Perceptions, Receptions and Deceptions

There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perceptions.

– Aldous Huxley, English writer, philosopher

Our stinking thinking is specially engineered to naively accept everything as the norm, the gospel truth, or the raison d’etre if it appears and sounds right. This is sickeningly true in politics wherein perception is reality while facts are negotiable!

Disgruntled politicians who leave their political parties, or have been booted out, swiftly spew out statements with promises to unite the citizens, or one particular race. This deception becomes appallingly newsworthy.

The people should act like Brer Rabbit in separating the wheat from the chaff with a host of perceptions, receptions and deceptions on the table. Politicians’ intentions don’t matter because perception becomes reality. If the people perceive you the wrong way, it doesn’t matter what your intentions are.

The judiciary went from the “will of the law” to the “will of the judge” manifested in awkwardly and inadequately explained decisions ready and ripe for print in a law journal. The toxic baggage in this unelected branch of government is understandable.

People get the government they vote for has now become a thing of the past. That is not a perception but a constitutional reception to dubious legal expressions of deception. What a written constitution stipulates, whether just or unjust, is not the issue anymore. Executive action is in the cutting edge while the people are in the bleeding edge.

Malaysia’s political maturity is a cry in the wilderness as it is continuously enmeshed in scandals, cover-ups, kleptocracy, unsolved kidnappings and murders, fugitives enjoying a free pass, and corruption has earned us an indelible notch in the factoid of world governments.

Young and dedicated Malaysians must take up cudgels to represent people power. There is no time for perceptions and deceptions to take root. Rakyat needs to be proactive, progressive, persuasive and pre-emptive if political maturity is to take root.

Albert Einstein advanced an age-old Hindu philosophical awareness that reality is merely an illusion (maya), albeit a very persistent one. Sensory versus higher consciousness is remarkably relevant. Will the latter matter to diehard politicians who have carved a career in lifelong politics?

People’s reception to the recent proclamation of emergency has been met with fuming frustration, ambiguous opinions, convoluted viewpoints, and personal sentiments aimed at containing social engineering, constitutional overreach, scofflaw traditions, economic realities, and sheer political ploys.

The supremacy of the Federal Constitution (FC) is sadly at odds with interpretations and preferences tainted by practical gutter politics. Covid-19 has rescued the present government from constitutional accountability, and has qualified to constitute a “grave” emergency.

Whether Article 150 FC presents a deception, perception and reception of the most basic, necessary and proper course of action cannot be fortified by words and phrases in it when its reason and purpose are ambiguous and doubtful. Who is most qualified to define and determine what constitutes a “grave” emergency?

Clause 6A of Article 150 FC offers a cogent remedy if native laws or customs can be legislated to offer a strong buffer to Clause 5 of Article 150 FC. Whether words and phrases in a written law reflect the true wishes, expectations and intentions of the people, or its drafters, is anyone’s guess.

PP v Khong Teng Khen [1976] 2 MLJ 166 has put a gloss upon Clause 2B of Article 150 FC concerning the Executive’s powers as does Teh Cheng Poh v PP [1980] AC 458, [1979] 2 WLR 623 (cited to AC). Common law traditions do play a meaningful role when people’s welfare is at stake. This translates to good governance.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently cautioned that good governance is not about winning the next election, but getting the next generation ready. Are Malaysians ready for a shift in attitudes notwithstanding partisan politics?

Niccolo Machiavelli was viciously honest when he declared that “politics has no relations to morals”. We have had one former prime minister who was his staunch disciple.

Franklin D Roosevelt encapsulated today’s politics thus: “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”

George Orwell observed that “political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable”. Malaysians can relate to that.

Most disagreements, between the government and the governed are caused by different perceptions that create different realities for different reasons and purposes.

Take heart, people, the Pied Piper is no match for Brer Rabbit.

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.