Dead grateful to your government?
Writer: Lord Bobo
Published: Fri, 05 Oct 2012
I’ve noticed some people hounding Keadilan Daily for an apology over an article about school exercise books featuring the Prime Minister’s face? What was that all about? (Hidup Rakyat, via email)
First of all, Lord Bobo would like to declare that one of the people who created the “controversial” exercise books (it is sad that Malaysia has become a place where everything is “controversial”) is June Low.
June is a LoyarBurokker and is someone very close to several of Lord Bobo’s bodily organs (not just our heart).
At the most recent Arts for Grabs event, June and Dill Malik opened a stall called Gerai (Rakyat) 1Malaysia and sold their version of 1Malaysia merchandise.
These included exercise books (with the PM’s face on the front, and LGBT guidelines on the back), T-shirts with a sketch of the PM and his cat on the front (customers were given the option of colouring their own cat with fabric crayons that were provided), a poster with illustrated guidelines on “How to Spot the LGBT Menace”, and eraser magnets (or magnet erasers, depending on your philosophical inclination).
Free M&Ms were also offered, though this did not cause any controversy. Not yet anyway. We expect some Smarties lovers will be submitting a protest memo to the soon-to-be-created “Say No to Discrimination of Confectioneries” and will soon be creating a Facebook page denouncing June and Dill’s blatant discrimination.
Someone from BN, PR, or Perkasa will then pick this up as an issue and slam the other parties for not voicing their disgust, and self-proclaim himself as Mr Fairness For Sweeties.
Anyhow a photo of the notebooks went viral on the Pakatan Rakyat Supporters Facebook group, and sites such as Amenoworld, and Curi Curi Wang Malaysia, accompanied by a rumour that the notebooks were produced by BN.
June and Dill responded to some of these posts with a clarification, but their responses were ignored, and the posts were not removed.
Keadilan Daily then reported that the notebooks were a last ditch attempt to gain popularity by a government on its way out, and were being actively distributed in schools.
In response to a tweet from June, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar tweeted Keadilan Daily asking them to “issue retraction asap”. The article was then removed, but no clarification or apology was issued. Many more posts have since sprung up online following the publication of the article.
Editor’s note: Keadilan Daily has withdrawn the article and posted a retraction on Oct 2.
Should the people be “grateful” to the government? (Ingrate, via email)
Gratitude is a concept usually brought up by leaders in feudalistic societies and banana republics, to appeal to the emotions of the voters and distract them from rational thinking.
Governments are under a legal duty to act in the best interests of the people. In return for carrying out their duties, government leaders and servants are paid salaries. These salaries come from public funds. The relationship between the people and the government is a simple one – you do your job, we pay you.
It is an arms’ length relationship, like between an employer and an employee.
Even if the government performs well, there should be no element of gratitude. Their duty is to do the best for the country. The people pay them to do their duty. Therefore, the people pay them to do their best. Their best is already paid for.
The government is not your relative or your friend. Sometimes you are grateful to your relative or friend because they do things for you out of love, kinship or friendship.
It is appropriate to be grateful because the act was not done out of legal obligation and no payment was given in return.
Gratitude to a government has no place in a modern democracy. The people should ignore vain exhortations to “be grateful”, and focus instead on rationally and critically analysing the actions of the government to see if they have done their best.