From plastic bags to quinoa, is #undirosak still the immature and brain damaged ones?

From plastic bags to quinoa, is #undirosak still the immature and brain damaged ones?

By Hafidz Baharom

In the last two weeks, this has been the campaigns leading up to the 14th General Election. It was initially to call us using the #undirosak hashtag as “immature, brain damaged, treasonous” and even going so far as “committing suicide”.

Since then, we have learned that our largest apolitical critic being the chief of the Coalition of Free and Fair Elections (Bersih) is joining politics under the PKR banner and allegedly offered a “safe seat”.

Thus, the clean is now clearly about to get muddy.

Then we went into plastic bags versus reusable bags – in which you had one side promising free plastic bags again, while another believes this will damage the environment more, with prominent backing from non-government organisations.

That is, until EcoKnights’ Yasmin Rasyid came in and asked the most logical question of all – why not just ban plastic bags altogether and get it over and done with.

And then, we were tantalised with food – from the Prime Minister admitting to eating quinoa, to Lim Kit Siang denying even knowing what quinoa is, to Mahathir Mohamed saying he only eats rice.

Subsequently, this led to the revelation that quinoa was cheaper than the nonagenarian’s entire budget of feeding his horses, to which the retort was that carrots were cheap.

Then walked in the Sugar King, with that “Man from Manchester” alleging that Robert Kuok was funding the DAP, which has since been denied, with the threat of a lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Umno’s Nazri Aziz has decided the existence of “balls” should be added into the mix of the general election campaign, casting doubt of its existence with Kuok.

And thus, issues of more importance get buried in the ridiculousness of this entire “immature” and “brain damaged” arguments on both sides of the political divide.

UNICEF released a report talking about how children in PPR projects are malnourished, and just last year, we saw a similar news piece on how children in Putrajaya are facing the same issue.

In Titiwangsa, RM85 to feed a family of 4 was considered “cheap” during a BN sponsored “Jualan Sentuhan Rakyat” – does this even happen every week to allow Malaysians to cope with the cost of living? And isn’t that what we need in this country?

In Kelantan, each household has a member addicted to methamphetamines, called ‘pil kuda’ in slang.

Mental health issues are expected to be the second biggest health problem behind heart disease in Malaysia by 2020.

At the same time, we are expected to have more than double the number of senior Malaysians aged 60 by 2020, meaning that the EPF might go dry with all the withdrawals expected to cater to 3.3 million people.

This senior citizen boom will also burden our healthcare and welfare plans, needing people to cater to the emergencies that will be faced by senior citizens who live independently. And that, means we will – like it or not – have to either increase government revenue by raising taxes or maintaining economic growth and productivity to do the same.

Meanwhile, real wages of the youth have not gone up at the same rate as inflation, making them unable to buy a house until they’ve reached the ages of 30 and above, at which time servicing the mortgage takes up most of their disposable income.

There has been no more talk of a Rent To Buy scheme, and even the so-called government’s definition of “affordable” housing is not in tally to the Malaysians they are supposed to cater to.

Youth issues are not addressed, from jobs, to public spaces, to even suggesting a concept of universal basic income for single income households because housework is work.

No side is offering new policies to cater to their wants and needs, and nobody is offering hope for a better future – instead, offering escapism through broadcasting the Premier League on RTM.

Heck, no side even wants to push a women’s issue to stop GST from applying tampons and feminine hygiene products, for that matter.

So, I raise the question yet again – who exactly are the immature and brain damaged ones here?

I contend it is the sides in politics that say the country is in crisis, but still find time to argue over quinoa and rice, plastic bags over reusable bags, even throw allegations of political funding which could have been substantiated if both sides agreed on having to declare political funding without hypocrisy and with full transparency.

No side is discussing what truly matters in this country, which are solutions to the issues of everyday Malaysians – instead, they insist on taking potshots like kids in kindergarten arguing over a swing set.

And this is why I will continue to encourage Malaysians to spoil their votes in the upcoming elections – it is sending a message to political Malaysia that we are done with their stupid antics, and it is time for them to grow up.

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One thought on “From plastic bags to quinoa, is #undirosak still the immature and brain damaged ones?

  1. So true, Hafidz! Spot on man.

    This is all about different factions of the Malaysian capitalist class battling it out in the war of perception, whilst seeking to win supporters to their side, with fine-sounding words of competency, accountability, transparency, clean government on the one hand and denunciation of their rival of corruption, cronyism, nepotism, kleptocracy and so forth, with no concern shown or priority given to the concerns of the lower income group and the poor over their economic survival, the rising cost of living, affordable quality heathcare, decent education, affordable, quality housing and so forth.

