11 November 2022

"Pasar malam" politics...

Malaysia, universities and 
our ‘pasar malam’ politics...

In almost 70 years since Merdeka, our country’s election practice has changed little from what I term as “pasar malam” politics. By this I mean that one-way ceramah style has not evolved much into a more formal and serious discussion in the form of forums or town halls where the candidates are grilled by the people they are vying for votes.

I would like to associate the three main characteristics of pasar malam and how we should evolve our way of presenting issues in elections to be more meaningful. There are three characteristics of the Malaysian pasar malam. 

Firstly, it is impermanent as it is set up in a few minutes with tents and movable stalls straight out of the back of a van or lorry. At 10 p.m., the whole place becomes an empty parking lot with all the stalls dismantled and stowed back in the car. The whole pasar malam can also be relocated easily at another site.

The second characteristic of pasar malam is that there are sellers who would shout or use a microphone to sell their products. Their voices ring loud and clear as they extol the quality of their products, just like P. Ramlee in his song Ubat (mari beli ubat ini, gerenti puas hari) where the characters in the film were selling fake medicines.

Thirdly, there does not seem to be any health inspector going around to check the quality and safety of any of the products, especially those to be consumed. I once had a bad stomachache from a nasi goreng that was recycled from the previous night’s pasar malam.

In Malaysia, the ceramah style of giving one way ceramahs or talks like the Ubat charlatan is the most preferred style. This method is preferred because no questions from the audience will be entertained and so the speaker can go on and on without being questioned.

One political candidate accused Anwar Ibrahim of having an LGBTQ agenda and that his party is akin to communist. There is no one to question this candidate, what is wrong with the LGBTQ community? Did they rob RM40 billion? Did they accuse non-Muslims as corruptible people simply because they do not accept Islam? Did they threaten Chinese Malaysians with May 13 like a group of Malay university graduates in the Jawi incident?

The LGBTQ people are decent Malaysians with parents, honor and dignity, of which many are better than the friends and members of that candidate’s so-called “Islamic” party. We will see who goes to heaven and who to hell.

Then there was an Umno big wig who goes around saying one vote for PH is one vote for the DAP. What is this candidate insinuating? Is the candidate trying to be racist by insinuating that DAP is a Chinese party? Well, isn’t the candidate’s party in coalition with Chinese and Indian race-based parties?

Is the candidate also insinuating that the DAP is an extremely bad party for Malaysia with their political ideology of Malaysian Malaysia? If so, then why did the candidate sign an MOU with PH that included DAP to save his ass from being kicked out of his lofty high office by PPBM and PAS? Hoi, cerminkan muka dulu lah! And didn’t his party also worked with DAP in the previous government of Perak? It is totally unbecoming of a candidate like that to be the prime minister of Malaysia shouting “Keluarga Malaysia” while practicing divisive tactics that has no shred of evidence.

The culture of pasar malam politics means that a candidate can just air whatever views that are most divisive in nature and even half-truths without being questioned on the spot by others who may know better. The pasar malam nature of the speeches are also something that cannot be held accountable after winning the election because those pasar malam promises will disappear like the stalls of the real night market at 10 p.m.

On another note, I read about some IIUM and UM students trying to organize a forum for leaders of main political parties to have a forum and debate, but they only managed to get one person, Anwar Ibrahim.

The students had applied for permission to have the forum at IIUM but Malaysian universities are haram when it comes to teaching political responsibilities of nation-building to students.Thus, the students held the forum at Nexus Bangsar and managed to have a fruitful Q&A session with Anwar.

Why did the other candidates decline? Is it because, like our caretaker PM said, “debate is not our culture”? As a university professor, I have always said the failure of this country began and will end at the universities.

Many journalists, professors, academics and NGOs never considered my statements as a serious one. They listened politely to my discourse on the subject of “the university as the test of first nation” and then went about that way.

In America, Obama would have town hall speeches in universities. In America, debates between presidential hopefuls would be held at universities. The most serious affair of a nation is the election of the future prime minister or president, and the serious issues of economic, religious and social importance occur in American universities.

Some 200 people, most of them first-time voters, showed up at a dialogue session with Anwar Ibrahim.The event, dubbed “Ada apa dengan korupsi”, jointly organised by the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) Student Union and Universiti Malaya (UM) Student Union, was held in Nexus Bangsar South.  the union made efforts to contact BN and Perikatan Nasional (PN) leaders but to no avail.

What about Malaysian universities? I have always said that Malaysian universities are no better than boarding schools with their academics and management simply polishing their CVs to climb the greasy pole of titles and lucrative posts.

Tons and tons of research papers are produced and conducted but our country has slid down from bad to worse in race relations, corruption, religious acceptance, flood mitigation, environmental sustainability and the people’s health conditions.

These researches and papers are used for university ranking numbers to satisfy some elusive competition towards glory and student intake.There does not seem to be any serious social, spiritual or political responsibilities in the universities.

Since the implementation of Undi18, there has never been any change in the university administration to help students understand the various political parties and individuals who may become their future leaders.

Part of the pasar malam politics in Malaysia are apparently because the universities do not have any significant role in nation-building to not just allow but encourage forums, talks and discussions among academics, students and political personalities of all parties.

The pasar malam politics of Malaysia, I am afraid, will be there when my grandchildren come of age to vote, but I hope to live long enough to ensure that they do not attend the universities in Malaysia to learn to be a good person, a critical minded individual, a visionary leader and a humble man or woman who accords dignity to all people in the world. - Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi, MySinchew

Zahid: Tiada siapa paksa 
Khairy pergi ke Sungai Buloh...

BN chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi when met last night at BN command center in Titiwangsa said Khairy should not complain as he has asked for Sg Buloh seat to be given to him. As to whether he will endorse him as future PM, he said that would depend on the next general election. - MelGoh

Pengerusi Barisan Nasional (BN), Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi menjelaskan keputusan untuk mencalonkan Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar di Parlimen Sungai Buloh dibuat selepas Menteri Kesihatan itu membuat permintaan untuk bertanding di kerusi berkenaan.

Ahmad Zahid berkata, keputusan untuk mencalonkan beliau di kerusi Sungai Buloh pada Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-15 (PRU15) merupakan hasrat Khairy sendiri. “Dia (Khairy) yang minta kerusi Parlimen itu. Dia minta kerusi diberikan kepadanya. Sebab itu, saya endorse (menyokong) dia,” katanya ringkas selepas melawat Command Center BN Parlimen Titiwangsa di sini malam tadi. 

Sementara itu, ketika ditanya mengenai hasrat Khairy Jamaluddin untuk menjadi Perdana Menteri suatu hari nanti, Ahmad Zahid, bagaimanapun enggan memberi ulasan lanjut berhubung kenyataan tersebut. Bagaimanapun, beliau memberi gambaran bahawa hasrat tersebut tidak akan tercapai dalam masa terdekat. “Ia bergantung pada pilihan raya berikutanya,” jelasnya ringkas. - Kosmo

Meru, Klang, Selangor


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