Friday, April 19, 2013

The 5 Foibles Committed at the Bersih-Organised Political Debate between Najib vs Anwar. A body and mind observation.

The Teacher in me

UPDATED 23 April.

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There are times to be brilliant, but there are also times to dim the lights and let others shine. Whenever I attend a political rally, be it for Pakatan Rakyat or Barisan Nasional, my entry into these type of events would usually be very low-key for I try to blend in with the crowd wearing very normal clothing - it camouflages my appearance. I feel like a chameleon-like undercover double agent for the benefit of my readers here. Soon, the bustling atmosphere of the event slowly gets to me and I find myself systematically splitting into 3 parts.  BEST ACTOR like myself relish the enjoyment of noticing the tiny little foibles or grand gestures concocted by political leaders to illicit a response from the crowd. As a ACTING COACH cum TEACHER, I could be extremely compassionate to these political leaders and understood how they could arrive where they are right now - some in disarray or some in extreme pride. But as a TRAGIC and CYNICAL rakyat , I could turn out to be mercilessly critical of the way our political leaders conduct themselves in the public. So which should I pick? The Artiste in me who enjoys studying politicians, the Teacher who wished the mistakes made by them could be avoided or the rowdy Cynic who keeps on harping on their negativities in the public eye? The wonderful and unique aspect of being an Artiste like me is I enjoyed embodying all these 3 types while witnessing a political rally at the same time! It enflames that part of my brain circuits that borders on pleasure and ecstasy. Let us begin examining the little foibles committed by our Malaysian politicians, not with a judgement stance but an open mind.

The Best Actor in me
Shake Hands and Mean It
The only parts of the body you could easily touch a politician without seemingly sexual is the hands. I shook Mahathir's hands before. Now also Anwar's. Referring back to the political debate organised by Bersih 2.0, I managed to very quickly shook Anwar's hands. My first impression of his hands are - it's surprisingly bony, partially devoid of the flesh of a strong handshake. The teacher in me understood that the speaking engagements must be punishing to him, dealing with all the slanders against him and age must have an impact on him, being in his late 60s now and looked thinner compares to Najib's more rotund shape. But the Cynic in me noticed that while he was shaking the crowds' hands, he was looking the other way waving. The rounds of handshakes were totally impersonal, meaningless and just a way to get through the boisterous crowd. The venue of the Bersih organised debate was held at the Selangor KL Chinese Association Hall, the same place where I, too, received such an attention and limelight before Anwar (but abeit a different profession. We both also shared the same hometown too - Penang). As a supporter, I demanded my handshakes well, and firm. But it's understandable that he could be tired from his hectic schedule and unaware of his handshakes.

The Tragic in me
Better Control of Expressions
As an Actor, often times I am commended by how well I could hold onto a particular set of expressions long enough when the Director needs to cut or change his film on set location. It's not a lie, it's not an "act" per se, it's real for it to be in order to last that long. So I put this experience of mine as a lense to see through how our local political leaders fare. When I first entered the hall, I noticed Ambiga (the founder of Bersih) scurrying around at the front rows, holding onto a look of worry and frustration (where the centre of her face is all scrunched inside). The Teacher in me understood that she must be worrying whether caretaker PM Najib would appear for the debate or not, and a thousand other minute details in organising a rally such  as this debate. It's really hard work and stressful being in her shoes, but herein lies her "biggest mistake". Her expressions of worry were displayed right at the front rows of a growing crowd! Some people would sympathise with her, but I'm sure many would wonder why. If you're a Cynic, you would take it as a sign of weakness.

Unaware of Body Language
So I sat my quiet tight ass down onto the front rows of the seat (unknowingly right opposite Anwar, even before he arrives with his bodyguards), so I could really see all these politicians' "flaws". Then came in Rafizi Ramli, the guy who publicly reveals all the alleged corruption of Raja Ropiaah's billion ringgit scandal? One big expose in Malaysia, and? I supposed fame do get into the head of actors and politicians alike, and Rafizi's chub-ish body language at that time were too vulnerable to the point of carelessly bordering into "cockiness" due to him being more horizontal? In comparison with Najib's more vertical shape due to his tall height, many would be tricked into thinking he is the more authoritative and trust-worthy one. Self-confidence is fine, but over confidence might mislead the public into thinking otherwise. The Cynic in me would be dumbfounded by display of celebrity-like persona for it appears as if these politicians have already accomplished something already, where else the polling day is still weeks away and the results are still anyone's guess. The Teacher in me understood that naturally the public wants to "thank" Rafizi for his bravery in revealing all the corruptions happening in Malaysia, it's fine to be adulated. But the Actor in me understands too well the human nature of politicians and human selfishness. My caution to Rafizi as a fellow peer - do not get too caught up with the public attention.

