A young friend sent me an e-mail yesterday, wondering if I'd read the article on Malaysia by the New Yorker magazine.
The article's headline is The Malay Dilemma, borrowed from Dr Mahathir's once-controversial and formerly-banned book.
I thought that Anwar's Malay Dilemma [or click here, courtesy of commenter Long Live Dr Mahathir] would have been a more apt title for the article. If you rely wholly on the New Yorker for your analysis on Malaysian politics, you'd think that Malaysia is a nation almost beyond redemption, where salvation lies with one man.
The following, in italic, is my young friend's email.
Dear Rocky, I have always wondered why that, as a young Malay, my morale has been very low since coming back in 2005. Why my non-Malay friends are publicly telling me that it is because 'your skin-color people' that Malaysia is going down the drain and to the dogs. After reading this article, I think I have finally understood why. This is the reality that Anwar has managed to paint of Malays and Malaysia. Through the blogs and American media, he has managed to paint this reality in the minds of all Malaysians and the world. This article was forwarded by a buddy of mine in the States, nasi lemak, with the following comment. You should read the comments after the article. Thought it'd be interesting read for you. Cheers.
Anwar will never be the Aung San Suu Kyi of Malaysia. How can you be, when for the first 2/3 of your career, you were the strongest man in the Junta?"So many angry posts about Anifah and his "big mouth," but no one wants to link it to Anwar's already-launched American-seduction PR campaign. Just read that pandering New Yorker article. The impression I get is Malaysia is a backward neo-theocracy, with UMNO warlords running it to the ground Islamic-fundamentalism style - and Anwar is the sincere, self-doubting "messenger of god" to save the nation. What a load of cock. Sounds just like Ahmed Chelabi when he was bullshitting the Americans into invading Iraq - paint the nation as an American enemy, and they will take notice. BN is suffering from corruption and apathy, yes; Malaysia has alot of socially outdated and ineffective policies, especially race-wise, yes; people are fedup - yes! But framing us as Baath-esque, blind-to-the-world, anti-semetic religious rice-monkeys? Come on. Anwar is a true-blue traitor for going around shitting on Malaysia with such fervor, but it seems so many people want him to do exactly that. Says alot about his supporters and what they sincerely think.
People will believe exactly what they want, to get whatever it they want;
that is life. Anwar is just providing himself as a receptacle for our
people's projection - using their grouses as his personal platform to be Big Boss of Malaysia. Maybe the people need some kind of figure like that, to embody and fight for their frustrations. But, for the love of God, please know what kind of receptacle you are using. You may not notice it is a toilet bowl.
Nothing Anifah said is new - anyone with a passing interest in Malaysia
would have heard the Altantuya accusations (even my American friends have read it in passing somewhere on international news sites, and they don't particularly give a damn about this part of the world).
With the New Yorker article, the American intellectual community may now finally have Malaysia as a dirty blip on the radar. What Anifah did, in the light of this, is in my opinion, appropriate. Good thing Secretary Clinton didn't seem to take too much interest in Anwar personally (while maintaining that America brought up rule of law and due process during discussions). I think she can smell a rat here, especially considering Anwar's escapades with neo-con war-peddlers like Paul Wolfowitz. For my money, she knows how Chelabi played Wolfowitz (perhaps also the other way round), and won't take the risk on another asshole with a personal agenda. And despite his best efforts, Anwar will never be the Aung San Suu Kyi of Malaysia. How can you be, when for the first 2/3 of your career, you were the strongest man in the Junta?
By the way, I fully expect this comment, and others of similar leanings, to be mostly ignored or ridiculed. Right now, the popular thing to do is
rubbish the government. All the cool kids are doing it.
So will most of their fanboys."