Thursday, February 10, 2011


Howl Pillai
10 February 2011

No people on Earth have experienced hard ons like us Malaysians. After every horrific accident, despicable crime, monumentally embarrassing cock-up or massive scam, there is a public outcry. Then someone in authority - minister, heads of government department, chief minister, state level official, top cop, supremo of excise and customs, immigration chief or city council chairperson jumps to the fore vowing to ‘come down hard on.......’ . Such statements are given much emphasis and coverage in our daily newspapers. As a consequence every Malaysian knows that the operative words in such statements are ‘hard on’ taken together.

Now while no Malaysian will deny that a ‘hard on’ is a good thing they tend to be wary of it. Especially when it announces itself boldly. When confronted with an impending ‘hard on’ the first reaction is to go immediately into lie-low mode. “Lie-low” properly pronounced in Cantonese translates to “coming”. So it all dovetails in quite nicely. We react this way because we know that when persons in authority have a ‘hard on’ something, then someone is going to get screwed. Often a selection process precedes the screwing. And if you find all this screwing painful you can just pay a bribe without moaning and groaning to avoid the ‘hard on’. When the ‘hard on’ is massive, you will find express bus operators, wild life smugglers, illegal loggers, pirated DVD distributors, counterfeiters, drug peddlers, contraband smugglers, brothel operators, sleazy massage parlours womanned by foreigners, bookies, crooked developers, errant contractors, china dolls and even demonstrators without permits all go into lie-low mode until the heat of the ‘hard on’ passes them by. This begs the question: Should we run a country with ‘hard ons’ ?

If ‘hard ons’ are properly managed and monitored, then some good will surely come out of it. For example, it will be good if our ministers and others in authority can sustain their ‘hard ons’. If possible all year around. It is of little use having ‘hard ons’ just before the festive period when half the population is stuck in a balek kampong crawl. It is equally pointless to have a ‘hard on’ after a speeding bus with a driver high on ganja ploughs into a school bus which itself is ferrying students in excess of the permited number, killing 20. We don’t think it right to come down hard on china dolls just before CNY. Surely they are Chinese ! Or to get ‘hard on’ wildlife poachers after 10 species become extinct. Or to get ‘hard on’ rogue elements of the police force after the whole force is corrupt to the core. We don’t want our government to come down ‘hard on’ on corrupt officials after the Treasury is empty. Therefore like everything else, the timing of ‘hard ons’ is important.

We also think it improper to announce a ‘hard on’ to all the world. It is also very unwise. Bad hats and law breakers are perfectly aware that no ‘hard on’ can last forever. Besides they know that there always new things for our ministers and officials to get ‘hard on’ about. Ask the Chief Minister of Sarawak if you will! Reportedly the state is coming down ‘hard on’ illegal gold digging. And whatever else said about Malaysia in the foreign media, the people remain resourceful. They have even figured out how the ‘hard on’ cycle works :- citizens  get excited to the point they are screaming for some kind of action; then minister as if on cue gets ‘hard on’ ; enforcement agencies and authorities are directed to stiffen up their act ; then one law-breaker out of a thousand gets screwed amidst much publicity ; matter goes to court and case is thrown out for lack of , would you believe it, hard evidence! ; things go limp ; the hubbub dies down ; nothing stirs ; normalcy returns to our land until the next ‘hard on’. At times, shamelessly, old ‘hard ons’ are passed off as new ones with changes in government.

We are also not happy about ‘hard ons’ because there is this widely held belief that the government and the MACC are soft on nepotism, cronyism, racism, religious extremism and very high level corruption . We still don’t know how submarines, jet fighters and warships are actually purchased. Surely these are issues they should be ‘hard on’. Malaysians long for sincere and sustainable ‘hard ons’ from those in authority. Above all , for once, we want them to be hard on themselves. Otherwise they should get off !


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