Irony is a funny thing.     

Consider Najib Razak and his current concept of time. When he was Premier, he was so busy, there just wasn’t enough time in a day. Now that he’s serving it, it’s a whole new game and no fun at all unless you’re Kermit the Frog: “Time’s fun when you’re having flies.” 

Actually, everyone appears to have had an ironic makeover of sorts, even the ever-scheming Dr M. He’s evolved from acclaimed Malay champion to deposit-losing reject only to resurface as self-proclaimed ethnic champion through tie-ups with rabid fringe groups. 

Meanwhile, his worst nightmare has materialised:  Anwar Ibrahim, his former nemesis and much maligned deputy, is now calling the shots as Prime Minister in his own, ironic bow to the vagaries of fate.  

It appears that while anyone is free to rage against the dying of the light, Karma can, and will, continue to be a bitch!

Irony reigns supreme. It was the work of one of the world’s great pacifists, Albert Einstein, which spawned the world’s deadliest weapon. And it was with that in mind when he predicted: “I don’t know what weapons will be used during World War Three but World War Four will be fought with sticks and stones.”

The Bible is the world’s best-selling book and has consistently been so for the longest time. Ironically, it’s also the most shoplifted book in the United States – which says much about the moral underpinnings of petty crime in America.

The actor Charlie Chaplin’s walk was much imitated during the era of silent films. But when the man himself entered a “Charlie Chaplin walk” contest, he was placed 20th.

How do you shut down your foes? Simple, when you have rich members like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, you just buy their silence. Once a leading anti-cult network, the Cult Awareness Network was silenced permanently after it was bought over by the Church of Scientology. 

In the 1990s in Kuala Lumpur, Yomeishu, a famous Japanese herbal brandy, sued a rival Malaysian make that claimed similar properties, one of which, famously, had to do with male potency.  

The Judge hearing the case seemed especially interested in that alleged virtue. The following exchange took place between said Judge and the chairman of Yomeishu Japan, then on the witness stand: 

Judge: So your drink helps male potency, does it?

Witness:  It does 

Judge: How does it work? Do you drink it or apply it?

Witness goes into a giggling fit. It isn’t clear if the judge was being ironic but, for those interested, the correct answer is to drink it. 

For the record, I covered the case for the Far Eastern Economic Review then. It must have been a dry week. 

Even the Beatles got roped into the irony act. In 2002, a tree was planted in a Los Angeles Park to honour the band’s guitarist George Harrison who’d passed away in the city a year earlier. 

Unfortunately, the tree died after a year owing to an infestation of beetles.  

Finally, the lyrics of Alanise Morisette’s 1996 hit Ironic does not evoke the quality in the slightest, an admission the songwriter herself made later.

There’s irony for you.  



Time, time, time, See what’s become of me, While I look around,  For my possibility – Paul Simon’s A Hazy Shade of Winter 

 For sincere advice and the correct time, call any number at random after 3 a.m. – Comedian Steve Martin 

In the metaphysics of Hindu philosophy, we are all eternal beings residing in a temporal shell, a body, if you like. And we go on forever because we are eternal.

It’s even grounded in science: the first law of thermodynamics posits that energy cannot be created or destroyed. I can hear the sceptics: who says it’s energy? 

The counter is obvious: who says it’s not?  

If true, then time as we know it, only exists here. It is a man-made construct and only has relevance here on Earth. Shorn of dogma and other doctrinal trappings, I suspect most religions point to the same thing. No offence intended all round as this isn’t meant to be a spiritual discourse. Consider it a preamble to a rueful ramble through the temporal bramble.  

My point: if time is a man-made construct and completely irrelevant to our immortal spirit, couldn’t the powers-that-be have made that clear when we were growing up? 

Do you remember being woken up at the crack of dawn to go to school? That’s when good men of reason realise that the amount of sleep needed by an average person is always five minutes more. 

Everything was relative when we were young: the school hours felt interminable, while the holidays whizzed by. 

Over time, the arguments changed occasionally.  

I remember whining that if I’d only had an hour more during my Biochemistry lab finals – already going on eight hours! – I’d have aced it. It was unadulterated poppycock, of course, but All Was Vanity then.  

During high school, life seemed perpetually stuck in the slow lane: disconcerting during a time of rampaging hormones and dreams of greatness.  

I couldn’t wait to get out and know women, to grasp life by the scruff of its neck, to understand what it meant when they said the world’s your oyster. 

All too suddenly, life’s needle dropped into its fast forward groove and I was like beamed-up, transforming from callow, if pimply, boy to hairy man: a voter, a tax-payer, a husband, a father.  

Life had grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, and I’d been found wanting. I don’t know how I went from adik (younger brother) to abang (older brother), and all-too-suddenly, Uncle.  I guess Grandpop must be waiting around the corner. 

Time marches on but they should have warned us it would be across our faces. In relative terms, things are more like they are now than they have ever been before. Now we can finally understand what Lucy observed in Peanuts: “The secret of life is to hang around long enough to get used to it.” 

If you think about it, life is ironic. The philosopher Kierkegaard must have thought so as well because he observed that “while life was best understood backwards, it had to be lived forwards.” I suppose that’s what people mean when they talk about “age bringing a certain perspective.” 

Well, I still haven’t got it and I wish it would hurry up and tell me. I mean, they say time is a great teacher and all, but it has a certain downside. 

It kills off all its pupils.