The silly season has arrived

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  • Tuesday, 20 Mar 2018

THE so-called silly season has started as the date for the general election gets nearer. 

This is the time where politicians, in their quest to make headlines and get media coverage, would say what we consider to be the silliest things.

Our politicians probably think differently but there is also another silly breed – the voters – who get so caught up in the political battle that they turn irrational and unnecessarily emotional.

Life is short. Politicians come and go. We, the people, put them there and have the right to vote them out. It’s all in our hands.

Now, the worst, among us, are those who turn hostile even towards their family members, relatives and friends who don’t share their political allegiance.

We may be brought up with positive thinking human values in our upbringing but, everything goes out the window because of politics. Is that how we should behave? 

Should we go so low to start mudslinging even our next of kin. But, that’s in the name of politics, you may say. What has happened to wisdom of the right-thinking man?

Some of us have started to forward political propaganda, not knowing whether they are fake or real on their smart phones, to their friends and groups assuming their friends are as enthusiastic. It has never occurred to them that by doing so they have become campaigners. It is like the blind leading the blind because most of us are not good in engaging in a discourse, but sadly accept everything as the truth. 

In a democracy, freedom of discussion, expression and exchange of ideas must be accepted. Everyone is entitled to his views and opinions and it must be respected. It’s pathetic but that is what our democratic nation should stand for.

Never for a moment, must we fall for venomous comments and fake news posted on social media. Our attitudes and behaviour change with the negative influence of social media, and we got to watch this. Our thoughts should stay independent and not be swayed by politicians or campaigners.

Over the past few weeks, my regular breakfast of tosai on a banana leaf and teh tarik time has been taken up reading numerous WhatsApp messages and SMSs –some by cyber trooper and some by novices in social media.

There are so many of these messages, and Parliament has not even been dissolved.

It is so bad that some forecast 10 different possible dates.

I can visualise how our smart phone would be inundated with more political rubbish and fake claims soon. I am also tired of hearing my friends telling me what their friends of friends think and they immediately become political experts.

The best is this one stating that this GE will see a tsunami of different races swinging votes. Imagine. I am shocked at how racists some politicians are in making communal slant statements.

 The taxi drivers, Uber drivers, coffeeshop helpers and bar tenders have not only become political analysts, but experts, based on how confidently they talk.

But here’s the point I wish to make – voters should stop being silly because as a 70-year-old man and experienced journalist I have seen and lived through quite a bit. It is not worth it to be caught in the crossfire of these politicians.

Let’s be more enlightened and level headed and not swayed by warring politicians. My yoga guru advised me during meditation when negativity creeps in just don’t encourage them in your mind.

“With your eyes closed in meditation, just be an onlooker. Let thoughts come and go. Slowly negative thoughts will lose the grip on you and you will begin to think wisely.”

The older ones, among us, will recall, that in the 1970 and 80s, how villagers refused to pray together in the same mosque because of Umno-PAS political differences.

Today, things have changed. Strange bedfellows can become compromising partners.

In fact, there were reports of how family members split up because of this political rivalry in the GE.

Fast forward today, Umno and PAS have become buddies and openly show their affection for each other. 

The Umno-Pas unity today was unthinkable in the previous GE.

So one can imagine the silliness of their hardcore members, who were prepared to throw each other of the cliff.

The many nights spent listening to those fiery speeches and the many times that these villagers risked their lives and limbs, climbing trees, to put up those party flags. Oh how silly we get.

Then, there is the DAP. In the last elections, the DAP were quick to heap praises on PAS, even saying PAS was a not a party to fear. 

Bus-loads of DAP hardcore supporters visited Kota Baru to see for themselves that bak kut teh were sold there.

But, today they are critical of each other because the Opposition power-sharing dynamics has changed.

And five years later, the DAP is painting a demonic picture of their former friend. So, can you imagine how silly it has been for some, who were flying the PAS flag then.

Let’s not forget those who once hated Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and berated him for his dictatorial style, now see him as The Saviour.

Some say Dr Mahathir has returned to perform his karma, in total reversal to what he stood for before. No one can deny that his leadership had brought progress.

Who would have imagined that Dr Mahathir, Lim Kit Siang and Anwar Ibrahim can become best friends now and sharing likes on their Facebook posts? 

And again, how silly their die- hard party members must feel. But, that’s politics.

So, I now I tell my banana leaf friends – don’t waste your time on these politicians, be they with the ruling party or Opposition. 

Our time is best spent in loving, caring and helping the downtrodden who need help.

Even those in poverty-stricken areas are questioning the motives of politicians who return every five years with promises and incentives.

They would happily trade off anything for political interests and we, the poor ordinary voters, wouldn’t even be able to reach them once they get elected.

At my age, I would rather spend my mornings and evenings doing yoga, meditating and breathing exercises to energise myself then to lose my temper or calmness over political silliness. 

In short, stay calm, who cares about the politicians.

M. Krishnamoorthy, a veteran journalist for more than 35 years, is now a freelancer and teaches in an international university. 

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