Occasionally, this country comes up with something that sparkles, that provokes an involuntary smile, that cheers you up no end.
I refer to the geniuses who came up with the white flag campaign.
Now here’s an idea whose time has come. To avoid the humiliation of “begging” or pleading for government aid, distressed families have been asked to raise a white flag outside their homes and aid would, like the mail, arrive.
The idea was born out of the minds of creative Netizens on social media, and it’s taken off big time. Businesses have also pitched in with pledges to help.
What’s tactfully unsaid in all the commentary is the fact that the government has been found wanting. Because it failed to step up to the plate, Malaysians took matters into their own hands. There would have been no need for this campaign if the government had done what it’s supposed to.
The prolonged lockdown has seriously damaged the economy and pushed thousands into poverty.
These are very troubled times and nowhere is it more starkly demonstrated than the statistics for suicide which listed 336 deaths over the first three months of the year.
More than anything else, it was those appalling figures that prompted the “white flag” movement, that tugged at enough heartstrings to compel action.
Our politicians love to dwell on our differences, the better to create perceived or imagined threats that promise to forever keep some segments of society insecure, so that these politicians can continue to justify their existence, their grip on power.
The white flag initiative promises to transcend these petty notions. And the people behind this campaign instinctively grasp what the government seems incapable of: you cannot do kindness too soon because you never know how soon will be too late.
Meanwhile, if you’re not part of the solution, then don’t be part of the problem. Or at the very least get out of the way. Better still, shut up.
Take the MP from Bachok, Nik Abduh Nik Aziz. As a child, he fancied a career in counter-intelligence. Looks like he made it, too.
The MP chided people for hoisting the white flag as those who admit defeat to challenges “from God.” He then brightly added that they would be better served “by praying.”
Unsurprisingly, this rocket scientist hails from Pas, an obscure party of obscure people with obscurantist views that have, apparently, never heard of the phrase “God helps those who help themselves.”
The same God also gave people a brain so that they might use reason and act with kindness aforethought.
But Mr Nik could be the exception that proves the rule, being proof himself that God does, indeed, have a sense of humour.
And then there is the Chief Minister of Kedah who seems to have a worldview shaped by the Cro-Magnon period. He’s threatened to deny state aid to anyone who hoists the white flag. Reason: it’s “propaganda” against the government.
Well, if the shoe fits…
As a former journalist who’s covered enough Pas ceramah to know, it might be instructive to share this.
When any Pas event is unfolding, the organisers literally pass a bag around. That’s how the party raises its money. You might say it’s its white flag.
This bag-passing should cease and desist. That would be conceding defeat, wouldn’t it?
No, these God-fearing people would be better served by prayer.