Free Online Dictionary states: Bystanders are a person present but not involved; onlooker; spectator.
Honestly, I do not know how to begin this. But let me do so by saying what I'm about to write is not aimed at anyone in particular, and neither is it done with hatred. In anger, perhaps. But not hatred. Even then, I have deferred writing this ever since Sheikh Kick de fella was arrested as I was filled with anger, especially towards some bystanders who not only do not understand the reasons of Sheikh's act, but put it loud for others to hear or read. Had they done so in private I may have not given them much thought, as everyone is entitled to their opinion. But when they do so within the earshot of many, or blogged their minds to it in disgust, I feel their actions were done spontaneously without much thought to the truth of the situation. Like the other day when I was in a queue waiting to pay some utility bills.
Standing in queue directly behind me, 2 young guys were talking out loud about the issues of the day without bothering to lower their voice in respect to the many who were present in the Post Office. While one spoke with a Texan drawl, the other was with an Aussie slang. Both, I presume, are fresh grads and seem very much proud about having studied abroad. Initially I could only smile to myself listening to their brags; they remind me about the time when I was stuck in an 8seater plane filled with some Yankees who have never ventured out of their country, save for a nurse who had just returned from duty in Saudi Arabia. When the Yankees began talking about how great their country is compared to the world, I decided to close my eyes and ears, thinking that this bunch of people are either very naive or decidedly ignorant. But I could not do the same - shutting my eyes and ears - whilst in the Post Office. And when they got to the part of Sheikh, criticising and deriding him with some abusive names, I listened hard hoping to hear some points to justify the topic of their conversation...there were none. By that time, anger was seething within me and I asked them point blank "Have you been following Malaysian politics and do you know the merits of Sheikh's case?" They replied they do not. And when asked how is then they know of Sheikh, they replied they heard it on the TV News. Not wanting to argue with them, I asked that they read his reasons of action as written by Sheikh himself (read here), and understand it first before coming out with their own views.
Now, I may not condone to the act of displaying the flag upside down as Sheikh and several other bloggers did. But at the same time, I understand their feelings and do not condemn them for their actions, simply, when compared to the wrongdoings and misdeeds of the government itself are far too many and worse off than the disrespect Sheikh showed to the flag. Futhermore, if you read his own admission in the link above, though he stands firmly on his actions, he does so with full regret and is equally sad about it. But it is something which he found a need to do so.
Surah Al-Kahfi verse 60-82*, tells of a story about Prophet Musa a.s. and Haidir (Khidir to some spellings. According to some scolars, Haidir was a Nabi but not a Rasul, wallahualam). A brief description about their meet is that Musa a.s. could not understand the 3 actions taken by Haidir a.s., and questioned them at the end of each: Haidir bore a hole in a small boat; slay a young man; and despite the seemlingly dreadful crimes, suddenly turned righteous by rebuilding a half-fallen wall. In the end they parted company as Musa a.s. had reneged a promise not to question the actions taken by Haidir a.s. The latter however, did explain his actions as can be read here.
Now, undoubtedly Sheikh is not a Nabi, and what he did is nowhere near to the actions taken by Haidir a.s. But what Sheikh did, he did so in protest to a law that was passed without much thought to the plight of low wage earners in the retail sector of the petroleum industry in Malaysia. Sheikh was, standing up for these people who are being forced to look for new jobs at a time when the economy is not doing very well. I do suspect however, this is not the only point in Sheikh's objection. As I have mentioned in a past entry, there have been too many irregularities in the BN government. Perhaps, those 2 young grads who were too busy with their studies, were merely being bystanders to the events in Malaysia without bothering to find out the truth, subjecting their minds to the mainstream media manipulation of events. If so, then they can no longer be mere bystanders as they have unwittingly gotten themselves involved simply by listening to one side of the story and making bias comments about it.
Soon after Sheikh did what he did, the PM commented on TV that such act is considered 'biadap!'. True, it may be so. But between being biadap to the flag and being biadap to a fatwa, which is worse? (I'm assuming that visitors to my blog are Muslims). Although there is already a fatwa against the laying or wreath and 'bertafakur' especially at the Tugu Negara, the PM defied the fatwa. Should not bystanders - those who are disgusted and aghast at Sheikh's action - be more so at the PM's? If so, I did not hear nor read anyting about it from them. (read here and here).
Or, take the case of lying and cheating to the people. In one case, MAS was reported to be paying some RM15 (or is it 50) for a tray of Nasi Lemak to be served to their passengers. Whichever of the 2 prices, they are both overly charged. I wonder who the caterers are when in fact, MAS at one point of time, had an in house and profit-making catering division. Also, a company related to the PM, was given a 15years contract to supply food to the Army, which is kind of bizarre when contracts are usually never given for such a long period. I would think this is more biadap as it tantamount to lying and cheating the people of Malaysia; whose money do you suppose are being used to pay the bills after all? (read related MAS issue here)
Or, recently that Bijan fella announced a bonus to Felda settlers saying it is out of the goodwill of the government, but when you consider this report here, that tantamount to another bloody lie. Another biadap act, I would say.
Recently, the MP for Titiwangsa, Dr Lo'Lo', requested the list of hardcore poor identified by DBKL which the good Doctor would like to offer some form of assistance, true to her role as a Member of Parliament. In a biadap reply, DBKL rejected the request stating that the list belong to them, implying it is for their use only. Hello! Does that not also imply that those hardcore people also belong to them? They way I look at it, it does to me. Perhaps, a new form of slavery where the poor would be forced to feel indebted (and belonging) to a certain party only. (read here).
Let's not forget about Teresa Kok's case where the government said it was solely Police discretion to detain her under ISA, based on a newspaper as well a blog's entry. But not so recent in the past, I distinctly remember the Police issuing a statement that they cannot take action against anyone merely based on articles in newspapers or blogs. How is this so now? Who is lying and who is being lied to? Not biadap? (read here). And while we are on the ISA, that there are still more than 60 people detained under the deplorable act on mere suspicions alone. Is that not a bigger biadap? (read here).
When the government withdrew the petrol subsidy according to surge in world price, they did so without much thought to the consequences of their act. Now that the world oil price has dropped to below USD100, they keep mum about it, preferring to study the market direction before lowering current price. As I have stated in a past entry, Singapore has at least twice brought down their domestic petrol price. And that city-state, is a non-producing oil country! Don't you consider that inaction by our government to be biadap, riding on the the hardship of their own citizens?
There are perhaps a thousand and one more instances where the government is more 'biadap' for a single individual to remember. Perhaps, Maverick's entry here suffice for the moment to cap my point (and his, as well as many others). The thing again is, how is it I don't hear or read all this from those bystanders? If you do not know where to find such news of abuse of power and corruption, just click on my readscentral. There's about a hundred links there where perhaps 2 out of 3 will have one news or another.
Before anyone gets the idea Sheikh and I are buddies, please note that the only link we have is a mutual friend by the name of Hazrin, a film producer cum director, and one that I mention some months back. Other than that, I only know Sheikh as the Kick de fella guy. But sure as hell I will not kick him for this flag issue here.
* Thanks to Doc TA for pointing out the relevant verse.
ps. When I wrote 'A Play' , scene 2 (Pipes and Hydrant), it was specifically meant for these 'bystanders'; people who know nuts about nuts, but think they hold a Masters Degree in it already.