IT was Deepavali last week and time for the movies. One of the biggest hits was the Hindi blockbuster Tiger 3, starring Salman Khan.
It turned out to be the third biggest hit of the year behind Jawan and Pathaan, both starring Shah Rukh Khan.
No, Salman and Shah Rukh – the two Khans – are not brothers. They have only acted as brothers in a movie called Karan Arjun, Salman as Karan and Shah Rukh as Arjun.
In fact, the two Khans are not related to each other at all. Another movie star Khan, Aamir Khan, is also no relative of either.
All three are good friends, though, and the only similarities they share is that they are Hindi movie actors and were all born in 1965.
Oh, and none of them has anything to do with the other Khans, Genghis and Kublai, who ran riot in Mongolia. Or with south Indian movie superstar Rajnikanth.
However, there are still people who believe the three north Indian Khans are related.
So, I guess it’s not really surprising that we have a Malaysian MP who thinks all Lims are related to each other.
But linking the Lims to a Lee is like saying the actor Khans are descended from the Mongolian Khans. And when it is done by someone with a doctorate, it leaves you wondering if we are all living in some kind of fantasy land.
I mean, the MP did make some far-fetched connections that would have any Indian movie producer ready to open the door to his studios.
The Malaysian Lims, father and son, are the cousins of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew (although she called him Lim), she said. Then, she brought communist leader Chin Peng – whose real name was Ong Boon Hua – into that “family history” before dragging Lim Guan Eng’s wife Betty Chew and another MP, Teresa Kok, into the frame.
Lim, Lee, Ong, Chew and Kok – how did they end up in the same family pool? Now the MP even says she has “references” that back up her bizarre claims.
I would say it has all the ingredients of a really bad Indian movie.
And a bad movie is what seems to be playing out in Malaysia these days.
The visuals aren’t great, the lines being spouted are corny and unbelievable, and people are making a song and dance about all sorts of things. History is being distorted, as is geography, and racism is rife. If it wasn’t so crazy, it would be a comedy.
And what’s an Indian movie without a villain, imagined or otherwise? Even the Deepavali celebrations have villains as the centrepiece.
The festival celebrates the victory over evil, or light over darkness, but it is told as the story of Lord Krishna slaying the demon Narakasura or Sri Rama killing Ravana who had abducted his wife; the day of Rama’s return to Ayodhya after his victory is celebrated as Deepavali.
We have our villains too. For some, like former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir, it’s the non-Malays, especially the Chinese.
He has often blamed the non-Malays for everything that has gone wrong with the country. He has always claimed that the Chinese have reaped the rewards from the country and denied the Malays. And that despite the New Economic Policy, which he enforced with vigour. Or his Ops Isi Penuh of 1987, which led to a civil service that’s almost mono-ethnic. In his latest tirade, he is grumbling that the non-Malays have not assimilated and become Malays.
“By allowing the migrants to retain their identity, we have lost our country,” he lamented. I don’t know where he has been, but last I heard, the Malays are still very much in charge of the country.
And how does one become Malay? It’s a race. It’s not like one can decide to convert and become a Malay overnight. Or can they? Dr Mahathir’s forebears, incidentally, were also migrants but he is Malay.
One wonders what he would say if all the migrants had indeed become Malays and therefore bumiputras. There would be no special privileges or rights and there would be no New Economic Policy. Would he be happy with that?
I believe our “Malaysia, Truly Asia” image is one to cherish, and that the multiracial, multicultural society we have can be the envy of others.
We don’t all have to be Malays. We just need to be Malaysians – a Bangsa Malaysia made up of Malays, Sabahans, Sarawakians, Orang Asli, Chinese and Indians. It doesn’t have to be all of one colour and one mould.
Mahatma Gandhi is reputed to have said: “Horses come in many colours, donkeys are all the same.” Malaysia needs to be a nation of horses, not asses.
But then, Dr Mahathir has also criticised Malays (apparently for forgetting) and leaders like Tunku Abdul Rahman or Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for giving the non-Malays a fair shake.
He also has another bogeyman: Singapore.
Throughout his tenure as prime minister, he had a running battle with the tiny island state. He has often threatened to cut off water supply to the republic.
Only last year, he said Malaysia should demand that Singapore Island be returned to it. He also wanted the Riau Islands, now administered by Indonesia, to be returned.
Everyone knows that Dr Mahathir has long disliked Singapore, where he studied to become a doctor. He could be harbouring old grudges.
But what drove Dr Siti Mastura Mohamad, the Kepala Batas MP, to draw Singapore into the communism debate? That’s a question only she can answer.
(PS: Dr Siti Mastura Mohamad is not related to Dr Mahathir Mohamad.)