by Azly Rahman
As a lifelong student of Humanities and Philosophy, I reflected upon the great bard of the English Renaissance period, William Shakespeare, whose birthday was on April 23 (1564), a day after what is now Earth Day. Remembering the many famous quotes by the most influential writer of the English Language, I cannot help but inwardly lamenting upon the word we live in today - one which is increasingly violent and dehumanising.
On power and in ‘Julius Caesar’, Shakespeare wrote about loving Rome more than Caesar, and the ides of March, on wealth and honesty his entire message immortalised in the play ‘The Merchant of Venice’, and in the plays such as ‘King Lear’, ‘Macbeth’, and in comedies such as ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, the sage-playwright-poet wrote about the complexities of human nature as an interplay between power and love.
My early twenties was about reading his major works as part my study of English Literature.
As one who is always thinking about our beloved country and whose writings have been geared towards making suggestions for improvement, each of the Shakespearean quotes I recall went into thinking about what Malaysia has become today. Below are my notes I posted this week on my Facebook page:
1. Malaysia turning into Uganda?
at the rate of how much political fights we are seeing,
how many Idi Amins in songkoks we have produced,
how fast capital flights we are witnessing,
how serious crime rate has risen,
how policed the state has become,
how many of those speaking truth to power have been persecuted,
how fast the judiciary has rotted,
how deep the educational standards have plunged,
and how much wealth those in power has amassed...
we are seeing Kuala Lumpur turning into Kampala...
we hope not
at least we must first become Kenya.
2. Wealth can be an enemy of wisdom
one cannot serve god and money at the same time, as Jesus said
this is what is happening in Malaysia today
fighting over power, wealth and money
the loss of basic sensibility... the absence of wisdom
leaders taking pride in arrogance and ignorance
it takes three generations to destroy a nation, Kungfu Tze would say...
for Malaysia... it takes only two.
3. Malaysia today
obsessed with the past and politics of the day
we have not paid much attention to the future... to Education
to building a new world of endless possibilities through education
we owe the children this new world
of charting new ways of doings things, of living,
of relating, and making peace
with oneself and with others of creating a new philosophy, paradigm, processes, new products of value
not to have them inherit our ills
and to have them born into debt and despair
criminals are made, not born
i wished the politicians from both sides
have paid more attention to new ideas in education
what a waste of two generations.
4. Anti-terrorism laws are necessary
only if used wisely and justifiably
for national safety and security
only in a society that knows what clear separation means
of the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary
such as the government of the United States
and not yet of Malaysia - where those with power and money
and in deep inexplicable desperation
5. On the passing of Malaysia’s renewed Internal Security Act
or Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota)... all is done as BN wanted it to be
where were all the Pakatan Rakyat Members of Parliament - those missing on voting day on this issue of grave magnitude? Not interested any more in fighting for those who fought for you to be in office? - are beginning to terrorise the people and the state.
6. What actually matters in Malaysia politics
for the rich and powerful, the children and family members to rule the country
for the poor and powerless, how to feed the family and how the leaders and the rulers are ruining the country...
and therefore that too is what the media is interested in reporting...
this is a new brand of class and consciousness in a hypermodern economy, in a world of modern slavery.
7. A mirror
there is so much hatred in this world today
love seems to have flown away
until in each of our heart we tear down the walls
and let love and only love
and overwhelm us to tears
embracing each other and open
window to our soul
to the sufferings of many
because we are a mirror of one another - ar
8. Malaysians... return to sanity... here’s how...
“ ... political will, radical political change, an overhaul of the system, a fresh new and different mandate, a prison complex big enough to incarcerate the long-time corrupt ones, a plan to redistribute wealth, to dismantle educational apartheid..., a rewriting of Malay and Malaysian history, a re-threading of the moral fibre of the armed personnels, a massive arrest of political tyrants of past doings, a restructuring of the casino capitalist economy, a stronger local government established, a clampdown of racist and hate-groups, a return to the rule of law, a return to agricultural society, an experimentation with a radically new form of communal-styled living, a dismantling of systems that allow global corporate giants to continue to prey upon the natives, a return to the cooperative system, strengthening of labour, a re-education of political official on management, ethics, and political philosophy, the separation of religion and state, the dismantling of useless cultural and religious rituals, a restructuring of society based on the principles of radical multiculturalism and the celebration of transcultural philosophies, the reduction of TV time and TV channels, the introduction of the reading of the great works of arts, humanities, and literature from the cradle to the grave , the curbing of rhetoric on Islamic or any religious state, the compulsory teaching of philosophy from the cradle to the grave, .... all these and more to overturn the system and its ugly head... would all of you agree?...”