Ghosts, Gajahs, and Schizophrenics

1) Sated Hungry Ghosts

In at least one piece of good news this week, the issue of the ge tai girls (sexily clad entertainers during the Hungry Ghost celebrations) in Penang who had irked the local muslim community was finally resolved amicably.

For once, reason and sobriety was the order of the day, when the Penang Teong Guan Association (PTGA) and the mosque committee and some muslim NGOs met and decided on a three-step course of action:

  1. PTGA will discuss with the festival committee and the ge tai girls about the level of noise
  2. Future events will get permits from the police, fire department and municipal councils
  3. Any future issues should be resolved by a joint ad hoc committee

What levelheadedness is this?? What role models for community conflict resolution! Now, if only we can replicate this amount of mutual respect (with backroom negotiations and direct diplomacy, surely) on a wider, national level.

Maybe those PTGA and local mosque committee folks (who seem to be making sober decisions of late, if we recall the Teo Nie Ching matter a few weeks back) can be roped in to help with the other two matters…

***

2) Azmin-Zaid: Gajah lawan Gajah

I’m not sure about you, but if you’ve been reading anything about national politics of late, one of the big stories that’s constantly on air is the Azmin Ali-Zaid Ibrahim tussle for Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)’s deputy president post.

While such contests are nothing new, what is novel in PKR’s case currently is the principle that one member has one vote. This means that some 400,000 party faithful nationwide will be collectively deciding on the people who will steer the party over the next three years (at least).

And since there’s some excitement over the possibility that Barisan Nasional might be dislodged for the first time since Merdeka and the formation of Malaysia, the struggle for party posts appear to be quite heated. (But whether Malaysians will get to see such change in Putrajaya, well, let’s wait and see lah.) Everyone wants to be seen holding and helping to heave that spear into the heart of the behemoth, kan? (Images of Mortal Kombat finishing moves abound…)

Anyway, the bad side to all this is, as the Malay adage goes, “gajah lawan gajah, kancil mati di tengah” (or “as elephants duke it out, the mousedeer caught in their midst suffers”). The proverbial kancil here would be the RM2/year PKR members and the wider news-reading public, because such “open dagger” politics may or may not be good for long-term party morale as well as general perception of the party.

So:

On the one hand, we’re reading all about Azmin Ali’s supposed letter to Khalid Ibrahim on “reasons why Zaid Ibrahim shouldn’t be a candidate in Hulu Selangor”. Haris Ibrahim even grilled the YB about the matter… Also, there are all those MPs and ADUNs who’ve come out to support him.

Yet all’s not too rosy for Zaid Ibrahim, either. The one-time de facto Law Minister has been beset with allegations of unsportsmanlike behavior (“whiny” was one comment over teh tarik), with questions about his Umno past dancing at the edges of his glowing media reviews. Also, many people are still stupefied by his “Ghafar Baba” remark (“Actually what did he really mean?” / “I think it was about Umno culture of contesting power, in general” / “Really ah…”).

What does all this bode for the future of democracy in PKR? Well, direct elections is truly an adventurous route, and one which is highly commendable. While it’s still too early to really tell, maybe it’s not such a bad thing that the gajahs come out to fight every now and then; at least we can tell the gajahs from the snakes. Or, wolves.

***

3) Umno-Perkasa: Schizophrenic panic

“(Umno has) nothing to do with Perkasa.” – Tengku Adnan (8 Sept)

“Perkasa does not need Umno’s support.” – Ibrahim Ali (9 Sept)

“Perkasa members are Umno supporters. It would not help Umno’s cause to turn them away.” – Dr Mahathir (10 Sept)

“…It troubles me to see a rise in issues rooted in extremism in the nation.” – Najib Razak (15 Sept)

“No, we do not want to be in conflict with any NGO.” – Najib Razak (18 Sept)

“We never wanted to distance ourselves from anybody.” – Tengku Adnan (19 Sept)

Get a room already, guys!

And since we’re on the subject of bromancing in the news, here’s a video that should suffice as commentary… until the next public tiff between these two lovers.

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