JOKES ON MALAYSIA-NORTH KOREA TIFF NOT FUNNY

The way some Malaysians act on so­cial me­dia over the mat­ter is em­bar­rass­ing and could di­min­ish our col­lec­tive re­solve

New Straits Times - - Opinion - The writer, a for­mer NSTP group man­ag­ing edi­tor, is now a so­cial me­dia ob­server zain­ulisa@gmail.com

THE num­ber of lame jokes on so­cial me­dia about our cur­rent rather del­i­cate predica­ment with North Korea is amaz­ing, to say the least.

Is this a na­tional in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plex that the only way we can get re­lief from the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion is to flood so­cial me­dia with jokes, such as how in­ad­e­quate we are when com­pared to North Korea’s mil­i­tary might?

“North Korea has nu­clear, we have Line Clear” is one of the most cir­cu­lated jokes, in ref­er­ence to the fa­mous nasi kan­dar stall in Pe­nang, which is closed for hy­giene rea­sons.

We are, of course, the butt of our jokes even when com­pared un­favourably with a coun­try that is still “at war” and spends a large chunk of its re­sources on mil­i­tary wares.

The lev­ity ex­hib­ited by many of us on so­cial me­dia may also al­low us a peek into our na­tional psy­che, which is we may be em­ploy­ing self-dep­re­ca­tion as a tool to calm our nerves.

Un­for­tu­nately, what this sit­u­a­tion shows is that, as a na­tion, we, too, are un­able to dis­play any sense of co­he­sion, a col­lec­tive front of sorts, when con­fronted with ex­ter­nal chal­lenges. There is no “we stand be­hind Wisma Pu­tra” sense or to be united be­hind our lead­ers at a time when our sovereignty is be­ing chal­lenged.

In­stead, what we have is lev­ity, in man­ner not only em­bar­rass­ing, but could also di­min­ish our col­lec­tive re­solve.

Maybe our pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with pol­i­tick­ing has made it im­pos­si­ble for many of us to see the un­for­tu­nate as­sas­si­na­tion of a for­eigner in any other way, but through the lens of do­mes­tic pol­i­tics.

It, of course, did not help that some peo­ple de­cided to plant bam­boo can­nons on our beaches and point them in the di­rec­tion of Py­ongyang to “thwart” North Korea’s nu­clear frisk­i­ness. Hon­estly, this is ex­tremely funny if only it was not done by Malaysians, hence, mak­ing us the punch­line for late night talk show hosts.

I have sev­eral Malay Mus­lim friends who are rather pissed off with these shamans for they say the lat­ter’s ac­tion had al­lowed many to take the mickey out of their race and reli­gion.

True, but my an­swer to that is that there are a lot of silly peo­ple out there, and they ex­ist in all races, cul­tures and re­li­gions. We can­not be re­spon­si­ble for them nor do they speak on our be­half.

Re­gard­less, I wish they could be North Kore­ans, then I could have a good laugh with­out some­one stick­ing it into my sides.

The mur­der of the half-brother of the North Korean leader is, of course, a mat­ter of in­ter­na­tional in­ter­est as peo­ple see it not only as an as­sas­si­na­tion, but also its im­pli­ca­tions, if any, on global geopol­i­tics. There are too many the­o­ries, con­spir­a­cies or oth­er­wise, talk­ing of regime change in North Korea and the like.

If, in­deed, the mur­der was by North Korean agents, as spec­u­lated by the me­dia, much to the cha­grin of North Korean of­fi­cials, then they must like Malaysia much.

Last year, it was re­ported that Kuala Lumpur was the un­of­fi­cial site for peace talks be­tween rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Py­ongyang and Wash­ing­ton, and, in 2002, the city was in the in­ter­na­tional me­dia spot­light when it hosted the first talks in decades be­tween the two Koreas.

In our quest to be funny, and in our rush to be the first to share rather mean­ing­less con­tent, we for­get there are nine Malaysians held against their will by Py­ongyang, and that there are fam­ily mem­bers wor­ried for their wel­fare.

Do they think all the jokes are funny?

It is just like when some of us rush to share images of ac­ci­dent vic­tims on chat groups, obliv­i­ous to the feel­ings of fam­ily mem­bers and friends of the de­ceased.

In our quest to be funny, and in our rush to be the first to share rather mean­ing­less con­tent, we for­get there are nine Malaysians held against their will by Py­ongyang, and that there are fam­ily mem­bers wor­ried for their wel­fare.

BERNAMA PIC

‘Raja Bo­moh’ Datuk Ibrahim Mat Zin per­form­ing a rit­ual to ‘ease’ the process of re­leas­ing Kim Jong-nam’s body, at the Kuala Lumpur Hospi­tal mor­tu­ary on Mon­day. On Sun­day, a video of him per­form­ing a rit­ual at a beach to pro­tect Malaysia from ‘ex­ter­nal threats’ went vi­ral.

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