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?