As a student of philosophy, I was fascinated by the Malaysian Prime Minister’s citing of the ancient Greek sage Plato in defence of his recent attempt at an election-clinching budget.
I suppose that this was an effort by Najib or rather his speechwriters to invest his words with some sense of sorely-needed intellectual gravitas or even, God help us, integrity.
But this parroting of Plato’s comment that “the measure of a man is what he does with his power” possibly only served to set his audience thinking.
And thinking, let alone full-on philosophising, is the last thing any Umno/BN politician can afford to encourage the Malaysian populace to do.
For example, the particular line the Prime Minister quoted from Plato only served to inspire most of us to ponder what in fact Najib himself has done with his power, and to quickly reach the conclusion that he’s done nothing with it whatever, or at least nothing good.
And, in the light of his notoriously profligate expenditure of public money in pursuit of continued power and future profit, the mention of Plato also serves to remind us of the proverbial warning to “beware of Greeks”, or, as in the case of Najib and his accomplices, geeks, “bearing gifts.”
At the same time, the Plato quote must surely have inspired any regime members and cronies dissatisfied with their share of the nothing good that Najib has so far done with his power to consider how poorly he’s rewarded their self-seeking loyalty.
While of course the most innocent and ignorant of Umno/BN supporters and potential voters will still be struggling with the thought that whatever Plato that Najib was talking about was as much Greek to them as his ensuing quote from the Quran that he was “striving to do good”.
So, having encouraged and even inspired us all to consider him and his obscene regime in light of the Platonic ideal, and thus started us all furiously thinking, I’ve been wondering which philosopher Najib proposes to expose us to next.
Machiavelli, though not so much a philosopher as a propagandist for medieval Florence’s notorious ruling Medici dynasty, stands-out as the most likely and appropriate candidate, considering how easily his axiom that “the end justifies the means” translates into “BN justifies the means”.
And then there’s Neitzsche, whose concept of “Man and Superman” that was so avidly adopted by the Hitler regime in Nazi Germany similarly sits very comfortably with Umno/BN’s concept of natural supremacy of the Umnoputras over mere bumis and others.
Lest these appear too obvious, however, there are plenty more apparently innocent philosophies for Najib to adopt for his own nefarious purposes.
Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am”, for example could well be co-opted to justify the Umno/BN regime and its mainstream media’s keeping the rakyat in the dark like so many root-vegetables afflicted with the motto “I don’t think, therefore I yam”.
And clearly, given the wall of secrecy behind which the regime attempts to conceal its malefactions and misdeeds, Umno/BN places considerable belief in Francis Bacon’s contention that “knowledge is power”, as well as its Shakespearean corollary that for the knowledge-deprived masses “ignorance is bliss”.
However, most philosophers with whose ideas I am familiar are never likely to be quoted by Najib or any other Umno/BN would-be orator.
The wisdoms of Siddharta Gautama aka Buddha, for example, like “happy is the man who has overcome his ego”, would be absolute anathema to the kind of Najib-style arrogance that revels in addressing paid audiences displaying “I love PM” placards.
And the Buddha’s “Four Noble Truths” leading to the conclusion that the achievement of Nirvana can result only from the elimination of all desire and selfishness is a proposition that could hardly be more directly contrary to the Umno/BN philosophy of rampant greed and unbridled plunder.
Just as the Buddha’s “believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, unless it agrees with your own reason” is an all-too-obviously appropriate warning against believing a word than any Umno/BN politician, spokesperson or so-called ‘journalist’ comes out with.
Similarly, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “man is born free, yet everywhere is in chains” is unlikely to get a run in an Umno/BN speech or publication, on the grounds that it clearly expresses undesirable opposition to the regime’s ever-repressive rule.
And even less likely to get a mention is Karl Marx, who not only provided Umno/BN bugbear Communism with much of its philosophical foundation, but also declared that “religion is the opiate of the people”.
Whether or not this is true always and everywhere, it certainly all-too-accurately describes the situation in Umno/BN’s Malaysia, where religious rivalry is fostered by regime-sponsored organisations like Perkasa and professional bigots like Hasan Ali and former PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa.
Speaking recently at a National Islamic Missionary Movement seminar held in the Umno-owned World Trade Centre in KL, Mat Isa claimed that there’s a plot afoot to make Malaysia a Christian state.
“I want to say, to encourage (fellow Muslims) to unite (and) face the strategy that is being planned by Allah’s enemies,” he ranted.
“After the (Sarawak) election, to celebrate their victory, for example the DAP, held a thanksgiving event,” Malaysiakini quoted him as continuing. “During this event, among the things that was (sic) mentioned and prayed for was for Malaysia to be a Christian state.”
Such arrant rubbish as this, along with the Prime Minister’s unrelentingly sanctimonious pretence of upholding and defending Islamic values, most certainly smacks of addiction to religion as a popular opiate.
Not to mention the absolute height of hypocrisy, considering the regime’s unholy record, both past and present, of corruption, lying, land-grabbing, money-laundering, fraud, embezzlement, suspicious deaths in custody and perversion of the of the law to escape justice for these and sundry other crimes against the Malaysian people.
Yet these crooks and their Greek-quoting geek of a ‘leader’ are still begging for Malaysian voters to hand them another term in office.
Far from remaining blithely philosophical about their fate as they so tragically have for decades, however, Malaysians would do well to turn a deaf ear to such pathetic pleas unless they want more of the same, and get their brains into gear.
Or, as George Santayana more elegantly and memorably expressed this caution to anyone contemplating continued unthinking support of the stinking and steadily sinking Umno/BN regime, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”