One of the unanticipated outcomes of yesterday’s Nowhere-to-Hide… I mean, Nothing-to-Hide forum was that it led to half the nation ROFLOL (rolling on the floor, laughing out loud).
You can legislate against ‘sedition’ and peaceful assembly; you can take action against opposition politicians, editors and cartoonists – but there is not much you can do when half the nation is spreading jokes via social media about Najib’s no-show at yesterday’s ill-named “Nothing-to-Hide” forum on 1MDB. Unless you come up with a National Laughter Act.
I have lost count of the number of cartoons, jokes and witty remarks I have received following Najib’s no-show at the forum. (I must say Malaysians are a witty lot!)
You can bet these have received wide exposure on social media (including WhatsApp), which has replaced traditional media as the primary source of news for younger Malaysians. They provide a welcome relief from our regular diet of dire economic news, the latest being the worrying slide in the ringgit.
Whatever you might think of Mahathir, he has succeeded in turning the tables on Najib just by showing up and trying to tell all while the self-proclaimed “warrior” stayed away after the IGP’s cancellation of the forum.
Najib’s “warrior spirit” remarks could enter the Malaysia Book of Records as the most famous last words before a downfall.
Perhaps Mat Sabu may have hit on something a couple of years ago when he asked Malaysians to laugh out loud and publicly at those who have lost much credibility. (Watch the clip from 6:15)
In an environment of repressive laws, however, private laughter and mirth may yet prove to be one of the most effective strategies of the weak and disempowered. Don’t underestimate such humour – especially as an expression of dissatisfaction and unease with the lack of accountability over the huge 1MDB scandal. A bit like the crescendo of whispers in the fable that the emperor has no clothes or, in this case, the prime minister has no … never mind.
Could the barrage of secret jokes be another of the Weapons of the Weak (which is actually a book by Yale University political scientist James C Scott researching into “everyday forms of peasant resistance” in Malaysia). Or another manifestation of Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (another book by Scott), which includes private jokes among the oppressed as a form of resistance. (A social scientist referred me to these books when I asked him about the ‘weapons of the weak’.)
Well, after what we witnessed yesterday, I don’t think an army of public relations consultants will be able to repair the damage done to the Prime Minister’s credibility. Like Humpty Dumpty after a big fall…
Excuse me while I go back to ROFLOL @ #NowhereToHide