On superheroes, power and boundaries

The column below was rejected by The Heat Malaysia on the grounds that it is too sensitive for public consumption. Oh well.

Anyone who has read or watched the Spider-Man comics and movies would know the whole “with great power comes great responsibility” spiel by heart. But what most forget is the conflict of superheroes to set their own boundaries when wielding absolute or near absolute power – and how it relates in real life.

Those reading the comics would see this scenario in a few examples – Superman and the DC Universe in the Injustice series, Marvel’s Civil War arc, and even the situation with Marvel’s World War Hulk. These series do have some lessons imparted in real life.

Should government play a role in limiting the powers of superheroes, or leave them to self-regulation? In all these examples put forward, possibilities are highlighted, challenged and even show, in intimate detail, how it affects the rest of humanity and the citizenry of a nation.

It is a parable of ethics and boundaries which represent the debates on press freedom, heads of state, religion and even royalty. In fact, it partially reflects on Malaysia’s history itself.

While governments are keen on setting boundaries on their superheroes, they don’t seem equally as keen to set boundaries on themselves – case in point, the DAP in Penang refusing to pass power in the given hierarchy of the state to a Deputy Chief Minister.

Or even on a federal level where we see campaign financing suddenly being shifted towards an argument against foreign funding on non-government organisations, but not talking about a huge amount being donated from God knows where.

And of course, we have the same parable being used all the way back in 1992 and 1993, with constitutional amendments limiting the power of certain superheroes here in Malaysia. While now viewed as superheroes to the general public, it was not always the case in the past.

I would personally tell you what happened here, which some Malaysians may not have a clue about.

Well, most Malaysians – since the Malaysian median age is 28.5, most would not know what led to the limitations placed on the royal families, nor do they bother to look it up.

Meanwhile, the older generation seems to be equally mum, most probably due to the Sedition Act shutting them up, or maybe they are just being sinister to omit history for votes from the sheeple.

Thus, I will just share selected quotes from parliamentary proceedings which are public record and available online for those willing to search it out, speaking about our superheroes.

And to avoid mistranslation, I will post these in the original text – in Malay – directly from the Hansard dated 10 December, 1992.

If there are any doubts to the authenticity of these quotes, you may find them here. (http://www.parlimen.gov.my/files/hindex/pdf/DR-10121992.pdf)

From Tan Sri Shahidan Kassim:

“Tuan Yang di-Pertua, saya hendak memaklumkan di sini oleh kerana masa yang begini suntuk, di sini terdapat 21 kes ataupun insiden yang melibatkan kes pukul, cedera amat parah, rogol dan juga kes terbaru yang kita dengar,” (page 120)

“Lagi satu kes ialah yang berlaku pada 24hb Disember 1985 yang melibatkan dua orang pemberita Utusan iaitu bekas Ketua Pengarang Utusan Zainuddin Maidin (Zam) dan juga Chief Reporter, Rozaid Abdul Rahman,” (page 121)

“Rozaid dan juga bekas Ketua Pengarang Utusan telah dipanggil di Istana dan telah ditumbuk lima kali di dahi. Perkara ini telah dilaporkan kepada Kementerian Dalam Negeri,” (page 121)

“Kemudian dalam tahun 1986, di Johor Bahru, di Pantai Lido ada laporan polis. Kemudian di Hotel Holiday Inn, Johor Bahru yang melibatkan Putera Mahkota iaitu kes rogol, juga ada laporan polis,” (page 123)

I post these as a reminder to Malaysians to dig, and discover the hidden tales behind why things are the way they are, in the words of those who have passed on such as Karpal Singh, and those still with us like Shahidan and Zainuddin Maidin.

There are public records explaining why, who, what, how and where these things took place. In the era of Google, this information is all at your fingertips had you bothered to look.

Heck, you can even ask Ibrahim Ali, Lim Kit Siang and even Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang. But perhaps, it is better to shush and just let the superheroes be superheroes, and be seen as flawless in the eyes of an ignorant or even naively supportive sheep flock of a public.

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