Comic relief for the serious mind

THE two-word catch-phrase had been the battle cry for Malaysia and Malaysians in the sports arena. It was witty, catchy and easily adopted by people of all ages. It was used sporadically but in 1992, it became official. Over the years, these two words made headlines around the world from the humble Beung Kha Nong Gymnasium in Cambodia where participants were kicking the shuttle cock in an unknown game to the Wembley Arena where the All-England finals are held.

For a good decade, it lived up to expectations and sports loving Malaysians associated themselves with it. As we welcomed the new Millennium and with development and advances (including sending up the first space tourist), the same words took a different connotation and meaning.

Instead of linking the two words with success or the fighting spirit, they became intertwined with everything that is wrong with the systems in the country.

The term has since been used to ridicule acts, deride omissions, mock decisions and scorn results. But don't take them seriously because in many instances, they provide comic relief to many of the serious issues that make the headlines.

Some examples:

» The cabbie charges RM20 for a ride from Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman to Jalan Petaling in Kuala Lumpur. You pour your woes to a friend on how you were bullied in parting with four times the metered fare. Then you tell him that your complaint fell on deaf ears. His reply would be: Nothing will happen. This is Malaysia Boleh!

» You are driving along the highway and keeping to the speed limit of 110kph and suddenly an express bus overtakes you. You turn to your travelling companions and say: This fellow must be exceeding the speed limit. The chorus of voices say in unison: Malaysia Boleh Ma!

» You are reading news reports on the Auditor General's Report and start a discussion on how one government agency bought screwdrivers for RM80 each. The guy next to you says: Don't waste my time: Malaysia Boleh. Semua pun Boleh.

» You are attending a seminar on good practices at the workplace. The speaker's power-point presentation depicts a worker on a high beam with no helmet and safety harness. Even before he can comment, the entire gathering screams: Malaysia Boleh!

» The Sports Ministry spent RM20 million on the "Road to London 2012" project. When queried by reporters, the minister promises that the accounts will be open for inspection. However, a senior official in the ministry vetos that decision. The satirical response: This is the Malaysia Boleh spirit where an official can make the minister look like a fool.

» At a function, the minister talks about good governance, transparency and accountability. In the press conference that follows, one journalist asks why there were no open tenders for his ministry's contracts. Even before he can answer, another journalist provides the riposte: As if you don't know. Malaysia Boleh!

» Someone looks at the honours list and screams: What did this fellow do or contribute for this honorific? Answer: Don't ask stupid questions! This is Malaysia Boleh!

» Another minister is asked about some expenditure incurred in some promotional activities which are deemed too high. Asked for an explanation, the minister mumbles something to the effect that it comes under the Official Secrets Act. Someone in the audience in a high-pitched voice says it straight: Malaysia Boleh. Semua pun Boleh!

» A national sportsman is charged with statutory rape and gets away with a slap on the wrist – a non-custodial sentence. There is a huge hue and cry and in the midst of serious discussions, someone decides to inject some humour and says: Everything is possible. Don't you know the meaning of the phrase Malaysia Boleh?

STOP PRESS: (Latest) …

Former tourism minister is appointed chairman of the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board. It's a kind of demotion climbing down from being the head honcho to being in an advisory capacity but with plenty of opportunity for travel and perks. The immediate response: This is Boleh land. All that is needed is just one signature to legitimise a dream and continue as if nothing happened. With one stroke of a pen, anyone can turn from an unemployed politician to a powerful someone! Malaysia Boleh!

Long live Malaysia Boleh! May the spirit live on!

R. Nadeswaran offers some humorous reprieve on some heavy subjects to bring some cheer to those suffering from Monday morning blues. Comments: citizen-nades@thesundaily.com