Monday, January 3, 2011

The 1Malaysia Ban

You know, Malaysians ( politicians in particular) seem to have a string of bad habits. Besides our previously discussed preoccupation with leaks, we also seem to ban everything not to our liking. A few years back yoga was banned by the syura council ( apparently because the 'om' sound yoga practitioners recite in the beginning means 'God' in Sanskrit or what not); soon afterwards tomboys were banned, and now.... even the 1Malaysia slogan is going to be banned?!

The Selangor government under the helm of Pakatan Rakyat has been embroiled in controversy over the issue of OneMalaysia. They say that it is a political slogan, and are moving to ban the slogan on all billboards within the state of Selangor.

Now let me get this straight. Banning yoga ... okay, perhaps because of the Hindu elements in some forms of it... Banning tomboys... fine, we're a pretty conservative country... but banning 1Malaysia?! It's an act that far surpasses my lowly level of understanding. I would much rather they ban smoking, chow tau fu ( that vile smelling evil mess), or those horrendously ugly and ridiculously expensive roadside ornaments ( like a giant corn cob, or a giant pitcher plant in the middle of a roundabout. Hurts my eyes every single time.) than ban 1Malaysia.

Let us think of why would anyone ban the logo or the slogan. Hmm. Can't really think of anything reasonable. Give me ONE, just ONE good reason why the Selangor government should ban the slogan on all billboards. Let me think ... alright it's a political slogan. Really now? Didn't see anyone banning Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah or Cemerlang, Gemilang & Terbilang. Even if it was politically motivated, and is indeed aimed at "cheating the rakyat", Selangor is only proving that the slogan is effective and something to fear by moving against it. Alright then, so there goes one reason crashing down. How about the allegations that 1Malaysia was an expensive waste of the rakyat's money, hiring a foreign company to design the concept? And that it is connected to 1Israel? Alright, assuming these allegations are true, banning the billboards is still no way to confront the issue. Investigate the matter! If the Parliament will not approve a committee to investigate the matter, do it privately, and publish the findings. Banning the slogan from being displayed is like covering a mole hill. You will only cover the surface, and the mole will eventually dig its way out. Its a pointless exercise that brings only frustration and a damaged reputation to the PR led Selangor government.

On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons NOT to ban the 1Malaysia slogan. Firstly, whatever the slogan's hidden political machinations are, what I see, what the rakyat sees is an effort towards national integration. Of being recognised as Malaysian instead of Chinese, Malay, or Indian. By banning it, and not giving any further explanation other than it being 'political', PR is seen to be going against all that it has worked for. Less discrimination towards race and religion. More equal rights. A Malaysia that finds unity and diversity. And by doing this, they are betraying their very own principles in the eyes of the rakyat.

At the same time, how many anti-ISA rallies have PR parties taken part in? How many times have they called the government a draconian, authoritarian regime that takes away freedom of speech? And now, they are imposing those very same restrictive measures on BN. Seeing their actions, I cannot help but wonder if they would be as against the ISA as they are now if roles were reversed. Would they still abolish the ISA if they were the ones who stood to gain from wielding its power? From the events that have thus far occurred, the implications are at best gloomy.

There's an verse in the Bible that goes, " If a man slaps you on the right cheek, offer him the left." Foolish perhaps. But if we slap back, we are proving ourselves no better than the offender. By offering them the left, we are showing our kindness and greatness.The Pakatan Rakyat should withdraw the ban on the 1Malaysia slogan, and truly practice what they preach. Rather than banning 1Malaysia, PR should be clever enough to twist the slogan to their advantage, lending its advertising power to their cause. By conducting themselves in a manner beyond reproach, and embodying the principles that they stand for, then, and only then will a good and incorruptible government prevail.

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