It’s the latest sweet refrain


  • Opinion
  • Friday, 12 Sep 2008

?I’VE never really been good at remembering dates. No, not that kind of dates, but events like birthdays, anniversaries, and public holidays.

There have been occasions when I have had trouble knowing what the day’s date is.

This incapacity of mine too often gets me into tricky situations, especially with the wife. But I’ve learned to live with it and to twist it to my advantage now and then.

Pretending to not remember what day it is and later presenting a pleasant surprise to the person who is terribly upset with you for not remembering has its rewards, I tell you.

At the very least, it can be the ace up your sleeve (some might describe it as a “get out of jail” card) to be brought out the next time you really do forget what day it is.

That said, now that this tactic has been made public, I will have to either devise a new one or really start committing the do-not-forget-upon-pain-of-death dates to memory.

One date that has been relentlessly drummed into my head over the past few weeks is Sept 16.

It’s in the newspapers, on television, on the Internet, everywhere you look.

It’s like there’s this voice echoing in your head, reminding you, “September 16, September 16”, over and over again.

It has become so pervasive that you can already see some referring to it as simply “916”.

I mean, whoa, hold your horses, cowboy. Let’s leave that sort of hyperbole to the Americans.

And over here, we use the day/month date format.

More importantly, don’t you think whatever it is that’s going to happen (or not happen) this coming Tuesday in our wonderful little country will, however you look at it, pale in comparison to the horrible tragedy and unfortunate global significance of the “911” terrorist attacks?

Yes, I understand that if Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim manages to pull off his much-touted political manoeuvre, it would undeniably be an event of quite massive proportions, as far as Malaysia is concerned.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s keep our emotions in check.

Let’s see Anwar pull the rabbit out of the hat first before we start going “916” all over the place. As it stands, he has some serious obstacles in his way.

No matter how ridiculous it sounds, dozens of Barisan Nasional backbenchers are off on a study tour – on agriculture – in Taiwan.

Barisan members of Parliament who want to defect will defect, no matter where they may be, but being in Taiwan makes it that much harder to strategise their defections in the remaining days leading up to “the big day”.

I can just imagine how tense and nerve-wracking it is over there right now, with everyone eyeing each other with suspicion and people practically jumping every time someone’s mobile phone rings.

It is going to be difficult to talk to the defectors while they’re busy learning about Taiwanese agriculture in the company of other MPs, especially with Barisan loyalists around.

Plus, there is Anwar’s ongoing trial on a sodomy charge, which if you think about it, is a much larger obstacle than a bunch of MPs sequestered away in a far-off land.

At the end of the day, this obsession with equating Sept 16 with what Anwar is promising to do can be construed as an insult to our fellow Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak.

Anwar chose the date largely for political reasons, but what is “real” with Sept 16 is that it is the day that Sabah, Sarawak and the Federation of Malaya came together to form Malaysia.

I have to admit that I never really felt anything for Malaysia Day until recently. In a twisted kind of way, it has taken something almost totally unrelated to the formation of Malay-sia to make me realise the historical significance of Sept 16.

And I suspect it is so for many of us in peninsular Malaysia.

In this regard, I dare say we have been guilty of taking Sabahans and Sarawakians, our fellow Malaysians, for granted.

Further from home, Sept 16 is an eventful day in the world’s history, if you would care to check it out on Wikipedia.

On that day, automobile giant General Motors was founded, the Montreal Protocol was signed to protect the ozone layer from depletion, and the first game of softball was played.

On that day, David Copperfield, Nick Jonas of The Jonas Brothers (your kids will know him), and, irony of ironies, Lee Kuan Yew were born.

And on that day, singer Marc Bolan, grand inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada, and German scientist Gabriel Fahrenheit (yes, he of the temperature scale) died.

Until there is a Wikepedia entry on the toppling of the Barisan Nasional government through mass defections instigated by Anwar on Sept 16, let’s restrain ourselves and approach the day with a calm and cool demeanour.

Raslan Sharif will be working on Sept 16, unless it’s declared a holiday.

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