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The Star - Musings - Getting more insular each day (30 June 2016)
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Getting more insular each day

WELL, it’s been some week! To the shock of everyone, Britain voted to leave the European Union. I was in Britain not too long ago and nobody I knew believed they would leave. But by a whisker, they did. And the consequences are still rolling out all over the world.

All this can be put on the shoulders of one man, David Cameron. What started as an internal party issue was allowed to spin so much out of control that the shockwaves are still being felt.

The pound sterling has dropped, stock markets everywhere are falling and Brits are suddenly waking up to a world vastly different from just last week. A passport that is almost the equivalent of a world passport is no longer theirs.

Along the way people’s emotions got worked up into the nastiest form. Xenophobia suddenly became the norm. People became so divided; one young woman MP even got killed presumably for her views, a tragedy so rare in Britain that it shocked both sides of the divide.

It did not help that the right-wing media whipped emotions up for the Leave campaign with sensational headlines and very few reasoned arguments. In fact there was very little in the way of sensible and factual arguments.

The PM lost his gamble so he stepped down.

History will probably remember him as not only the man who broke up the EU but possibly also Britain because now Scotland is talking about another independence referendum. Perhaps Northern Ire­land too. Who wants to stay with a bunch of insular provincial people when there’s a whole world out there?

Which brings us back to our little country here, which seems to be getting ever more insular every day.

In this holy month, a religious leader, for unfathomable reasons, decided to declare non-Muslims not only infidels but the type of infidels that should be killed. Uncon­ditionally, only because they are not Muslims.

Naturally all right-thinking people, Muslim and non-Muslim, are reacting badly to this. Shockingly, he is not getting admonished by his superiors for such uncharitable talk about fellow citizens in the month of restraint.

At least in Britain when pro-Brexit people start talking about taking back the country for citizens of the white persuasion only, there will be people in high positions who will criticise them sharply.

But as usual in this country, when a man of the turban and long gown says anything nasty, nobody in a position of authority will protest.

They seem to think that God speaks through him so his word cannot be challenged. Someone should send him on a study tour to post-Brexit Britain where they would take one look at him, look up what he just said and promptly deport him for incitement.

Then there was the case of the Ipoh City Council that issued an invitation to an event for its staff and felt the need to detail what people should wear.

Instead of trusting that people would have the common sense to know what would be suitable to wear to such an event, some pea-brained person decided that they needed to underscore what could not be worn, the elegant and graceful saree.

Forgetting that they now live in the age of camera phones and social media, the council got caught out and added insult to injury by giving the lame excuse that the word kecuali does not actually mean “except” but means what you should not wear when you’re out in the field, even though this is presumably an indoor event with food.

In my childhood, my Mum’s friends Dr Sundra and Dr Ranjit wore sarees to work in the hospital and absolutely nobody freaked out about it. When she got married, my mother even wore a saree at one of her nuptial events because her friends had given her a beautiful one.

What I wish most, really, is that one of our leaders has enough of a conscience to step up and say “Enough!” and tell everyone to stop this nonsense.

Not saying anything is like David Cameron letting the Brexit ghouls out of Pandora’s box. Once such hate speech (and there is no other word for it) is allowed out, there is no pulling it back.

But looking at the calibre of our Cabinet in its latest iteration, there is no hope of that ever happening.

There is simply no moral leadership in this country, no one in Govern­ment who has the courage to point out what is patently wrong in our society today.

The tragedy is that nobody does anything that is not self-serving.

If this continues, then they may find they are ruling a country with no people. Sooner or later, (more) Malaysians may decide that it’s time for Mexit.

Selamat Hari Raya, maaf zahir batin.

30 June 2016

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