Projecting the preferred image – by Marina Mahathir – 6th July 2011

In Uncategorized on January 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm
Deliberately causing problems to solve a problem is an entirely ingenious idea, like blocking the Penang Bridge just to show how inconvenient a demonstration can be. SINCE the subject has come up so often recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about our country’s image. In the first place, why do we even think anyone else spends much time thinking about us? And secondly, when they do, why do we even care? Obviously we do care since we seem obsessed with it. And the main reason seems to be that if we did not have a good image in the eyes of foreigners, they won’t invest in us or visit us and therefore we’ll become poor. Our standard of living, therefore, depends on what people think of us. It rather reminds me of those days, when some people said we should not have any public campaigns on HIV/AIDS in case foreigners think we DO have the epidemic here and therefore won’t come. We never thought that maybe foreigners might think better of us if we admitted we might have a problem but we are doing something about it, rather than be yet another country which prefers to sweep things under the carpet. When it comes to the image of a country, it really depends on who you talk to. Of course, we should be proud that we are almost a developed country with almost first-world facilities: great airport, great roads, good shopping malls.
We also have fantastic food and fairly hospitable people, especially to foreigners with money. We may not be very nice to those without money, such as migrant workers and refugees, but we don’t care about them. Unless, of course, their governments decide to stop sending domestic workers and we face the grim prospect of having to clean our own toilets. On the other hand, we seem pretty unconcerned when our image gets a battering all round the globe for attempting to whip women for drinking in public, actually whipping them for having babies out of wedlock, forming clubs for obedient wives and sexually harassing women for allegedly breaking immigration laws. Or declaring poco-poco haram in one state out of 13. I guess we don’t mind people laughing at us, as long as they still spend their money here. So image, just like justice in this country, is a moving target. It’s whatever we make it out to be. While we complain about men who ride their motorbikes dangerously on the streets when nothing is happening, when we need them we simply put red T-shirts on them and call them patriots. We should really send them to international conventions overseas as patriotic examples of Malaysian citizens. They must surely do wonders for our image. We should also send those fine people who blocked the Penang Bridge the other day just to show how inconvenient a demonstration is, to conferences on innovative ways to solve problems. Surely, deliberately causing problems to solve a problem is an entirely ingenious idea! Yes, Malaysia’s people, especially its leaders, really do wonders for our image overseas.
Apparently as a moderate Mus­lim country, we have absolutely no qualms about behaving just like the less-than-moderate ones, the ones who are quite happy to turn thugs and tanks onto their own people. We jeer at Western hypocrisy that supports tyrants and dictators when it suits them, but we don’t seem to be much different ourselves. Our image of ourselves must sometimes mirror the image of those we want to attract. We want to attract the deep-pocketed tourists from the Middle East and China, governments who also don’t look kindly on demonstrations. Therefore, not tolerating demonstrations here is just part of our marketing strategy, just like providing airport announcements in their languages, encouraging little Arab villages in the middle of the city and other amenities to make them feel at home. Perhaps we should mention it in our travel ads: “Come and shop in Malaysia. “We shall ensure nothing will block your route to the malls”. Our leaders are such intellectual giants that the concept of freedom and human rights has been distorted and diminished to only mean freedom and the right to shop and make money. I love it when certain leaders defend their right to shop in places they have not stepped into for decades. The sudden concern for the petty traders, mostly foreigners, who have not benefited from their wallets all this time, is so touching. So it depends whose image we want to emulate. In developed countries, millions can march peacefully and nothing happens to the economy. In fact, their economies have been devastated more by smart-suited bankers than any street demo against the ensuing austerity drives. Perhaps, in defining patriots and traitors, we should look at suits rather than T-shirts.
[[[ *** RESPONSE *** ]]]
I am concerned that while posing as one of the good guys, this daughter of one of the worst policy makers and dictators in history yet to be brought to book, has NEVER mentioned APARTHEID against the minorities in any direct manner very much the same way Tengku Dr. Harris and Raja Petra Kamaruddin of MCLM have yet to (Marina is a committe bearer in that outfit though). She has though mentioned feminism in an apartheid manner but never spoke out against the method of acquisition of the massive wealth of her parents or brothers either.
Shows that Nepotism triumphs over honesty to the people. One more reason never to vote for family blocs in government. They will not look after citizens’ interests, they will be looking after their own family interests. Nepotism is especially bad in the 3rd world with the people egging them on as well because they too are too selfish or uneducated to see the difference – as in Yingluck’s recent taking of te PM’s seat in Thailand.
Let’s put it another way, APARTHEID is APARTHEID and you might as well vote your own relative as MP or PM (followed by yourself upon their passing??? Think Nuruls and KJs and oligarchies or nepotists and family blocs in political parties . . . ) than anyone else’s relative. In which case you would be no better than these very same self serving people. NO to sequestration of political seats within 1 family !

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