Posted by Din Merican (June 6, 2008 )
Joke, Jokers and Joking!
by Ahmad Mustapha Hassan
Ahmad Mustapha Hassan Writes On The Lingam Tape and Says That You Can Joke With Some People Some Of The Time But You Cannot Joke With All The People All The Time.
Everything is a joke according to some Malaysians. They go through no entry signs and say that the sign is a joke. You ask how the Police Force is performing and the answer will be that the Police are a joke. And if you confront a ‘mat rempit’ and ask why he put up such a stupid act that endangers not only himself but also other innocent people Answer will again be that it is all a joke. ‘Saja Seronok’, meaning it is all done just for fun.
This culture only emerged a couple of decades back. Previously, it would be a sin and a crime to treat things as jokes. This was so when I was a child. Nobody dared to treat anything as a joke. Things were serious and proper.
I believe it is the frustration in facing the current malaise in the Badawi administration that resulted in the birth of this negative culture. The Government does not take things seriously and the Prime Minister is a big joke himself and so his Islam Hadhari.
The administration is more concerned with creating their own bunch of cronies and flatterers. The leadership enjoys having jokers around.
The leadership feels this can be an anecdote to their inability to forge a united Malaysian nation and also to cure all the social ills facing the nation. By creating divisions, they feel their presence will forever be needed. The jokers can provide entertainment to a frustrated the nation.
Another aspect is the lack of creativity in the leadership. And thus the leadership becomes too engaged in this pastime to compensate for their intellectual deficiency. Everyone is trying to entertain everyone else. Even our honorific awards are becoming one big national joke (watch June 7, 2008 national award ceremony on television).
We take the ‘UMNO’ general assembly as a case in point. Due to lack of positive brain power, the ‘kris’ was used as a symbol of manhood and courage. After this show of socalled belligerence, the stand up comic, Hishamuddin Tun Hussein Onn would then take over the proceedings of the assembly.E ach speaker would try to outdo the other in coming out with hilarious and so-called witty comments and flattering pantuns.The leadership was entertained and so were the other participants. Serious talkers would be out of place in such a gathering.
This assembly has become an annual comical affair. Poking fun has become a kind of national pastime. Everybody had a good laugh; everybody gave loud clapping and everybody roared with heartiest laughter while they spend their lunch time and evening doing big deals with hardpressed businessmen.
Once this culture emerged, it then took strong root especially with the UMNO Malays. And they did sometimes forget where they were. So they also tried to play jokes in Parliament. The leaking of the Parliament roof was equated with some crude remarks. Again the joking trait seemed to have no boundaries.
Parliament too had become a theatre for vulgar and dirty jokes. Recall the “bucor” remarks by that despicable Barisan Nasional Parliamentarian from Kinabatangan, Sabah. And the jokers were UMNO Malays and fortunately enough not from the opposition political parties. This culture was, however, peculiar to UMNO politicians as it was seldom found among the non-Malays. That is most telling.
The latter are more serious in the performance of their duties. They may be construed as being colourless. One should know where and when to be serious, not joke all the time. Things should not be lumped together all over the place and all the time. There is a time and a place for everything.
Jokes would be much appreciated in pubs and drinking bars. At these places politics and religion were taboo. These are places for relaxation and light conversation. These are places to let one’s hair down. And so jokes will be much appreciated. The jokers in Parliament should dispense their witty remarks at these watering holes.
Not being serious and joking most of the time only showed that some people were suffering from some kind inferiority complex. Not being able to come to par socially and economically even with affirmative action being lavishly accorded to them ,these UMNO politicians would try to overcome the sense of guilt by creating jokes; and these jokes were usually at the expense of those who have achieved economic success on their own steam.
So when the Government set up a Royal Commission to look into the Lingam tape episode, many took this Commission to be a joke. The main actor in the tape even told the Commission that the character in the tape “looks like him and sounds like him” instead of either confirming or denying that it was him. This is some kind of a sick joke.
Once this tempo was set by the main actor, others too followed. They simply treated the Commission as a joke. Vincent Tan, the tycoon in the corridors of power, also played to the tune of the principal actor. He thought he was being very clever in taking such a posture. Tunku/Teuku Adnan Mansor too played his role in concert with Vincent Tan and Lingam. When it came to the turn of Dr. Mahathir, he conveniently chose what to remember and what not to remember. I have this feeling, that all felt that they were taking part in some kind of comedy.
But now, the last laugh is with the Commission. The Commission members did not treat the whole thing as a joke. This was a serious affair. The credibility of the judiciary was at stake. They did what they had been entrusted to do. They came out with a report that caused the various actors in this episode to lose their appetite for jokes.
Malaysians must not treat every single thing as a joke in order to cover up their weakness or embarrassment. They should not feel that they were above the law and that they could treat all and sundry with laughable contempt.
This high and mighty attitude was due to their being close to the seat of power. But the occupant of that seat had already vacated the place in 2003, and he himself was also implicated in this incident. Vincent Tan was all smiles in appearing at the hearing of this Commission and thought himself to be very clever in acting the way he did.
‘You can joke with some people some time but you cannot joke with all the people all the time.’ Wealth and position did not merit the kind of attitude that should be shown to a Royal Commission set up to determine the authenticity of the Lingam tape.
Each and every one that was connected with the tape was duty bound to tell the truth to assist the Commission in coming to a truthful conclusion. That it did come out with its much awaited report was very commendable, especially in an a environment that was treating the whole exercise as a matter to be taken lightly.
Now the Commissioners knew that the whole affair was no laughing matter. But in Malaysia, there always emerges some wise character who would throw a damper on what the Commission wants done. The Deputy Prime Minister, Najib Razak opined that investigation may not mean prosecution!!
But there are agencies of the government that will look into the findings of the Commission, and why not just allow them to do the needful. The ball is in Badawi’s court, not in the hands of Gani Patail, the Attorney-General to commence investigation on the former Prime Minister, Vincent Tan, V K Lingam and the two former Lord Presidents, Eusoff Chin and Ahmad Fairuz.