Transforming to what? | Selangor Times
Issue 118


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Transforming to what?
Writer: Patrick Teoh
Published: Fri, 30 Mar 2012

Just a few days ago I was driving past the Umno building in Kuala Lumpur. It was raining and the infamous bottle-neck traffic jam in that area of the city was worse than normal. I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic right beside the Umno building.

Some of you might know that 2 sides of the tower of the Umno building have now been converted in what I think might be the world’s largest television screens!

Okay so there isn’t anything wrong with that except that drivers too engrossed with the streaming TV images might forget that there are vehicles in front of them and drive right into an accident.

Anyway, since I was not moving anywhere fast I looked up at the screens. And this time they were screening pictures of Malaysia’s prime ministers with those “Bapa” titles that we seem to be so fond of tagging to our leaders. 

The screened flashed all the photos of the prime ministers from the Tunku to our present Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Tunku Abdul Rahman was tagged as Bapa Kemerdekaan (father of independence).  Tun Abdul Razak was Bapa Pembangunan (father of development). Tun Hussein Onn was Bapa Perpaduan (father of Unity). Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was Bapa Pemodenan (father of modernization? Modernity?) and Najib Razak is proclaimed as Bapa Transformasi (father of transformation).

I am not sure if I want Najib Razak to be my bapa of anything but as I sat there in traffic gridlock I could not help but think of all the titles given to our leaders.

Tunku’s title is well deserved. He did work with others to initiate the first steps on our road to independence. Tun Razak? Well, he had noble ideals about the development of the country although in my opinion he didn’t live long  enough to ensure that his original vision of the New Economic Policy (NEP) was kept pure and able to achieve what it set out to do instead of being hijacked to become a crutch and tool for corrupt practices.

Tun Hussein Onn. Bapa Perpaduan. Father of  Unity? Hmmm…I thought about it for about 10 meters in the traffic jam and still couldn’t quite understand the title. Finally, I concluded that if Tun Hussein Onn had done anything for Malaysian Unity his efforts have been more than adequately dismantled by those that followed him. But that’s just my personal view la.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed. Bapa Pemodenan. Father of modern…something or other. I didn’t understand that.

Unless it was to mean that he brought us the Twin Towers which stood for a little while as the world’s tallest buildings.  And the Sepang F1 race circuit. Which put Malaysia on the map. For a short while. A very short while until those pesky flies from Singapore aced us with their first ever night-race F1 circuit. And the ability to party without the need to deal with traffic jams for 75 km into KL city.  

What else? Oh yes Proton, the Malaysian national car. Although to put Proton and the word modern together in one sentence is not really logical. Oh, of course Dr. Mahathir could have also been titled Bapa Wawasan 2020 (father of Vision 2020) as he was the one who dreamed of guiding Malaysia to developed nation status by the year 2020.

Although nobody these days remembers what the vision was really about or what a developed nation really means.

After all, somebody declared Selangor a ‘developed’ state some years ago only because Selangor had more money than the others. Anyway, I digress.

And then came the HUGE photo of a smiling Najib Razak under which was the caption, “Bapa Transformasi” (father of transformation). Ever since he became prime minister, Najib has promised to transform the country and set it back on the path to the ultimate goal of Vision 2020.

Transformation. As I sat there in the traffic jam I began to think what effects of these transformation programmes so often shouted about in the media I have experienced or benefitted from as a Malaysian. And my mind turned to our infamous Malaysian traffic. And the work of the Malaysian police.

I know it really has very little to do with the big transformation ideals of the prime minister but my thoughts couldn’t help but turn to the obvious ineffectiveness of the police when it comes to our traffic problems. As part of Malaysian life that is being transformed the police still have not managed to control even simple stuff like illegal parking!

And worse, have you noticed that running red lights has now become a common everyday occurrence? And I have seen such practices happen right in front of police patrol cars and traffic policemen on duty. And when such things happen, our police flers do transform la. They develop temporary blindness. So, at least there is transformation what! Can’t say the title Bapa Transformasi is for naught.

