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Published: Thursday September 25, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday September 25, 2014 MYT 10:19:38 AM

An era coming to an end

A lot of strange things have been going on that must surely be a sign of the end of something.

THERE is a belief among some people that one of the signs of the end of times is when really strange things start to happen. I was never one of those because often “strange” can be quite subjective. There are some who think women taking leadership positions is one of those strange events.

But of late I have had to revise my view of this, although it may not coincide with the same theories that those people have. It is true, however, that a lot of strange things have been going on that, to me, must surely be a sign of the end of something. Maybe it’s not quite the end of the world, but certainly the end of an era, at least for some people.

For instance, we are now seeing this bizarre phenomenon of the nation’s top cop deciding that if anyone has the temerity to be “biadap” (rude) about his law enforcement agency or even himself, then he’ll use the Sedition Act against us.

Now, I don’t recall that the Act actually says we can’t pass a snide remark or two about the agency. After all we are all familiar with that remark “itu biasa lah” whenever we’ve had the misfortune to have to report a bag-snatching or a petty theft.

Would saying that such a remark is not be­coming of law enforcement officers be consi­dered “biadap”? Would saying that our top cop’s performance in front of the world media during the MH370 press conferences was far short of impressive make us liable to be arrested? If yes, then there are lots of people who would be in handcuffs by now.

Today you can get done in for giving an expert opinion that some governance processes were not legally kosher, or for saying that elections are the time for us to change governments if we wanted. Isn’t that what elections are for?

Undoubtedly some people have been foolish enough to let loose on social media things they would only say privately to friends. But that’s a very Gen Y thing to do, say everything you feel and put it up for all to see. It doesn’t necessarily mean you mean it, nor that you even had much reason to say it. But those get hauled up, too. Will this actually stop more ill-considered opi­nions being aired? I doubt it.

Yet these are the sorts of strange things that one can get charged for these days. Even stranger is the penchant for the same said officer to refuse to obey the laws under which he should operate. In all our 57 years of nationhood, there has never been confusion among our law enforcement officers as to what laws they are supposed to obey.

Suddenly, these days they are easily confused. And when compelled by the courts to do their job, they find the country’s top legal man, whose job is to protect the Federal Constitution, to become their lawyer.

That’s a lot of firepower to fight one poor beleaguered mother who just wants to have her children with her. They must think she’s darn powerful to warrant this type of abuse of the courts.

I even think that the UPSR leaks, as well as the response to it, are also a sign of the end. For one thing, why so much panic over an exam that 12-year-olds sit for? And secondly, although the leakers should be punished, why bother making all 473,175 pupils re-sit it?

Leak or not, the smart ones are still going to get good results. So we might as well wait for the results of the entire exam and see if there are any real anomalies such as those who normally don’t do well suddenly getting all As. Frankly, I doubt it.

So these strange events, as well as some others, are a sign that an era is coming to an end. Perhaps it is the end of doing things the same old way when things are changing rapidly every day. It is the end of a time when people all think and see things the same way. Nor is it any longer a time when people will not voice what they don’t like.

Einstein said that the surest sign of insanity is doing the same things repeatedly while expecting a different result. In our case, we are seeing the same things done more incompetently while expecting love and respect in return.

I’m not sure what to call that.

> Marina Mahathir is a human rights activist who works on women, children and HIV/AIDS issues. Her column in this newspaper goes back 25 years and has likewise evolved because, in her own words, “she probably thinks too much for her own good.” Marina continues to speak out and crusade for causes that she passionately believes in. The views expressed here are entirely her own.

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