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Sunday, February 02, 2014

Wooden Horses prancing around the political bush

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First off, Walski wishes all Malaysians Gong Xi Fa Cai.

Yes, ALL Malaysians. None of this "to those who celebrate it" nonsense. Because ALL Malaysians should be celebrating it. That's the Malaysian way. 

Or at least it used to be, once upon a not so long ago time.

These days, it's "Happy [insert festival here] to [relevant demographic group] and happy holidays to everyone else"… Like, what the heck's up with that? "Oh, it's sensitive, bro. If I accidentally wish someone wrongly God will punish me. Murtad nanti."

Well, not in Walski's book. For him, everyone should celebrate everything. And unlike the religious authorities, God is not petty (Walski believes so anyway).

Life is short. And a couple of days ago, Walski got a reminder about just how short life can be. We'll just leave it at that, without delving into the who, what and why. Don't be so kay-poh. Just take it at face value: in the bigger scheme of things, life is short.

And because life is short, we should cherish every moment we have with our friends and loved ones. And that includes celebrating life. Any excuse you get, celebrate life. Hence, Happy Chinese New Year to, well, everyone.

With those niceties out of the way, let's get to the meat of what Walski really wants to say...
(the meat, with lots of sauce, and more, in the full post)

Unless you've been living under a rock, lying in a remote cave someplace not detectable by the GIS satellites, you'll know that there's been a lot going on politically in Selangor. But for the sake of brevity, Walski will assume you know what he's talking about.

Just in case you have been under said rock, though, it has to do with Pakatan Rakyat, PKR, Selangor and Anwar Ibrahim. Here's a link if you need a refresher.

Needless to say, there's been a lot of disappointed people talking about voter trust being betrayed, that internal party politics shouldn't spill over into state governance, Anwar's behaving badly furthering his ambitions, etc.

Frankly, Walski doesn't blame you lot one bit. Yes, it's disappointing. Provided you're looking at it in isolation, and not taking all the other shenanigans that's been happening, vis-a-vis Selangor, particularly from the religious front.

Now, ask yourself: what's the root cause of this religion-driven melee that's happening in Selangor (and elsewhere, but mainly in Selangor)? Walski won't spoon-feed you the answer, just give it a thought for a bit. Here are some bullet points to help you:

  • State religious authorities lobbying and clamoring for more authority
  • Mooting of a federal-level religious police squad
  • All of a sudden, JAIS goes into overdrive wanting to enforce Article 9 of the Selangor state enactment pertaining the "forbidden words"
  • UMNO-friendly "Muslim" NGOs come out of the woodworks in support of the raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia by JAIS
  • UMNO goes on a state-wide roadshow to "educate" Muslims on the provisions of the state enactment (mentioned in the third bullet point above)

There are a few more bullet points Walski could add, but that would be spoonfeeding.

The point is, UMNO has always regarded Selangor as its "crown jewel", and losing the state in 2008, and coming nowhere close to regaining it in 2013, has been a big blow to the party. Kinda like losing your 'family jewels', if you catch Walski's drift. And the opportunity to strike emerged with the JAIS action.

Walski's question: is Pakatan-led Selangor government to just sit still and not address this onslaught?

Logically, the whole mess with regards to JAIS, the Bible seizure, etc. can be easily solved. How? By amending Section 9 of the Selangor state enactment, removing the "Forbidden Words". Because as is, that section is actually un-Constitutional. And it's also unenforceable without being un-Constitutional. It's not just Walski who thinks this, by the way, but a whole brood of lawyers happen to think so, too, in particular Art Harun who wrote this piece for Loyar Burok.

"Forbidden Words" no longer forbidden, problem solved. Sort of. Except, of course, if HRH Sultan of Selangor refuses to sign off on it, creating as one constitutional expert put it, a Constitutional Crisis. Walski doesn't know the answer to this, but were the "Forbidden Words" inclusion back in 1988 made with prior consultation with the then-Sultan, or did the UMNO-led state legislature pass the enactment through sans consult?

Okie-dokie - so that's the partial backgrounder of what's going on in Selangor. Walski had to make this lengthy diversion because it's a well-known fact that Malaysians have a very short memory. Except when it comes to food, but that's another tale of gastronomical proportions we won't get into right now.

With that backdrop, let's revisit what's happening in Selangor: the Kajang state assemblyman quits, making way for a by-election in which Anwar Ibrahim is slated to run. To the one-dimensional dismay of many people, PR-supporters included. The feelings of betrayal are expressed, and condemnation of an Anwar-fied power grab are made. Campers aren't happy one bit.

Well guess what folks? It's politics. And because, in the bigger scheme of things, life is short, we probably shouldn't get all emo about it. Sure, if it suits you, you can champion moves to ensure Anwar doesn't get elected. That's your right to call for such a play.

Look, Walski has no love lost for Anwar Ibrahim. Walski does, however, care for what happens to Selangor. And the last thing Walski wants to see is Selangor fall back into the slimy hands of UMNO. Is that scenario what YOU would consider a better alternative? And while it may not be a very likely scenario at this juncture, with Pakatan Rakyat's majority in the state legislature, it certainly is not impossible to maneuver. What with the Malaysia Boleh spirit and all.

Think about it for a bit. Politics is a chess game. And in a chess game, one does not pre-publish what one's planned opening and game plan are for one's opponent to see, and have a heads up. 

Now, if the Kajang Maneuver is about nothing more than Anwar wanting to become Menteri Besar, please explain this statement from current MB Khalid Ibrahim. Not to mention that Anwar running for the Kajang seat has the endorsement of both DAP and PAS (but not the purported moves for the MB post).

So perhaps now you understand why the CNY greetings graphic Walski put up is what it is. And Chinese New Year is something ALL Malaysians should celebrate - no change there.

Not to say that all is well within the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat camp, particularly within the ranks of PKR. What former party member Zaid Ibrahim had to say about the whole issue deserves a mention, and a read. So, too, does this lament, written by Nathaniel Tan, someone quite close to Pakatan Rakyat and PKR, up until not too long ago.

Another valid grouse, of course, is that PKR's internal politics has allowed itself to spill over, affecting the voters and constituency. 

End of the day, however, it's politics.

Here's what a good friend mentioned recently with regards to what's happening in Selangor. Her dad is a retired politician, incidentally, and so her viewpoint is one Walski thinks pertinent: "Yes, a lot of unhappiness being expressed, but this is politics. You talk about the party and strategy and sacrifice. Learned this many years ago: no point getting emotional and upset. They don't think like us."

It's human nature to want to think that ours is an ideal world, and that issues can be looked at in isolation. Well, it's not an ideal world. More so when it comes to politics. Let the politicians involved sort it out, and let the people of Kajang decide: do they look short term and punish Pakatan Rakyat, or do they look at the bigger scheme of things? It really is their choice.

So what do we non-Kajangian mere mortals, do? Well, we can whinge and whine, like many good Malaysians do, about how politics is a dirty game, about how voters are treated like dirt, and go out of our way venting our frustration and anger at this less than perfect country, within the larger context of a less than perfect world.

Or, we can enjoy the remainder of Chinese New Year - and life, for that matter - with our friends and loved ones. Nighttime war-zone annoyances notwithstanding. It ain't CNY without a few things going bang-bang-bang, right?

Walski chooses to do the latter - subdued somewhat, with what's transpired on a personal level, but enjoy it all the same, as much as he can.

What you choose to do lies entirely up to you. Walski doesn't judge.

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