And as the traffic began to inch its way past the giant TV screens I wondered what other titles are in store for future prime ministers of this country.  You have any ideas?


 Selangor Times



Also by Patrick Teoh:

Quit the wishy-washy themes

few weeks ago my daughter who lives in Singapore sent me the link to a Singapore National Day promo video. 

It has to be bleep, bleep and bleep!

When I first coined the word “Niamah!” a lot of people asked me what it meant. Well, for those of you who don’t speak Cantonese, when spoken aloud the word means your mom.

Malaysia a safe country: The spinning goes on

The morning newspaper had on the front page a story about security in housing estates. How foreign guards are better than local ones. How illegal foreigners are getting jobs as security guards. How if we pay peanuts we get monkeys as security for our family and property.

Those damn illegal parkers

By the time you sit down to read this, the memories of Bersih 3.0 would be more than two weeks old. But I’ll bet that people will still be talking about the rally. Exchanging experiences. Telling some tall tales.

Absurd cost of … everything

Well, Valentine’s Day has come and gone. Along with the perennial, prerequisite hoo-hah that accompanies it.

End of the world?

In just a couple more weeks the Year of the Dragon is going to roll in. For the Chinese flers it is always an extra-auspicious period of the Chinese Lunar calendar. So what we can expect this Chinese New Year is an even more garish display of the colours gold and red in the shopping malls. Actually, the incessant Chinese New Year musak is already playing endlessly. Petaling Street vendors are going to drag on their sales of made-in-China new year “must-haves” until the last minute of the 15th day of the Lunar New Year of the Dragon.

Your right, my right, and all the ‘goreng’

In just a couple of weeks it will be the new year. Yes, 2012. Another year. But as with every new year for the past decade, I would say we Malaysians step rather tentatively into the next 365-day period.

Time to take the wheel

For a very long time now there has been almost complete anarchy on Malaysian roads. There appear to be no laws governing traffic, nor does there appear to be anyone bothered to obey them if there were. I am sure you see, as I do, on a daily basis motorcycles and motorcars ignoring red lights, double lines and stop signs.

Come on, get happy!

The past couple of weeks has been sort of tough. On the old brain I mean. Mine. Having to remember lines from a script that is not exactly Shakespearean quality and having to say them while moving around without knocking into the furniture on stage. Things were so stressful that I missed the big event of the month: the announcement of the Budget by the prime minister!

Manifestoes un-manifest

Last month I attended a fundraising dinner for a political party. For an opposition party la. When have we ever heard of the ruling coalition ever needing to organise a FUND-raising party? No, right? No need what. Fund-giving got la. Especially near elections time. But I digress.

Conditional love…?

JUST a few days ago a friend of mine sent me a Tweet message in which she referred to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as our Conditional Prime Minister. I laughed out loud when I received that. What a wonderfully apt description of the man, I thought.

The Great Clean-Up

For the past week or more the whole of the Klang Valley has been quavering with excitement, fear, anger, frustration and maybe a little despair.People have been arrested. Threats have been issued by both government and normally level-headed Malaysians. Balai Polis stores are bulging at the seams from overstocking of bright yellow t-shirts which everybody wants but cannot have. After all they’re perfectly good shirts. 100% cotton some more.

Harsh realities of this flawed paradise

As we turn the corner and head for the second half of 2011, things sure ain’t looking that hunky-dory. My family and I enjoyed a few days in the remote beaches of Cherating, Pahang. Those four carefree days of rushing waves and gentle breezes and oh-so-calming peace and quiet were elixirs for the much-stressed average Malaysian soul.

Who copied who?

By the time you read this the good folks in the little red dot, Singapore, would have been to the polls and either a) elected the almost all-powerful PAP again as their government of choice, or b) elected a much younger, more change-oriented government from one of the opposition parties like The Workers Party or the Singapore Democratic Party.

He who laughs last…

As I sit down to write this a lot of funny things are happening in my country. Sex scandals. Snap elections threats. Detailed explanations of when a Bribe is not a Bribe but a Gift.











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