Ebenezer Scrooge, the character from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” seeks redemption when ghosts from the past visit him. He has become mean, unkind, uncharitable and greedy like his childhood. This character reminds me of Malaysia which started with a mean and unkind childhood being that it was an exploited colony between 1511 until 1957.
Malaysians today are not spared the ghostly visits that ought to galvanise our nationalistic spirits and patriotic souls.
One terrifying ghost is certainly the rise of communist sympathy in Malaya fanned by the traditional atmosphere of Chinese secret societies and communist cells igniting the genesis of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) that developed to a worrying extent in the 1930s.
The Japanese Occupation 1941-1945 is a terrifying ghost that haunts and reminds us of unpreparedness when the terrors and errors of oppression awaken our consciousness. The Malayan Chinese took the hardest hit due to a bitter cultural hatred dating back to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria which dragged on between China and the Empire of Japan — 1931 to 1945.
The ghost of 1948-1961 Emergency witnessed the colonizer the CPM of Malaya which sought political and economic rights and claims to rid the eurosettler from monopolising our natural resources, especially tin and rubber.
The ghost of Merdeka 1957 did everything possible to polarise the Malays, Chinese, Indians and other communities in Malaya despite esoteric promises of national unity, oneness and equality. This ghost must never win. This monster must die painfully.
The recent floods in the Klang Valley people is a visiting friendly ghost of 1971 reminding skyscraper-building mentalists to be prepared for the annual monsoons. The failure of the government to be twice defeated within 50 years should inspire the rakyat to greater consciousness.
The 1969 race riots portray an ugly ghost that makes its daily presence felt when government-sponsored racial and religious bigotry flare up as it finds utterance in beer festivals, crosses perched upon churches, Bibles in an official vernacular language, special religious laundries, and the ludicrous senseless complaint that Gurdwara food is non-halal when the Sikh community leapt to help the recent flood vicitms!
The greedy ghost of 1MDB — the scandal of the century — has not dampened the awe of ordinary folks who cannot seem to come to terms that kleptocracy is unabashedly endorsed due to the absence of one key fugitive witness disassembling and dismembering the due process of law and justice.
You cannot punish a ghost as it has no soul or body to damn, like a corporation. But the character Ebenezer Scrooge sought redemption when the ghosts visited him. Is the Malaysian Scrooge ready for redemption or is it planning more pain for the living, the dying, and the soon-to-be-born?
Is there a ghost of a chance for Malaysian politics to be genuinely Malaysian in totality comprising all Malaysians united under a single motive and calling translated to mean equality, justice and economic progress so that nobody is left behind?
Ghosts are necessary in the scheme of things in that they launder our consciences. One can only hope that it makes a difference and awakens us from unnecessary self-imposed nightmares. Governments must prevent self-infliction of pain and incurable wounds due to toxic policies.
The American activist Marcus Garvey reminded us that “a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Therefore, ghosts become useful to remind us of the ugly and unkind oppression that was unleashed upon the people who have no voice in democratic politics.
The recent Sarawak election is an example of the regional culture and traditions wisely and jealously guarded by the people who voted in the GPS government with four extra seats in the Dewan Undangan Negeri. The people took umbrage from the visiting ghosts that travelled across the pond to make a presence in Sarawak’s local government.
Can redemption come from rebellion or rebelliousness? George Orwell observed that “unless they become conscious they will never rebel, and until they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.” This genre of a rebel is relevant to a non-violent movement that Mahatma Gandhi inflicted upon the British Raj that occupied India from 1601 to 1947.
As we welcome 2022, let’s believe that justifying redemption and forgiveness is unnecessary.
HAPPIER NEW YEAR to all our esteemed readers and supporters.