Articulation of Speech
I love listening to a good speaker. I don't like talking much, for I learned more when I listened. Upwards onto the stage were Anwar Ibrahim. When he reached the platform, he stood up straight and gave a quick bow to the audience. Now the Actor in me complimented his momentary stance of honoring the audience in a "gentlemanly manner". But the Cynic in me cautioned me of his gestures for it gave him the illusion of an Actor disguised as a Politician - wolves in sheeps' clothing? The Teacher in me awakens to judge him on the content of his speech instead of his outward gestures. It started off with him disregarding the media's accusations of his manifesto being "populist" for he rationalises that it is not wrong to be populist to think for the rakyat's well-being. His articulation throughout was English, and some words were hard for me to comprehend whenever he refers to some foreign authors and their literature - this gave him an air of intellect but unfortunately lacking in clarity and conciseness. An intellect are often an easy target for the bullying public and thugs. Often times intellects are mistaken as gays by the uneducated and unthinking fools in Malaysia, even though most who are rationale enough finds the sexuality aspect as redundant.

Gutter politics invading my mailbox! Help!
A person's sexuality has nothing to do with that person's work abilities. This point I also sympathised with Anwar. His flow of speech surprises me when he switched from English into the BM language, during at this point out came the clarion call for the rakyat - first by complimenting us for being not dumb to fall for Barisan Nasional's manifesto and lies. At times, I could feel his tone rising, trying to get a cheer or expecting  the crowd's uproar, but it weren't so due to perhaps the audience profile which comprises mostly Chinese educated and were there just to support him mainly for NOT being Barisan Nasional, the giant evil that soon to be brought down. The Teacher in me truly sympathises with this man Anwar until the Cynic in me lessens due to his fight against the injustices, but the Actor in me cautions that could this all be only a strategy to fulfill his ambition to become the PM? The public still respects him, largely due to their own emotional state of anger towards BN's totalitarian control of the country that makes living, especially for the lower-income Chinese extremely difficult.

Lack of Genuinity
To be genuine is very hard. To be true and genuine comes from a deep place of past experience - bitter and sweet. I remembered when I try to be genuine to someone and often times ended with a broken heart. It truly left me devastated and scarred for life. The point being it's risky, so one would resort to covering up. In order for any message to come across, both sides  - the politician/actor and the audience must find a point of connection. For Pakatan Rakyat - they want to fight against corruption and monopolisation of the select individuals. For Barisan Nasional, they want to continue to develop using the rakyat's money. Of course, I am over-simplifying here, but you have to read both their manifestos to see how one uses money to solve problems while the other uses the brain instead. The Teacher in me is somewhat uncomfortable with the crowd that night, for most were very emotional and some spoke out quite senselessly. This is largely due to the poor education system, lies that were told and the regime-like control of the country that makes a lot of people unhappy and fell victim including myself. It also have to do with how well a person perceives a receptor in all forms. Like me, when I was in my 20s, I really have no clue when a girl goes all her way to make me like or fall for her.

War of the minds with Najib in absentia
 It's a matter of age, maturity and perception. It also falls on the part of the politicians to make the effort be genuine, despite how the crowd may seem like. I could vouch that some of the audience that night really do listens and want to know more about the arguments between Anwar and Najib, besides some more emotional types. I'm sure Anwar, Ambiga and Rafizi are all smart fellows, but how far would it convince a voter like me to trust them? They would have been smart enough to hire a coach or teacher to help them avoid these foibles in the first place. This goes also to Barisan Nasional. Personally for me, the odds are favouring PR due to how they place the importance of human rights, justice and fairness above economic policies. But you never know until the election results. It's always the little things that would determine the political party either a victory or a loss at the very last minute.

War of the flags
Important disclaimer: What I'm listing here are merely the outward cosmetics of the politicians, and does not mean I endorse either political parties. It also does not mean the examples I've listed should portray that politician in any negative way, but merely as an observer cum impartial supporter to instil a more conscious effort on the part of politicians to be aware of their physical interactions with the public.

So at the end of the political debate with caretaker PM Najib in absentia, I slowly gathered the 3 pieces of me - the Actor, the Teacher and the Cynic back into myself - so I could make an informed decision to vote. You can consider those 3 types as my pinch of salt against all the political ceramahs and brouhaha. They served as filters for me to judge which political party is the "lesser evil". BN have plenty of money but is it enough to promise a better future when racism, cronyism, corruption, enslaving employment market, escalating prices and stagnant salaries are left for the rakyat? PKR stresses on human rights, demolishing of monopolies, abolishing corruption and democratisation of all sectors, but would it truly delivers? Hopefully, this article would help you too in the upcoming elections. Brilliant people like me are impatient for the real results to come for I could foresee the future already, despite these foibles committed.

It's sad that Barisan Nasional committed these mistakes:
1) Raising prices by imposing taxes on goods, services and even my house! My house monthly maintenance fees increased 30%!
2) Caretaker PM Najib refuses to debate - shows he has much to fear?
3) Media is so controlled by BN, that acting jobs are scarce for non-Malays who spoke and read the national language well. This is racism.