Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad’s latest blog-posting is still causing shock waves to reverberate around the nation. An unguarded reference to his ruling coalition UMNO-BN as the "Devil we know, than the Angel (the Opposition) we don’t know" has caused many tongues to wag and heads to shake.
Most English speakers would recognize the metaphor that he used to point out that Malaysians should vote in the BN at the next general election which is looming. But surprise, surprise…every one is taking his word literally and this is indeed food for thought for himself and the BN government.
Judging from the thousands of adverse comments that flooded cyberspace, not only are Malaysians giving Mahathir a taste of his own medicine - a special cocktail of sarcasm and insinuation - they genuinely do seem think of the BN as the Devil and Mahathir as Dr Evil.
Many are fed up with him
Even after retirement, Mahathir's speeches have continued to reek of racism and his thoughts seem weird for an experienced former Head of State. Is he sensationalizing just to grab the headlines from Prime Minister Najib Razak, whom he openly endorses but privately regards as a buffoon?
Mahathir seems to think that Malaysians are still intellectually backward and unable to read his thoughts and actions. Lately some of his public statements have been downright shocking, leaving the Rakyat (citizens) reeling in disbelief and protest.
For example, Malaysia's Dr Evil says he is no intellectual, and then quickly points out that it doesn’t require an intellectual to run this country. Such a 'loaded' statement as this not only leaves 'pretty face' Najib embarrassed by the insinuation that he is a 'tin kosong' (empty vessel), it also confirms the views of the Rakyat that Malaysia is actually running on auto-pilot!
No, the BN is not doing a thing and only interested in their own money-making schemes. No wonder, our country is in such a rotten state compared to the little red dot down south (Singapore).
Thanks to such back-handed 'compliments' and a host of other griping comments that eventually lead back to one thing - Mahathir is the BEST and the ONLY ONE who could do anything for Malaysia - it is no wonder that the BN's credibility has sunk below zero and many even say it is already deep in negative territory.
Maybe, that’s why Malaysians are now trying to act dumb and taking at face value every word he says about angels and devils. For sure, they have made up their minds which side of Heaven, he stands on. The 'Angels' - as Mahathir was 'kind' enough to tag the Opposition - are also having a good laugh about it. Padan Muka UMNO! (Serves UMNO right!)
The politics of 'Syaitan & Iblis'
Now that the ‘Devil’ word has been by coined by 'Dr Evil' himself to denote BN, the terminology will takes its place in the annals of Malaysian Politics, together with other great words like ‘Janji ditepati’, 1Malaysia and Malaysia Boleh!
The furor is getting bigger day by day, with the Malay press and blogs picking up on the BN's 'Syaitan' politics (the politics of Satan). BN leaders may have giggled initially but the worry lines and frowns are deepening on their faces. Dr Evil's comments have boomeranged and upset BN politicians are now trying their level best to contain the damage.
Suddenly, everyone is starting to look at BN in a different light that is Scary. The Pakatan Rakyat is portrayed by Mahathir as Angels. Not only does his remark drive home the point with the urban electorate, already restless and desirous of change, the rural folk too may re-evaluate their voting options. After all, who in their right minds would want to consummate with the Devil?
For the Chinese in particular, with the onset of the month-long 'Hungry Ghost' festival, where the Chinese believe the Gates of Hell will open to let all lost souls return and wander around the Earth, no superstitious individual would want to have anything to do with the Devil. Some won't even make any long trips for fear of having an accident with a ghost!
And for the superstitious Malays who spend a lot of time watching the wide array of 'Syaitan', 'Jin' and other graveyard movies on television, those who are not laughing will not be amused either. The more religious would already be on alert to warn Muslims against any negative teachings and Mahathir - frankly speaking - is not that popular with the ulama or religious scholars for ramming down their throats his controversial views through the decades.
Even ultra-conservative PAS leaders like Dr Haron Din have come out to condemn Mahathir’s depiction as dangerous quoting the Al Quran to never glorify or to say that the Devil is a better choice than an Angel. Metaphorically speaking or not, this is strictly disallowed.
Dr Haron went on to say that Mahathir has contradicted himself because the public, especially the Muslims believes that the Devil is the most ruthless and rebellious of God’s creatures. And as a former top leader of the country who led the UMNO-BN government for 22 years, it is highly improper for Mahathir to make such a statement or to even label a person or organization with such a bad tag.
Meanwhile, PAS’ revered Spiritual Leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat has also warned that such unwarranted and unwise quotes would only hasten UMNO's demise. He also called on Muslims to learn and differentiate between the Devil and the Angel so that they would not be led astray by the whispers of Satan.
So yes, the Malays too are very concerned and many are confused with Mahathir's bad choice of words. Can it be so innocent or is he indeed Satan's whisperer as some have accused him to be? How can Mahathir - a born Muslim not know that all who belong to the Islamic faith are taught from day one to detest and to have NOTHING whatsoever to do with the Devil. Yet there he is, actually telling the whole country to choose himself and BN even though they may be the Devil, and not the Opposition even though the latter may be the Angel.
From denying he's a Dictator to denying he's a Devil
Perhaps the brouhaha is best summed up by the words of one commentator:
“MADEY BETUL-BETUL TELAH MENJATUHKAN NAMA BAIK BN DENGAN BERKATA BN TU SYAITAN, TAU LAH MASYARAKAT ISLAM MEMANG PANTANG DAN BENCI PERKATAAN SYAITAN DAN SUKA PERKATAAN MALAIKAT. RAMAI MELAYU TEMASUK MELAYU BN AKAN MENGUNDI PAKATAN KERANA TAK NAK BERSEKONGKOL DENGAN PERKATAAN SYAITAN.”
Mahathir has really spoiled the name of BN this time by saying that BN is the Devil. Doesn't he know that for the Islamic community, Satan is so taboo and so hated while on the other hand, Muslims adore Angels. Many Malays including BN Malays will vote Pakatan now, because they would not want to be associated with the Devil.
It is also ironic that several weeks ago, Mahathir himself had lashed out against people who tagged him as a 'Dictator'. He lamented the use of tagging or stereotyping a person so as to destroy that person's political career. Mahathir insisted he was not a Dictator, compared himself to the Middle Eastern despots like Mubarak and Gaddaffi, and then challenged Malaysians to state why he should deserve to be called Dictator.
Malaysians responded with thousands of comments and the thumping verdict was that he - like or not - was a Dictator in their eyes. Same as now, in the eyes of most Malaysians, BN is indeed the Devil for stealing so much of their wealth and he as its chief architect would be the Dr Evil.
As the saying goes, poetic justice and what goes around comes around!
Written by Iskandar Dzulkarnain, Wong Choon Mei