheer their athletes on with "Chia Yu! Chia Yu!" - which litereally means "add oil", or "add fuel", figuratively meaning advance or accelerate... something along those lines.

And what better combination when you have fuel and Fire Stones?

Thus, the surprise announcement of a reduction in fuel prices by the BN-led government, would of course be met with mix response. Sure, it's something welcome. But the timing - 10 days earlier than expected? (via The Star) Tsk, tsk... And that, sports fans, is probably the ultimate Fire Stone hurled by a rather desperate BN, who really cannot afford to see the Permatang Pauh seat won by Anwar and PKR, as it would "chia yu" to the fiery momentum of PKR.

Pak Lah would have us believe that the announcement of the reduction had nothing to do with Permatang Pauh. Maybe he's telling the truth, and maybe he's not. We really don't know for sure, and only have his word to go by. But with his living legacy of flip-flopping, it's really no surprise that many of us (Walski included) takes his denial with a big clutch of table salt.

That's how bad his ratings have become. Fire Stone, or no Fire Stone.

And so we wait another couple of days for the by-elections to see the results of this pivotal poll. And there really is no excuse for registered voters to cast their ballot on Tuesday, August 26, since the Penang state government has declared the day a special public holiday.

Just so that you folks can participate in the Mother-in-Law of all By-Elections...

Walski's Fire Stone transliteration footnote: Incidentally, the Bahasa Malaysia translieration of "Fire Stone", batu api, means instigator (it can also mean "flint", which is what gives lighters that spark). Also, Walski's apologies to the mothers-in-law of the world, the vast majority of whom, he's sure, are wonderful people. It's just that stereotypes are such fun material to work with...