Monday, 12 November 2012

The Festive Firecracker Issue

Explosive firecrackers are officially banned in Malaysia. However,  good politics necessitates that the law looks the other way when it comes to the various festivities celebrated by the various communities - Eid al-Fitr (Hari Raya Puasa) by the Malays, Chinese New Year by the Chinese, Diwali (Deepavali) by the Indians -  for the sake of not jeopardizing, theoretically, the Malay vote, the Chinese vote or the Indian vote which will indeed be the case should the authorities come down hard on each communal group for detonating explosive firecrackers each time its respective festivities comes along.
The practice of detonating explosive firecrackers during festive seasons originates from the Chinese who, during Chinese New Year, detonate explosive firecrackers to superstitiously ward off evil spirits which is the reason the Chinese do it year after year since the days of their ancestors.
What reason, then, do the Malays and the Indians have for doing it when their respective festivities come along? Surely not to superstitiously ward off evil spirits too, right? What then are their reasons? A herd mentality? Revenge? Lack of parental guidance? Lack of relevant schooling?
This is the scenario in modern-day Malaysia, a nation that recently turned fifty-five but behaves like a five-year-old, a five-year-old who does not understand right from wrong, what's banned from what's not banned, what respecting your neighbor's right to peace and quiet is from what respecting your neighbor's right to peace and quiet isn't.
Or perhaps it isn't an age issue at all. Perhaps we just need to come down from our tree houses and move into the city dwellings provided for us. Is the concept of being a civilized people so difficult to grasp? Being born Asians doesn't mean we cannot behave like we were raised to be lords and ladies, noblemen and noblewomen, princes and princesses, kings and queens.
My kids are still awake. It's almost one in the morning but they're still awake, too terrified to shut their eyes and sleep for fear that the next bomb explosion-like explosion will blow them to bits.
I tell them it's not a war zone that we're in. I tell them, no, war between us and neighboring Thailand is  not being waged. I tell them we're living in the midst of a primitive, tribalistic, culturally backward people who've never come across a festive occasion before in their lives and, having now done so, are behaving accordingly. My kids are confused. They've seen the people I'm talking about wear modern-day clothes, not the garments of tree or cave dwellers.
The funny thing about kids is, the one word adults employ to describe other people which they have no problem whatsoever understanding is this one word: stupid, which is what I end up telling them everybody out there making our lives miserable is, which seems to help, somewhat, between the thundering explosion-like explosions we're shaken out of our skins and deafened by.
It's a good thing we're on good terms with Thailand, because if we weren't, now would be a good time for them to launch an attack. By the time the real explosions were sorted out from the fake ones, it would all be over. The tide of battle would be in the aggressor's favor.
Now wouldn't that be funny? 

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