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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Wall of Voodoo

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Well, credit where credit is due. And this time, it's for PM Najib Abdul Razak, namely for what he said in his national day address.

Think whatever you might about Najib, but at least he has the sense to know that something is definitely ripe in the state of Malaysia (Denmark, on the other hand, seems to be doing okay, in these post-Hamlet days).

But Najib's concern, plus the headline underlining the concern, does beg this question: Who was it that built those walls in the first place?
(it’s the voodoo that vee done, therefore undoable, and more, in the full post)

Put simply, Walski thinks that each and everyone of us has had a hand in putting up said barricade. In some cases knowingly, and in some ways not. But it’s a wall that’s been building up for a long, long time.

Right now, it really is a matter of whether or not we want that wall to remain or not. Walski personally thinks, yes, it should be torn down.

But tearing down the wall is going to take a big commitment from every single Malaysian, right up there from the monarchy, the executive, and all the way down to each and every common citizen. And this includes those in the religious bureaucracy, too, let’s not forget.

Because for the wall to be effectively demolished, we must ensure that all factors contributing to it being there in the first place be removed. For the wall to be broken down, each and every Malaysian must be made to feel like he or she is an equal citizen, in all respects.

And as we know too damned well, equality is certainly not the case today.

Today, we live in a Malaysia that’s rife with double standards and differential treatment, depending sometimes on who you are and what social status you hold, or more often than not, which demographic segment you are deemed to belong to. Or, as some might say, doomed to belong to.

But perhaps the most difficult part, if we’re really serious about tearing down that wall, is the removal of religion from the public sphere, and not using religion to shape our public policies. Religion – any religion – once used as the basis of public policy becomes divisive, and doesn’t contribute to cohesiveness. Or wall removal.

And that alone potentially makes Najib’s aspirations of wall demolishing an almost impossible thing to ask for. Unless everyone agrees that we get back on the track that our forefathers set on 52 years (and one day) ago.

For the most part, however, it is heartening to note that most Malaysians, regardless of ethnicity or creed, do treat each other cordially still. Apart from the occasional nut case show of hatred for the “other”, like what we witnessed in Shah Alam last Friday.

That cordiality has generally been the case for many generations. And yet, like it or not, there is still an invisible barrier between communities, and individuals of varied demographics, that prevents us from truly feeling we belong, as one undivided nation, in this land we know as Malaysia.

That invisible barrier is the wall that we are talking about – and it is built not from brick and mortar, but from institutionalized norms, social conditioning, and not least, our own evolved perception. Which is why Walski contends that to break down this wall of voodoo, it will take a concerted effort from the top down.

Voodoo as it may be, it’s a wall that we’ve unwittingly built over the years together. So, the question remains – do we really want to break down this wall, or have we become all too comfortable and secure within it? To demolish it won’t require some mystical counter-voodoo. Or any other hocus pocus bomoh-rific dark arts, for that matter.

All it really takes is to sincerely, and honestly, want to. And every single Malaysian, from the top down, must want to, as well.

Waski’s not so cryptic musical post-title reference: Wall of Voodoo is the name of a now-defunct popular 1980’s rock outfit, most known for the catchy hit tune “Mexican Radio“ from 1983. Being that the wall Najib talks about is not a physical sort of barrier, the band name immediately came to mind. And like he mentioned above, the removal of the wall won’t take some counter-voodoo, or other supernatural means…

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