Tuesday, January 15, 2013

listen, listen, listen to what i write yo

I wanted to blog about the RO2 giveaway that I was going to have today, but after surfing Facebook for a while, I decided to leave that for a later day instead because everyone around me seems to be talking about this particular lady called Miss Sharifah Zohra Jabeen recently so I decided I would join in the fun too.

To give the story a little background, if you have Malaysian friends and have been on Facebook recently, you would have noticed quite a number of people sharing the video "Fuck'dup malaysia university" which was uploaded by a Facebook Page called Politicalgags just yesterday. The video depicts what appears to be a  forum titled "Seiringkah mahasiswa dan politik?' (Are graduates and politics aligned?) in a Malaysian public university, UUM if I'm not mistaken, and what pissed everyone was how one of the speakers, Miss Sharifah Zohra Jabeen, publicly humiliated a student (known as Bawani KS) who on my opinion expressed a perfectly sound and logical opinion, using unprofessional methods like repeating the word "Listen" like she's on a loop, using some weird animal analogy and resorting to the ever famous retort of "if you don't like it here please migrate" to the student.


Source: http://www.morrisalex.com/2013/01/listen-listen-listen-listen-listen.html


 It has since gone viral with more than 18000 shares in just one day, while the Youtube version of it hit 65000+ views as of 15 January 2013. Most of the response on the internet was largely negative though, with netizens expressing anger and disappointment in how Sharifah handled the situation and applauding the courage of Miss Bawani in stepping up and expressing her opinion. Facebook pages were created, memes were uploaded and angry comments were splashed across Sharifah's Facebook page and her organization's SW1M page.

Of course, there are also those who side with Miss Sharifah here, looking at the video itself will give you a hint, but that's not the issue that I'm gonna talk about in this post. Anyways, if you have not watched the video, I've embedded it below. A little understanding of Malay is required though, or you can refer to Yahoo's news report about the incident here: http://news.yahoo.com/video-of-university-forum-panelist-insulting-student-goes-viral-092706199.html




While I find the video sad, I don't find it surprising. For the longest time I had the suspicion that the Malaysian government had to resort to brainwashing tactics to keep the Malay population obedient, after all any sensible person would see right through them, and that Malaysia is in fact very similar to North Korea in terms of propaganda more than anyone could imagine. How else could they get people to act like thugs during opposition's public speeches? But then again, that's not the issue.

Like Miss Bawani, I am one of the thousands of Malaysians that are unhappy with the current state our country is in and how the current ruling government is running the country. Like her, I love the country very much and how it is slowly destroyed through the acts of corruption and nepotism just pisses me off very much. The crime rate is at all time high, racism is running rampant and sooner or later everyone has to be declared a bankrupt thanks to our ever mounting debt. Malaysia is slowly dying, like it or not, despite what the government tries to tell us, and unless something is done quickly, the future is not looking very bright.

Unlike Miss Bawani however, instead of choosing to stay and fight, I am one of the many who actually "listened" to one of Sharifah's suggestions in the video, the one where she said, "If you don't like it here, migrate" as a response. In fact, the migrating suggestion is one of the oldest tricks used by the ruling politicians whenever someone tries to compare Malaysia to a better country. It's the easiest response after all, one that requires no brain power nor energy, akin to saying to your girlfriend/boyfriend, "If you don't like me go find someone else" type of sentence. 

Our dear politicians may not realize this but a lot of Malaysians are actually taking up the advice of migrating, which explains why brains and talents are our country's number one export. In Singapore alone, one could easily throw a rock and hit a Malaysian and I can't even begin to imagine how Australia, UK and America would look like. It seems that wherever you go in the world, you're bound to find Malaysians. And our government has the balls to complain about Malaysians not appreciating the country.


a report in 2011 estimated that there were close to 1 million malaysians abroad


You see, like it or not, the sad fact remains that no matter how many people share the video, no matter how many people express their anger over it and no matter how many good articles are written to condemn the actions of Miss Sharifah, the sad reality remains that our system itself is flawed to the core. 

The education system for example, is not concerned about producing critical thinking graduates, but rather churning out a population who are obedient and who views the government as some sort of angel and savior. That video that was shared was only the tip of the iceberg, because the unsettling truth is that the government and other local universities have been doing this for god knows how many years already and it is only now through the use of technology that we are beginning to see what's really going inside our universities.

Just imagine, there are 20+ public and local universities in Malaysia which are government funded and looking at that video, there's perhaps 1000+ students who are in the auditorium. And if forums like that where you are made to swear some oath that compels you to be obedient, coupled together with some yet unseen obedient political classes and such, you will have 20 000+ students every year who are forced to undergo all these propaganda filled events every year. And I'm sure that the total intake of fresh undergraduates into public Malaysian universities are definitely higher than 20 000+ every year.

So unless there's a complete revolution to the system itself, the inevitable fact remains that year after year, you'll have thousands of people who thinks like Sharifah and supports her mentality in every way possible.


brainwashing: now a malaysian syllabus 


In addition to that, getting people to switch opinions is perhaps one of the hardest things to accomplish when it comes to human behavior. Because what we believe in are intricately linked to our self worth, a person who has adopted a certain belief will start to consume information selectively. He/she will only take in information that is relevant to his/her worldviews while discarding or discrediting any information that threatens that worldview itself. Which is why it is so hard to get an atheist to believe in god or to take a fanatic to accept that god does not exist. Getting people to change their stand is intricate work, one that requires a good amount of effort. Persuasion is never easy, that academics can tell you.

Which is why it's often easier to avoid rather than confront. After all, like it or not, no matter how many criticisms people might throw at Sharifah, it will only strengthen her initial beliefs and cause her to harden her stand. That's what usually happens when a hard attempt is used. Rarely do we see people saying, "Oh no, I'm sorry, I think what you're saying does make sense and I might be wrong" or "Hmm... your argument sounds logical, let me evaluate that" when they are presented with counter arguments that threatens their world view or what they believe in. The normal reaction would be more like, "No, your facts are wrong because they're made up/came from an unreliable source/is said by someone i do not trust" or "You're just jealous" or some ridiculous arguments like animals have problems etc. 

Because that's our default mode. We would naturally want to protect what we believe in, our worldview and shattering those would mean that we have to admit that we are wrong which in turn damages our self esteem and pride, an act that is painful that our mind would naturally want to avoid. It's basic human mechanism and work, something called cognitive dissonance, something that keeps the North Koreans happy thinking that their leader is some savior and miracle, something that keeps the Malaysian Malays thinking that the opposition is some sort of devilish force and the ruling government is some god sent savior.

Nevertheless, despite everything I said, change is not impossible. The key is information sharing, knowing that your view is not the only view in the world, that alternative viewpoints exist and there's nothing such as an ultimate truth, only perspectives.

Although there are still those who stubbornly cling on to the information that are spoon fed to them, the rise of social media itself could be a good new dawn in Malaysia. A place where people can exchange information among each other and to weigh the truth themselves and this whole Sharifah viral video thing could just be the start of something new. I'm optimistic. I just hope irresponsible parties would not have to resort to dirty tactics and cause our country to descend into chaos like some African or Middle East nations.

Fingers crossed.


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