“If I was appointed as the premier again, the first thing I will do is censor the internet. The time has come for us to filter the internet. Although I gave my word to the Multimedia Super Corridor adviser when I was the PM, I did not give assurances the internet would not be filtered. At that time, I did not know what could come from the internet” – Dr Mahathir Mohamad, March 2014
THE THIRD FORCE
You can’t get a rocket scientist to understand politics. At least, not at the scale or even depth with which Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak or Lim Kit Siang understand it. And the same applies vice versa. If you were to explain the concept of democracy in the deepest sense to Stephen Hawking, the guy just probably won’t get it.
Let me put it to you this way – a polymer scientist will be able to tell you precisely why Perspex (Polymethyl methacrylate, or PMMA) is far less biodegradable than a typical protein. He (or she) will look at the molecular structure and assert that the backbone chain of PMMA is purely hydrocarbon based, unlike proteins, where you will find weaker peptide/amide links in the main chain.
Well, that’s probably because you’re not a polymer scientist. To you, Perspex (which also known as Plexiglass, or simply, ‘plastic glass’) is less capable of breaking down because it is produced as a commercial product and is intended to be durable. Protein, on the other hand, is a food product that is meant to be digestible by the human gut, meaning, it has to be able to break down easily. Now, let’s assume you’re a milkman.
Would you be wrong?
Of course not. You’re just looking at the PMMA through one peephole while the polymer scientist is looking at it through another. Both of you are looking at the same thing from very different perspectives. The irony is, you’re both right. However, the polymer scientist is probably not going to reach out to the majority of Malaysians because he’s speaking a lingo only a select few understand. You, on the other hand, may just strike a chord or two with another milkman or even the roti canai seller.
Now, imagine that you’re explaining all this to your seven-year-old kid. If you were to begin with stuff that happens in your gut, the little one is probably going to hate science for the rest of his (or her) natural life. As far as the kid is concerned, chicken has protein and can be eaten. Stick to that, and everything’s ok. The minute you go ‘gut’, things go custard.
And that’s how it is with an eighty-year-old trying to explain Mahathirism to a twenty-one-year-old. The former probably remembers independence day as if it happened yesterday. He (or she) would be able to express with a deep sense of regret how Dr Mahathir Mohamad swooped down one fine day and picked every stitch of unity the late Tun Abdul Razak sewed into the Malaysian fabric, one by one.
But to some twenty-one-year-olds, t’s just as good as an old fellow telling them “how PMMA declared biodegradability on the 31st of August 1957 before fungus infected protein swooped down and infected everyone.” It means nothing. To them, Mahathir is a “warm and friendly 92-year-old” who is “being disrespected by the younger Najib.” They will look at the Prime Minister and go, “why the heck can’t Najib give the old man a chance by compromising and seeking middle ground?”
Yes. Najib is the bad guy.
Which is why, the time has come for us to start looking through different peepholes. Once we do that, we will realise that none of the 1MDB nonsense or Felda bullsxxt bothers our youth that much. What they’re more interested to know is if a man as “repentant, warm and friendly” as Mahathir could possibly affect them should he become Prime Minister. You score points with them on that, you score points during the 14th general election (GE14).
Seriously, there is no way we’re going to get youngsters to see through the peephole we spent years looking through. However, if we were to explain to them that their days of blogging and socialising online would be a thing of the past, they’ll erupt into frenzy. And the best part is, we wouldn’t be lying. Remember, it was Mahathir who once told The Malaysian Insider this:
“If I was appointed as the premier again, the first thing I will do is censor the internet. The time has come for us to filter the internet. Although I gave my word to the Multimedia Super Corridor adviser when I was the PM, I did not give assurances the internet would not be filtered. At that time, I did not know what could come from the internet”
Four months later, on the 1st of August 2014, he entered this into his blog:
“I think it is time we stop talking of the freedom of the press. Let us admit that the press needs to be censored. It needs to be censored because freedom, any kind of freedom will always be open to abuse. The worst abuses are in the field of morality.”
Yes, once you start looking through the very peephole our youth is looking through, you’ll see how these messages matter to them most. There is no point justifying why Mahathir lied about 1MDB over and over and over again to our young, Instead, get into their minds and see what it is they’re seeing. Once you do that, half the battle is won.
The other half will be won the minute they realise you speak their lingo.