All good things...

  • Watching The World
  • Sunday, 23 Dec 2018

Eye in the sky: Keep watching; it’s clear that even when a man steps off it ... the world keeps turning.

I have been waiting for this moment all my life. That’s what I told my friends at The Star as it began to be clear that after 61 years, the government was going to change.

I think I was most excited about the gift of press freedom. Whether we admitted it or not, the outgoing government had a vested interest in suppressing the truth. From issues as wide-ranging as the redrawing of electoral boundaries to the financial atrocities of the 1MDB scandal, the truth was being suppressed.

And so it came to pass, and a new era was ushered in, but we have already seen so many signs that things are not going to be as simple as we could have wished for.

There is always a good excuse, it seems, for not delivering on promises.

When the PTPTN proposal was rolled back, most of us willingly accepted the U-turn, because we felt that Pakatan had been too soft on the borrowers.

When GST vanished but SST returned ... well, what the hell was the difference really? Seemed like prices were still up, and wages were still stagnant.

Even something as seemingly simple as child marriage made me realise that there is no one-size-fits-all panacea because there are less educated communities in which a lack of marriage to legitimise teen pregnancies will simply lead to more abandoned babies turning up dead. And surely we don’t want that.

As for the Icerd debate, it proved to me that the old Malaysia created too many people who aren’t educated enough to engage in intellectual debate. Were there so many people so imbecilic that they wanted to protest for the right to discriminate?

And as for the possibility of ex-Umno MPs hopping over to be part of the Pakatan government, well, that’s a downright revolting prospect.

If the new government drags its feet over every change, then nothing will be different. Into the vast empty spaces created by inaction and indecision will step more and more hardline elements of the society and we may see more tragedies like the Seafield temple.

At what point is the honeymoon over?

It was clear that enough people recognised the possibility of a kleptocratic regime bringing us all down, but maybe not enough to want real change.

Does the current prime minister want selective prosecution of the corrupt? Or is he going to go all the way? Should we investigate Maika, the wealth of the former Sarawak Chief Minister and former Finance minister? Should we have an unexplained wealth law?

In the midst of all this often infuriating, sometimes joyous uncertainty, I find myself turning a corner.

At 23 years, my tenure in The Star has given me the longest continuous relationship of my life, but it comes to an end now.

The industries I have best known – that of music and print media – are changing almost beyond recognition, and it’s time for me to meet new challenges.

I have been truly blessed at The Star, and known some extraordinary people whom I loved deeply. I first began writing columns with its Day & Night magazine in the 1990s and was allowed to indulge my passion for music history with the “Music Myths and Legends” column which ran from September 2002 to September 2012.

This particular column, “Watching the World”, began in July 2013 and has undergone quite a metamorphosis since GE14. I used to address issues a little more subtly.

For example, in 2014, I wrote about Daviz Simango, a politician from Mozambique whose parents Uria and Celina were executed, the former after a show trial and forced public confession. I wrote about it when it became clear that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was going to be jailed again in what was clearly a politically motivated prosecution.

When I wrote about people from minority communities taking their country’s top job, it was to allude what I think Malaysia should be – a country where anyone can aspire to contribute fully, instead of one filled with glass ceilings of race, religion and gender.

I was fascinated by situations around the world with lessons that could be applied here, but the thing is, after May 9, there was nowhere as near as interesting as Malaysia.

I changed my style and found a whole new audience for which I am grateful.

So for now folks, let me thank you for what’s been a thrilling ride.

Keep watching, for it’s clear that even when a man steps off it ... the world keeps turning.

The Star news editor Martin Vengadesan is just sitting here watching the world go around and round.

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Opinion , Politics , Martin Vengadesan


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