    In many ways, this is like the semi-feudal politics in Philippines, Indonesia and other South-East Asian countries, where wealthy and powerful families or groups with vested interest, battle it out like feudal warlords behind a facade of western-style democratic institutions.

    Each of these warlords wins over sections of the plaebian masses to their side, with promises of greater democracy, free speech, free press, human rights, certain political reforms and so forth, so that these latter-day serfs will campaign, protest, march in the streets, vote for them, fight and even die for them, but quite often nothing much changes in the economic wellbeing of these plaebian masses, if their warlord wins.

    For example, Philippines dictator President Marcos was ousted in a “People’s Power” revolt in February 1986 amidst much joy and jubilation at having regained democracy, press freedom and civil rights but despite all that, the Philippines people still remain mostly poor and have to venture abroad, including to countries such as Malaysia, with most quite literally having to submit to indentured servitude to earn enough to send home to support their family members.

    I’ve asked a few Philippinos and Filipinas working as cashiers or maids in Malaysia and they said that life in Philippines was better during Marcos’ time.

    According to Wikipedia, Marcos was elected president in 1965 and during the early and middle of his 20 year rule, the Philippines economy did well but ended in loss of livelihood and extreme poverty for the Philippines masses, and a crushing debt crisis towards the end of his rule.

    However, it does not look like despite regaining democracy, free press and civil rights under succeeding presidents, the livelihoods and living standard of the majority of the Philippines people have improved much since the fall or Marcos, and that’s because it never was a “People’s Power” revolt that toppled him but a revolt by the latter-day feudal nobility within a republican framework, who toppled one of their own, who had secured his grip on power for his family by force, thus denying his fellows opportunities to milk the Philippines economic cake.

    The same is more or less so for Indonesia after the fall of Soeharto in May 1998, for Egypt after the fall of Mubarak and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali both in 2011, where the people still face the same economic hardhips until now. Basically, a different warlord won, with the help of the gullible plaebian masses who protested, marched, got arrested, beaten or even died for them.

    This article in MalayMail Online is revealing of the correlation of educational and income level with tendency to vote for either Pakatan or Barisan. I.E. – the higher one’s educational and income level, the more one is likely to vote for Pakatan and vice-versa.

    “Survey shows Pakatan supporters, fence sitters more educated, earn higher”
    Read more at http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/survey-shows-pakatan-supporters-fence-sitters-more-educated-earn-higher#EoubJ6KEheM9W1xL.99

    This article in MalayMail Online of 4 October 2017 describes the class divide in Lembah Pantai between the upper middle class suburb of Bangsar and the working class and lower income urban area of Kampong Kerichi and Pantai Dalam, both of whom have different, sometimes opposing concerns and interests.

    “In Lembah Pantai, class divide hints which way votes will go”
    Read more at http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/in-lembah-pantai-class-divide-hints-which-way-votes-will-go#tWQm0XoR4WGD0Va8.99

    Many of those who are primarily concerned over issues such as competency, accountability, transparency, corruption, issues such as 1MDB, RM2.6 billion into Najib’s personal account, human rights, press freedoms, etc and who have the luxury of time to spend hours sharing and forwarding tidbits, news and rumours about them are mostly educated, urban-based, middle, upper-middle and upper class persons, who materially comfortable with their basic needs satisfied, have the time to spend in discussion and debate on such issues online and on social media – and that includes people like us.

    However, go talk about such issues to those amongst the urban lower income, rural or semi-rural people and these could be like Greek to them or at most a lesser concern than their struggle for survival. The results of this approach were seen in how the opposition lost several seats in the last Sarawak State elections when they emphasised issues such as 1MDB, RM2.6 billion into Najib’s account, the supposed loss of RM42 billion and so forth in their election campaigns, instead of promises to address the pressing concerns of the voters if elected.

    Also, the problem with conversations in social media groups or comments to articles on political websites or blog posts, is that they become incestuous echo chambers, where mostly the converted preach to the mostly converted, to the extent that the ralative handful of participants, come round to believe that their opinions within their small circle – 256 at most in a WhatsApp group, are shared by the millions of voters in the world beyond.

    I’ve participated in some of such WhatsApp groups, where I’ve been ostracised for my independent views, rather than mostly toeing the “party” line.

    Anyway, whichever latter-day, feudal-style warlord wins, we the masses have little to gain aside from a few crumbs they will throw to us.

    So let’s not get drawn into becoming their useful idiots, only to be flushed down the toilet like used toilet tissue, once we have served their purpose.

    Like

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