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Monday, March 7, 2011

PUTTING UP A FRONT.

The logo of the Alliance PartyImage via Wikipedia
By Howl Pillai
 Introduction
Chief Great-Tinpot  runs a tinpot party which if it were a country will surely be called the "Republic of Banana Rajahs". This is not being outlandish. Consider this : We have a thriving 'pisang rajah' industry. And when you offer bananas as big as rajahs you get monkeys as big as maharajahs. Now Chief Great Tinpot wants to be Chief-for-life and problematically for us, a few afterlifes as well. In the interim, Chief Dear Tinpot,his son, is being groomed for high office. And Chief Great-Tinpot keeps deferring the date for his arduous, once in a lifetime journey to what can only be the Indian equivalent of Mt Kumgang. Once there he plans to sip 72 teh-tariks everyday served in freshly cut crystal goblets.And in between sips he will summon his minions and lesser chiefs at random to pay him homage. Anyone who does not comply is sacked and then told he is too small to talk. "How bizarre,how bizarre", you mumble in disbelief.

PUTTING UP A FRONT

But it is true that political monsters like Chief Great-Tinpot are not born. They are made. Made by the Front. More specifically by the entity behind the Front.

We should have in hindsight stuck with "Perikatan" or "Alliance". Afterall it was "Alliance" that gave us Glorious Merdeka ! An alliance is an agreement among parties in furtherance of a common cause. Now see what happens when you tinker, chop and change with names and ideas as important as this one. Really we must have gone 'bananas' to have agreed to a name change like 'Barisan Nasional' in place of the "Alliance". Sure, "Barisan Nasional" sounds and feels more formidable than its predecessor. But from the beginning it had an inherent problem in translation in more than one sense. Later, self-serving politicians would capitalise on this defect. In its short form, the Coalition became "Barisan". In English that translates as "Front". There, now you have it !

For close on four decades we have all had to put up with a Front. A Front, the likes of which  was never seen before in this fair and lovely land that is trully, Trully Asia ! A national Front that was politically sophisticated and devilishly clever. We were not even aware for a long time that we were indeed putting up a Front. At least prior to March 2008. Then a mirror held to our face reflected a ghastly apparition that clearly was not us anymore.

Now it suddenly dawned upon us all that we were  creatures of a Front organisation set up and controlled by another entity. And for a good part of those four decades Chief Great-Tinpot served as an excellent Front-man.

The Front-masters were happy with him. Even jubilant. At last a Front-man of the right calibre. Nevermind that with every passing year the  Chief's girth approached that of King Henry the Eighth. In him his mentors had a Front-man for the long haul--obedient, ambitious and greedy. And later, with the passing years even the skeletons in his closet would 'put on weight'.

Early in his career he was tacitly made to understand that he could self-deal on the side. The Front would provide cover and stand by its  Front-men. This was a perk and a promise made to all the chiefs, both Indian and non-Indian, both big and small, in the Coalition, but the cover came with a price. They had to deliver the 'goodies'.

Now with Indians, Chief Great-Tinpot knew that delivering the 'goodies' was always dicey and difficult. For every Indian was a potential renegade. Give him a voice and he will shoot his mouth. Give him a pen and he will write. Give him an opinion and he will split it into hairs.Give him a whole party and he will break it up into pieces and factions. And so Big Chief sat on the wall, pondered a while and came up with a simple solution- Exterminate all the other Indian Chiefs ! He wiped out the chiefs of the 'Cheyenne', 'Sioux', 'Pawnee','Mohawks','Mohicans', 'Crow', 'Navajos','Choctaws', 'Blackfeet', 'Bigfeet' and other tribes too many to mention.

Soon after the completion of the merciless campaign of elimination he declared himself the 'Embodiment of all the Indian Tribes'. Then he was able to safely deliver the 'goodies', which are actually little slips of paper which Indians were told to mark "X" against a perfectly balanced ancient weighing scale which looked suspiciously Indian in origin. In return, Chief Great-Tinpot brought from the Front, news of war victories and of a substantial 'war booty' that was soon to be shared with all the Indians. The weary foot soldiers of the Indian Tribes cheered lustily and pledged to support and to sacrifice for the Front in the 'battles' yet to come.

Ah ! This Front was indeed a very clever one ! In a way, and we must be honest about it ,we were happy putting up a front. In other countries this process is called propaganda. In these parts it is called National Unity. But alas ! The 'war booty' was not shared with the Indian tribes as promised. Instead the Front delivered a much reduced portion directly to Chief Great-Tinpot who kept it all for himself as in many a previous occasion. A grizzled old warrior who had fought in many a 'goodies' campaign bristled with anger and expressed his disgust at this latest double cross, spitting out some half-chewed tobacco: "I never thought I would see this day. The Front that we knew in the past is now an affront to us.When I die bury my heart at Wounded Pride by the shade of those old rubber trees!". Another old warrior chimed in :" As for me just bury me down by the river in my ancestral village of Empty Stomach".

Thankfully, no nation and no tribe can put up a front forever. The charade had to end someday. And when Chief Great-Tinpot lost the Battle of Snail River in March 2008, the Front was exposed! And the tribes rose to a man in classic disunity as in the days of yore and bayed for the blood of the Great-Tinpot who is now  chief in all but name.  

Perhaps what did not work for BP in the Gulf of Mexico may work for us here- topkill. After that the Indian must learn to vote with unabashed self-interest. Lets stop putting up a front!

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