Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Malaysia well in the red

Dean Johns

What, I wonder, aside from self-revealing unconscious symbolism, could possibly explain Umno’s strange and apparently growing obsession with the colour red?

Yes, I’m aware that the Umno symbol, the design with what looks like two face-to-face snake-heads on top and crossed kerises down below, usually if not always appears in the colour red.

perkasa tibai umno red shirt in merlimau malacca ambiga event 2But lately there seems to be such a growing rash of redness - red T-shirts, red headbands and such - that I’m starting to get my hopes up that the Umno may be unwittingly making itself look increasingly off-colour.

In all kinds of ways, starting in no particular order with the fact that, as everybody in the world well knows, the political ideology most strongly associated with the colour red is communism.

Witness the US anti-communist cold-war slogan ‘Better dead than red’, and appellations like ‘Red China’, Moscow’s ‘Red Square’ and the name of the capital of formerly communist Mongolia, Ulan Bator, which I understand translates to ‘Red Star’.

Adopting the same colour as communism seems a decidedly perverse move on Umno’s part, given the Umno/BN regime’s penchant for raising the spectre of communism as one of the sinister foreign forces secretly backing Malaysia’s opposition parties.

sabah kudat chinese temple 140109And Umno’s obsession with red makes as little sense racially as it does politically, in light of the powerful part that red plays in traditional Chinese culture, as in ‘red envelopes’ for festive gifts and the colour of temples.

Speaking of which, red is all wrong for Umno in the religious context too, as green is the colour of Islam, the faith that Umno so falsely claims to respect, represent and defend.

In fact, aside from its significance of welcoming important personages, as in the ‘red carpet’ concept, or its sheer brightness to all save sufferers of red-green colour-blindness, I can see no benefit whatever for Umno in its redness addiction.

Danger and bloodshed

But as a critic and opponent of Umno - or more accurately of the dirty deeds of its past and present members, cronies and supporters rather than the party per se - I see its chosen colour as so rich in appropriately negative symbolism as the proverbial red rag to a bull.

Let’s face it, red most vividly and universally signifies danger and/or bloodshed, and thus when additionally associated with Umno inevitably evokes the ever-present threat of violence against those who dare oppose Malaysia’s ruling regime, as in Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s call to “defend Purajaya” even if bodies are crushed and lives lost.

azlanIt also serves as a chilling reminder of the bloody record of Malaysia’s forces of so-called law and order in their systematic killing of ‘suspects’ in alleged ‘shootouts’ as well as those in custody as in the cases of Teoh Beng Hock, A Kugan, Altantuya Shaariibuu and countless others.

And as long as we’re on the subject of bloodshed, there’s the carnage on the roads that the Umno government, its police and even Malaysian voters perennially fail to see as a red alert that something is radically wrong with enforcement of the traffic regulations.

Nor, despite its penchant for redness, does the Umno-dominant regime show the slightest readiness to repair the deadly damage it has progressively done to Malaysia’s civil institutions.

The prime minister’s endless promises of reforms to such Umno-butchered entities as the judiciary, police, media and electoral system are nothing but a pack of bleeding lies.

NONEAnd the sandiwara intended to divert Malaysians’ attentions from their abuse by the Umno/BN regime, like the expensive importation of pandas from red China in an attempt to pander to animal lovers, and freebies and festivals for red-shirted youths, petty traders and taxi-drivers, are nothing but expensive red herrings.

All paid for with public money, of course, and thus, along with the unceasing, unremitting fraud, embezzlement, theft and wastage for which Umno/BN and its cronies are so notorious, all helping drive the Malaysian economy ever deeper into the red.

But even when Umno robbers are caught red-handed, as in scandals like those involving the Scorpene sumarines, National Feedlot Corporation and Advanced Air Traffic Systems, to name just a few of countless financial outrages, they deny their guilt with barely a blush.

Nor do they apparently feel in the slightest red-faced about telling highly-coloured stories, not to say outright lies, about anything and everything else.

Among this week’s collection of scarlet falsehoods unblushingly uttered by Umno spokespersons was Najib’s dismissal of proposed public debates between regime and opposition leaders with the fallacious excuse that such debates are “not (part of) the country’s political culture”.

mahathir and umno 190508Never to be outdone in the red-hot rhetorical rubbish department, former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad weighed in with a blog in which he claimed that ‘Malaysia has developed beyond expectations and the people have a good life’ thanks to Umno/BN, and thus people should vote with their heads, not out of hatred whipped-up by critics of the regime.

Another lot of ruddy rot was the statement by Election Commission chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof’s contention that political parties wishing to take advantage of the government’s “concession” allowing them to present their election manifesto on Radio Television Malaysia would have to be pre-recorded “to avoid sensitivities detrimental to an individual’s personality, race and religion as well as security and public order”.

And then came a recruitment video for the BN Youth Volunteers (BNYV) initiative, in which BNYV head and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin appealed for young people willing to spread the regime message by word of mouth and via the social media with the Josef Goebbels-style ‘big lie’ message that “If you repeat something 1,000 times, people will believe it. If you say the sky is red 1,000 times, people will go outside and look at the sky.”

What an absolute bloody disgrace. And what a glowing example, as if we needed another one, of why Malaysia under Umno/BN is sinking deeper, not just financially but also legally, socially and ethically, into the red.

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