I wonder if our ministers or our politicians read what people say about them on social media?
I wish they would. Perhaps then, they might be less inclined to say things that just mystifies the hell out of the average person.
On Thursday, the Minister of Federal Territories Annuar Musa, for example, said what can only be described as bizarre. He said that the public’s seeming indifference, their lack of fear in their flouting of restrictions, indicated that the government had been successful in its handling of the pandemic.
It usually takes a woman to make fools of men, but Mr Annuar seems like a do-it-yourself type.
But perhaps mindful of the fact that it took an election in Sabah to destroy the good the first movement control order (MCO) did for Covid numbers, he may just have been thinking of Homer Simpson: “Stupidity got us into this mess, and stupidity will get us out.”
It was the writer Henry David Thoreau who said, “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” In an ideal world, it is a phrase that’s frequently used to justify following one’s passion and achieving a life that avoids the mediocrity of playing it small but safe.
But this is not an ideal world. Far from it. It’s a pandemic and things are falling apart because, going by the minister, the centre isn’t making sense. What Mr Annuar does not grasp is that the mass of Malaysians are truly leading lives of forlorn desperation and that is why some flout the rules.
They are desperate for jobs, desperate to meet friends and family, desperate for company, desperate for hope. The last thing they need is a glibly asinine statement by a minister who ought to know better.
Then there is lockdown fatigue. A Malaysian recently estimated on Twitter that from Match 18 last year to June 28 this year Malaysians would have spent 464 days at home under various government control orders. That would depress anyone into flouting some rules.
One gets the impression that many people are sick and tired of their leaders. When Tajudin Abdul Rahman’s woeful attempt at humour in describing a train wreck earned him a well-deserved sack from a lucrative chairmanship, it’s instructive to note that a petition calling for his sack garnered 150,000 signatures.
Clearly, it wasn’t the petition that swayed the Prime Minister. If it did, then Azmin Ali, the Minister of International Trade, should worry: a petition calling for his ouster garnered over 300,000 signatures and, like a rash, continues to grow.
And to think the Prime Minister promised, when he took over, that his would be a government of “competence.”
It’s more like a government of controversy, recently attracting unnecessary criticism by contemplating the sale – sans competitive bidding – of Subang Airport to a billionaire, for a period of almost 70 years. And this despite protests from every government agency linked to the site including Khazanah Nasional, the federal government’s sovereign wealth fund.
The Klang Valley does not need new malls, skyscrapers or condominiums. What it does need are more green lungs, more parks and more open spaces. If they had their way, these billionaires might actually fulfill Joni Mitchel’s prediction: they’d pave Paradise and put up a parking lot.