When I was a child, we have this folk knowledge common among us Chinese that when we hate someone and wished for bad things to happen to that person, we will draw a human figurine on a piece of white paper, cut it out with scissors, and then write the person’s name on that paper figurine, place it on the floor, and with a slipper in hand, proceed to slap the daylights out of the paper figurine repeatedly with the slipper while chanting in Hokkien, “Pa xio lang ah, pa xio lang ah!”(lit. “Beat the small person!”), until satisfaction is attained. And there you have it, a package of DIY voodoo that you can accomplish right on your doorstep.
But of course, the act is merely meant to be symbolic, and is just a very economical way to vent out our frustrations in a cheap and efficient fashion, without having to incur any loss on our behalf, so that we can face the person next day with equanimity and deal with one another in a harmonious way. And it does make perfect sense that we should do so, when we are either afraid to deal directly with the target of our hatred, or we just don’t have the means (yet) to do so. In short, and to put in in a psychoanalytic perspective, we are “displacing” our harmful or unacceptable impulses from the original target to a less threatening and acceptable object or person, so that we can avoid or decrease our feelings of anxiety.
A few days ago, when I saw the pictures uploaded and widespread on Facebook where a group of people, calling themselves the “Gabungan NGO-NGO Malaysia”, who claim to support Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, and proceeded to rally against the upcoming “Bersih 4.0” by having a protest at Jalan Masjid India, and threatening its chairman, Maria Chin Abdullah, with a political gathering in front of her house if Bersih 4.0 is not cancelled, and concluded their protest by pouring a bucket of red liquid that resembles blood on the effigy of Ms Maria, the first thing that pops to mind is of the childish behaviour of a person beating on a paper figurine without having the courage to engage in productive and healthy confrontation with the original target. It just seems so absurd to see a bunch of people well into adulthood behave in such a gangster-ish manner, or to borrow a colloquial term, behave like “samsengs”.
And as a person from Penang, the vandalism (again) of several tourist attraction spots (including the famous wall murals), by spray painting the walls with “#4.0” in order to sabotage the Bersih 4.0 campaign in Penang is particularly infuriating. What use is of the act to destroy a work of art, or of the culture of a place, that has ABSOLUTELY NO connection whatsoever with the Bersih movement?
In other countries, there are public debates or news forums where political leaders or coalition leaders have a platform on which to discuss national or regional issues. This is not to diminish the fact that many of these countries do not fully enforce their freedom of speech, and that there are always loopholes at which politicians can exploit to diminish the citizens’ rights to voice out opinions without fear of consequences. But in Malaysia, one does not resolve to adopt civilized methods when it comes to politics; it is always blood, blood and gas, or sheer neglect. What do we do when our protests for more rights is met with a cold wall of disregard? We fight back, as what my lecturer once said in class, “we are like sand, tiny and frail when alone, but when you squeeze a handful of us tighter and tighter in your fist, we become impregnable, hard as a rock”, and this is especially so if the other group infringed upon aspects of our identity that we deem irreplaceable and important. And then they fight back, believing that we ask for too much, and then we fight back again… on and on and on.
People may see my sentiments as pro-opposition, or anti-establishment, or whatever, and that may well be true, but this does not change the fact that violence, even if, in this case, indirect and merely symbolic cannot be condoned by whatever reasons. What does that say about our country when the leaders of differentiating movements resolved to use threats in order to solve disagreements or civilian protests? I don’t know, you be the judge.
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