Archive for July 25th, 2017

We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. — George Orwell


False Choices:


How Thaya Got It Wrong


This responds to S Thayaparan who wrote Why vote for the Opposition?

Thaya’s case is persuasive but still doesn’t convincingly say why, why, why the Opposition? All that Thaya has dealt with is the fact that, given the two sides are quite nearly the same, an overbearing Barisan has done more than the Opposition to alienate itself from the populace: You could trust it no more.

Yes, and true.

Follow that Thaya line of thought arrives at his ultimate proposition, there is a chance — and it’s just a chance — the Opposition could go a little side way. A “little better,” he says. A little better here, little better there.

Malaysia’s political pathway, already paved and set in concrete, (meaning, for example, the Constitution) would however stay the same. But — and this is where Thaya detours — change the politician tour drivers, you might find the baggage different, perhaps lighter, less antagonistic, less poisonous, more useful, a little better to travel with.

All that, mind you, is a just a hope — Harapan. Hoping is good, but wait a minute….

Where would they take us? Thaya doesn’t say, and doesn’t need to. Remember the road is already paved. But, wherever it takes Malaysia, keep your eye on the politicians. Thaya:

Vote because you hope that regime change will make it possible, easier for actual change to happen….

‘Hope’ for a ‘possible’? What gobbledygook is that because Thaya is actually saying, let’s hope on a hope!

More to the point, Thaya’s terms constitute the entire electoral vocabulary of the Opposition and he, stepping right into it, could ignore and then threw out an established fact he started out with, which is, the two sides are the same color, only shaded differently.

Put it another way, a vote for the Opposition, since it being fundamentally the same as Barisan, is basically a bet. And it is not even a calculated bet. It’s a throw of the dice — betting on one number only, going one direction only, and stopping at only one color .

Thaya bets that things might — this is, may — be a ‘little better’. He’s not even hoping for ‘much better’ or a turn around, instead just ‘a little’.

A little? Is our vote so pitiful because, if things turn out going the opposite direction, what then? This is entirely possible. The Middle East is up in flames today on the same bet: an existing regime is so useless and corrupt, everybody — from Americans to Arabs and English girls — fell for ISIS and variants thereof.

Orwell was right:

One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes a revolution in order to establish a dictatorship.

In that situation, Thaya regurgitates the Opposition apologia: should things fail to turn out as ‘hoped’ for, vote them out the next time. Vote them out? Like trying to vote out Barisan in 2008 and 2013? He means like vote back in Najib because Thaya is today going to vote for Mahathir Mohamad!

There is, of course, nothing good to be said about Barisan. But this is wrong! It’s not Barisan. In the Peninsula and in Sabah, there’s only Umno. It is, after all, the only thing left inside Barisan so that, really, the dilemma — Harapan or Barisan — that Thaya has presented is essentially a false dichotomy.

Or, look at Harapan now.

Using seats, using numbers, two-thirds of Harapan are ex-Umno. If you add PAS, which was born from the rib of Umno, the proportion rises to four-fifths. (Which explains why Thaya sees, rightfully, that there is little or no difference between the two coalitions.) Mahathir, equaling all the Malays present in Harapan, represents the start of that trajectory downwards.

A vote for Harapan is a vote for the back to the beginning of Malaysia’s problems. In that, Thaya refuses to say, or he simply doesn’t see. (Maybe his mustache is getting in the way.)

This raises the question: If the Barisan is not the problem central, what is it about Umno, as the nation’s driver, that makes it so despicable since, as it is established, the road is already set? The answer, really, is simple: It represents all the things that showed Malaysia has had a wrong driver for 60 years.

The operative word where Thaya is concerned is, driver — not the driving.

Therefore, as Thaya suggests, keep an eye on the driver-politicians. But, if he were to replace one bad driver for another, what hope is there? This is where Thaya mistakes one tree for the forest: it is not the driver per se but what the driver represents that’s utterly wrong with Umno — whether the wrong is inside Umno or outside is not the point. Outside would include Harapan.

In another manner of speaking, we are, when voting, looking for traits in driver not looking for driver. Here’s a suggested list of traits:

  • bigotry, via religious & race morality,
  • duplicity,
  • lying,
  • fraudulent conduct, and
  • stupidity.

Note that race per se or religion per se aren’t present in your vote considerations. Note also that all the above are negative qualities for the obvious reason the positive can only be known by its opposite, which is easier to discover.

We all like fault finding. How to find fault? Answer, listen to what they say and see what they do. Also recall the dictum, we are known by the company we keep: God keeps Satan, Angel Gabriel keeps Serpent, Ong Kian Ming keeps Yeo Bee Yin, Najib Razak keeps Hadi Awang, Lim Kit Siang keeps Mahathir Mohamad. You know God for what Satan is. You know Lim Kit Siang because of Mahathir, both opportunistic for power.

Start, therefore, with the first of the five criteria and the rest falls into place. Seeing that as the first criterion in your decision, you simply vote for its opposite, regardless if that’s a Harapan logo on the ballot or a Barisan flag.

[Example: In a Selangor constituency where it is Yeo Bee Yin (DAP) versus Siti Zabedah Kasim (Independent), I’d pick Siti, without much thinking because Yeo and Siti have already made my decision. No need to attend ceramahs, no need to listen to speeches because those are created only for the moment.

[Example again: Between Najib and Mahathir, your choice seems befuddling but it can’t be Mahathir using the five-point trait list. If, however, there is a third candidate then your decision clears up immediately. In another situation that’s a contest among PSM, Harapan and Barisan, fault finding and the principle of association will again help. Pick PSM obviously. Between PAS and Umno, choose Umno because, adopting negativity as a principle, you don’t want PAS to win.]

Like the inevitability that morning will happen when you go to sleep, so too it is with political characters. When Yeo’s fraudulent character shows up on the ballot, you will see her contestant-opposite. If still in doubt, two weeks after the candidacies are announced, then go home. Do nothing. Either way, you aren’t betting, and the vote is too precious to make a Thaya bet. Nothing is lost. Nothing. Nothing can get worse than it already is. After that let the dice find its place. Embrace anarchy, embrace uncertainty. Let the river flows where it wills. Your vote done, you are free from the false Thayaparan dichotomy — Harapan or Barisan — free from two equally bad options.

The point in all that is not to let Thayaparan and a two-sided, Barisan v Harapan contest narrow down or, worse, negate your choices.

That’s what a Thaya false dichotomy leads to, it cuts down your options to just one and so explains why the Opposition refuses to tolerate a third party in a contest. This refusal is against everything democracy stands for. So, in pleading language, it says give Harapan a chance. And how to give it chance? Thaya adds: Let’s go back and begin from the same point in time, the same spot that led to Malaysia’s ‘failed state’ (Kit Siang’s words) — Mahathir! After that, let’s hope about Mahathir even though the man is a matter of written record, in book-thick sizes. This utter illogicism is incredulous and that’s coming from some mind called ‘Commander’.

Pray tell, Thaya, what happened? Got up from the wrong side of bed? Missed your daily Masjid India goat’s milk? Or age catching up fast. You poor fella; you should change your reading list. Orwell:

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.


Here’s something youthful to wake you up, Commander.

Within two days 2 million hits and that’s just outside China mainland.



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