Friday, August 31, 2007

Malaysia a circular state

Malaysia a circular state (Reproduced from
Mat Al-Jajawi
Aug 30, 07 2:30pm

Malaysia is a circular state, not a secular or theocratic state. Why? I’ll try to elucidate my rationale for calling Malaysia a circular state.

Society is made of various social and ethnic groups. For example, the top strata in society are the royalty, judges, the cabinet ministers, members of parliament, and the politicians - don’t they all move around in their own circles? Judges are not supposed to be mixing or seen in public, the royalty is a group unto its own and seldom do we see them in the crowds. They have their own circles.

The cabinet ministers, no matter how ‘stupid’ (oops! dengan izin) they are, have their own circles; and mingle freely among themselves. The common folk of every ethnic group go about their everyday life in their own circles - the Malays with the Malays, Chinese with the Chinese, Indian with the Indians, Kadazan with the Kadazans and the list goes on.

In terms of administration of the country, there appears to be a lack of leadership and many people have suggested that the country in on auto-pilot. No one seems to be in charge. Government servants administer by circulars - one circular after another.

To control traffic flow, Malaysia is fond of having traffic circles, or what local folks here call ‘roundabouts’. Far from regulating traffic flow, these favorite creation of our civil engineers cause more traffic jams at peak hours. At traffic lights that seem to function quite well, we place policemen to regulate traffic flow.

These traffic cops aggravate, instead of ameliorate, the traffic woes of our cities, particularly in Kuala Lumpur. At traffic lights that don’t work, there are no policemen to regulate traffic follow. One guy complained that one traffic light that lies along his route to work hasn’t been working for at least four years. Perhaps our politicians were waiting for a by-election there before they notice the fault.

Malaysia is a nice country, but its course is speedily turning out to be very bumpy. Everywhere we go, we have to encounter speed bumps. It shows that Malaysian drivers are incapable of using their God-given common sense to slow down their cars when passing through residential zones.

We have to be slowed down by speed bumps, which tend to replace our discretion. Those of us who have lived overseas will surely remember how scarce traffic bumps in our neighborhoods were. What we saw were speed limit signs warning us to slow down our vehicles. And we could do it. Why not here?

One more evidence I’d like to adduce (favourite lingo of the legal fraternity) to convince all and sundry that we are a circular state is the ‘run around’ we often hear from citizens when they go to a government office. The first person they meet at the office does not have the immediate answer to help. We are told to see another person - if not another department - who can help us. The second person turns out to be equally ignorant of how to assist us, and so tells us to see a third person, who then tells us to see the first person.

Well, compared to many lesser endowed nations we can consider ourselves lucky to be in Malaysia. We have fewer natural disasters - only man-made ones. Our road accident rate is one of the highest in the world. The number killed on our highways is not very different from that of those dying in war-torn Iraq. Every day we hear of accidents involving express buses. Who has been sleeping, besides the bus drivers of course?

Here, we again see the circular nature of our state. Our officials will be pointing fingers in a circular fashion. Imagine it. The JPJ points fingers at the Commercial Vehicles Licencing Board, who perhaps points fingers at the Police DiRaja Malaysia (or Polis Raja Di Malaysia), who in turn point fingers at the deputy minister of internal security, and the process goes on and on. But makes sure it comes back to the first party.

So Malaysia is neither an Islamic state nor a secular state. It’s a circular state.

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