When Ad (not his real name) looked back at his weekend, he felt only annoyance. His Friday started with speculation of a state of emergency which, in and of itself, he was fine with. It seemed fitting for greater restrictions to be declared as Covid-19 cases had been spiking.
The public too seemed unperturbed, perhaps adding to the acceleration of damage.
But eventually, panic began setting in, flooding chat groups and social media.
What happened over that weekend saw the people turn against the politicians. Hashtags began making the rounds on social media, protesting the circumstances that had been revealed to the people. The movement signalled an anger and a sense of panic, with posters also in protest plastered on walls and on public transportation to be seen by commuters on their daily commutes. It was quiet revolt that did not go unnoticed.
Soon, more news breathed new rumours of grassroots’ contempt towards the figures that started the alarming chain of events and the theories behind the event.
That weekend saw the people’s views characterised by anger and blame. Public figures were criticised for their hunger for power. Icons once idolised were associated with desperation.
Did the patriarch, Abahku, who once joked about caning, and his gang realise this? Their resentment started months ago when the current government and their jostling for positions came to fruition. They rejoiced in power but this was cut short when figures of reformation began to poke at openings.
I might have missed out on the details that added to the complexity of this political deviancy. What good could that argument do if the people were disheartened and displeased?
Although speculation of an emergency was not yet confirmed, feelings will always precede events. The anxiety was not unreasonable, either.
Ad’s anxiety was over the uncertainty of his future.
As a student who had learnt of politics and the economy, he knew that political instability would not be good. His fear was of the conditions that would preside due to the past few months and leading up to the weekend – fear over the loss of his planned career and his livelihood.
But not every youth would react as Ad did. There are those who would not be steered towards the bureaucratic horror that took place. News was scrolled through and read in passing. They had jobs to hold on to, meals to plan with what money they could save, and studies to struggle through.
In her song “Flesh Without Blood”, Canadian singer Grimes sang “I don’t see the light I saw in you before.” While this may be a lament of past loves or the things Elon Musk said, it also expressed people’s feelings about the politicians who had pledged their service to the people but gave no thought for the little man.
Or perhaps they did, but their thoughts were blurred in the transmission of messages to the people, who would have a hard time reciprocating any form of love at the moment.
Malaysians have been exiled from the ideal state that the country could achieve. Our fall from grace may be credited to the providers of services that failed to pay tribute to the people who positioned the authorities on their throne. That throne itself is under constant threat of uncertainty and instability.
As the threat lingers, the future of youths will continue to be uncertain due to actions they never asked for. Their worry will stay, as will the anxiety that precipitates every speculation in the political arena.
I do not know how to ease the people’s current bitterness, but I know that to keep on in the way we have been made to endure will no longer do us any good.
Until we can live without the heaviness we now carry, there will be no bakti to wish for ourselves or anyone else.