On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

A crazy kind of love

Despite our country’s imperfections – from imitation DVDs to politicians who don’t play politics to kopi-O drivers – we all still love Malaysia.

I LOVE Malaysia. It is truly a land of wonders and contradictions, and I think even our founding fathers would be, well, amazed if they were still around today.

We must be the only nation in the whole universe who watches pirated movies that start off with a notice from the distributor warning us why we should dump these imitations.

Behold, the quality is bad, the narrator alerts us in Chinese as we are shown two clips of the same car chase in a multi-storey car park, comparing the “imitation” with the “original”. And, of course, the super-duper quality movie we get to watch once this promo is over is still an illegal copy.

Then we have leaders, politicians and their family members who expect to be accorded VIP treatment all the time. They demand VIP passes from promoters of concerts so they can show off their status.

Funny, but many of us also demand the same VIP treatment ourselves, lapping up the VIP passes only to learn later that these so-called passes are no longer exclusive as there are hundreds of them.

I love Malaysia. We have thousands and thousands of Datuks, making this beloved land of ours the country with the most titled people in the world.

At the rate we are going, we will also top the list for having the highest number of honorary doctorate holders.

If you can’t get into medical school, it’s okay. Just buy a Dr title, whether online from a university somewhere in the south Pacific or approach a self-professed sultan from an obscure island off the Philippines. Almost everyone is now a Datuk Dr and nothing less.

For laughs, we know we can always count on our politicians. Malaysia again scores top points for politicians who regularly warn each other not to “play politics”.

As a journalist, I am confused by this. If politicians do not play politics, then what do they do? Play doctor? Play football, or simply play jester?

Recently, I came across a politician who accused this newspaper of instigating one politician against another. That’s a fresh angle to get attention at the expense of the media.

Since when have debates about our politicians, who are public figures, become private matters that the media should not report? Politicians are quarrelling all the time, anyway, or else they wouldn’t be politicians.

I also love our policemen. They deserve better. They are not the best paid in town and yet we expect them to be super heroes who work around the clock.

We expect our cops to be soft with our criminals, hug them, buy them dinner, play Candy Crush with them and give them massages, hoping that the scums would end up confessing their guilt.

Are these Malaysians who advocate such loving, tender touches for criminals really from our Malaysia, truly Asia?

As pressmen, we are also confused by the cops’ fondness of using certain terms at their press briefings. They love using terms like “certain quarters” or “pihak tertentu”. We must be the only country in the world that uses such a term. Why certain quarters, not half or three quarters?

Our cops also love playing at being diplomats. They will never say the criminals are from Indonesia, Thailand or Singapore. It’s always “negara jiran” or neighbouring countries, keeping the reporters guessing.

Are our policemen worried the mere mention of nationalities would spark off a major diplomatic war?

It’s even more confusing when the cops simply use the term “Africans”. Hello, that continent is really big, stretching from Timbuktu to Capetown.

They also seem to love using the words “we promise to get to the bottom of the case” and “we will not compromise”, but I suspect it’s the work of unimaginative reporters who use the cut-and-paste approach when filing their stories.

Here’s the best part. It’s almost a standard line among families of suspected criminals shot dead to declare that their relatives are victims of mistaken identity. They are their loved ones and they are angels, certainly not gangsters.

Really? Then why did everyone at the funerals carry swastikas and set off crackers, and why was the hearse adorned with wreaths shaped in numbers ranging from 04 to 08 to 36?

Malaysians have also become super sensitive these days. I don’t know if that’s the effect of the full moon but, for sure, it can’t be the recent meteor showers as that was a non-event.

We have become more religious, which is good, but our behaviour does not seem to correspond with our spirituality.

We deplore graft but we seem to think it’s okay to ask the driving instructor if it’s possible to “guarantee” a pass. A “kopi-O” licence is assured when we are prepared to part with some “duit kopi”.

And finally, we have now decided to play the national anthem at our cinemas. It’s long overdue. In fact, why isn’t the anthem played before football matches or any big sporting event?

Worse, there seems to be reluctance and uneasiness among some Malaysians over this move. These are the people who cannot understand that standing up at attention to sing the Negara Ku with gusto is to love Malaysia. It is not about loving the government of the day or a clarion call to join a political party.

So after 56 years of independence, many of us are still confused. Many are still caught up in a time warp, quarrelling over issues that should have been resolved or resolved in the 1950s. But for all its imperfections, we all still love Malaysia!