Manifestoes un-manifest | Selangor Times
Issue 118


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Manifestoes un-manifest
Writer: Patrick Teoh
Published: Fri, 09 Sep 2011

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.

As it always happens at these fundraising dinners or any other ceramah, there were a lot of speeches. I laughed at some. But after about half an hour I started to feel bored and dis- satisfied. It's always the same isn't it? The topic is almost always about how bad things are under the present administration. Embel- lished with graphic stories about wastage, cronyism, corruption, vote-buying etc.

And no ceramah or fundraising dinner speech would be complete without a few stories about diamond rings and bouffant hair-styles and those water-fearing Scorpions. Is that spelt correctly? Scorpions. Scorpenes. Whatever la.

Each time a corrupt tale is told we cheer loudly. And every time there was an anecdote about Mongolians and explosive denials about tear gas and camera angles and hospitals, we all guffaw, holding our sides while trying to remember the story for our own little soap-boxing session at the next mamak stall gathering.

But after a while, all the stories become rather stale. The punchlines become cliched. And I stop laughing. Then my thoughts turn to whether I should vote for people who are good stand-up comedians, or vote for people who have a good plan of managing the coun- try that I love. 

If you're an average Malaysian like me you would have often entertained the thought: "Hiyah! Any change is good change la." How do you know that these flers will do any better once they get into Putrajaya? Never mind what! Sure they will be better than the current bunch. And if not we can always vote them out again. 

But like the ceramah and dinner speeches, these arguments soon become less and less convincing. 

And that is when you really begin to want to know what these other flers have in mind for when they do become our elected govern- ment. Surely they have plans, right? They have told us to the minutest detail what is wrong with the present bunch, so they must have a big plan to correct all that, kan? So where is this big plan? 

When I asked this question of the other diners at the fundraiser I was loudly chastised by... well, I guess someone who is more blindly trusting than I am or less cynical. Go and read the parties' manifesto la. Don't read want to talk what? And so I kept quiet and went home to Google some manifestoes to read. Okay, for those of you whose Engrand not so terror, "manifesto" = a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives or views of its issuer. 

In other words, the manifesto of a political party is its plans on how they would do things la. Boy, was I unpleasantly surprised! In the documents there was much rhetoric but very little detailed plans. It's the same: they are so bad cos of this that and the other, and we shall be better than them when the time comes. Oi! How la dei? How? What's the plan? Plans to bring down cost of living. Plans to improve GDP. Plans to bring in more FDI. And while you're at it, what plans for MRT, KPI, MAS, GTP and all the other three-letter nyms that the other flers are always bandying about? 

I can almost hear the manifestoes cooing softly back to me: "Plans ah? Wait la. You vote us in first then we tell you lor. Can ma?" And then I almost want to kick myself in the backside. They did declare their intentions ma! 

We intend to take over the government of this country. Our motive for this intention is cos we want to take over the management of this country. That is our view. Yes, we (insert political party name here) issued this manifesto. So, where does it say that we have to show or tell you our plans? Sorry, sorry, sorry. I promise I shall continue to laugh at the jokes about hair and corruption at the next dinner or ceramah okay? Sorry ah.


 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.

Transforming to what?

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.

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!

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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