Thursday, October 16, 2014

Oktoberfest and Malaysia's Holier-than-Thou Politics

Recent news of different groups making a fuss of the German beer festival Oktoberfest, which is quite widely marked in Malaysia, reminded me of what Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra said in 1975.

The nation’s first prime minister said,  “In the old days, people never bothered about what others did, so long as they were free to do what they liked themselves. Today, one cannot sneeze without being corrected, let alone enjoy oneself. That’s what politics have done to our society.”

Almost 40 years have passed and Malaysian politics has gone from bad to worse. Many politicians today have become “moral police”, busy going around telling people what to do and what not to do; some are sincerely convinced, while some are just pure hypocrites.

Anyway, who are we to stand on moral high ground to force others to conform to our values?

Oktoberfest is merely a private activity that some Malaysians choose to take part in. Perhaps beer drinking is a vice to some, but does that make a Malaysian less Malaysian? Does having fun in Oktoberfest make a Yang Berhormat less effective as a people’s representative?

Indonesia has just elected Joko Widodo, who is widely known as Jokowi (left), as their new president. He loves heavy metal music, which is deemed satanic to some Malaysians.

He is a fan of Lamb of God, which was a band barred from performing in Malaysia in September 2013 because of its 'inappropriate' elements.

However, in Jokowi’s tenure as the governor of Jakarta, he showed to Indonesians that Indonesia could be governed in an uncorrupted and efficient manner and he could be the people’s leader.

And today, Jokowi has been entrusted with even greater responsibility as the president of Indonesia.

The world will not wait for us as we argue over Oktoberfest or other trivial holier-than-thou issues.

As politicians, we should focus our time on figuring out how to cope with the rising cost of living, how to improve the standard of education, how to stop brain drain, how to provide more affordable housing, how to increase the security, how to revamp the judicial system, how to mend the porous border in Sabah and how to face Ebola, if it unfortunately reaches our shore.

In Selangor, we need to deal with issues such as water security, dengue, flash floods, local council services and so on.

All in all, we have enough issues that are far more pressing to handle than prohibiting Oktoberfest or any other ‘unholy’ private activities (to some) in the future.

For the sake of the country, some politicians in Malaysia should really stop the holier-than-thou politics and focus on our core business – policy-making, delivering and governing.

Yeo Bee Yin 
14 October 2014