Some in cyberspace need glasses

This is a tale of two elderly Malaysians, from two different backgrounds, using different platforms to express their concerns over issues they fear will, if not already, unravel the nation.

One is Tun Hanif Omar, former inspector-general of police, and an illustrious son the nation should be proud of.

He witnessed and participated in the evolution of the country, from the backwaters of an agrarian society to a newly industrialised country.

The other is Maznoor Hamid, a retired educationist, married to a Scotsman, very articulate and feisty, and writes regularly in her blog Anak Si Hamid.

She can't be deemed to be illustrious, in Hanif's league, but she would fit nicely into the "Melayu glokal" category -- a globalised Malay who had lived and worked abroad in several different countries across the globe and yet very firmly rooted to her Malayness and what it represents.

Hanif had, in his Dec 8 speech at a tea party for government retirees hosted by the Selangor Sultan in conjunction with the ruler's birthday, among others, said:

"By God, it is as if there is a grand design in place that can lead to the country's destruction, if not carefully managed."

In his speech, Hanif also said the alternative media has eroded the credibility of the traditional media.

These new media, he added, were also being used to "spread slander and lies without shame or fear of Allah".

Apart from that, Hanif also said: "There are also leaders who travel from one country to another to speak ill of their own country to gain international support. This is unlike in the United States or other Western nations, where political differences end at their shores and are not brought internationally, for the sake of national unity, pride and dignity."

True to form, one of the alternative media, The Malaysian Insider, took on Hanif for pointing fingers at the alternative media, but not without mocking the former IGP first.

Headlining its news analysis with: "The elite can reminisce at tea parties, but others slave for a better Malaysia" the Insider wrote:

"He might not be any different from the Englishman who thought the sun would never set on the British Empire. And of course, both have the leisure of tea parties to lament the harsh new world where sensitive subjects are no longer taboo."

Beyond the mock, the Insider took the opportunity to take a few swipes at the traditional media, namely the New Straits Times and Utusan Malaysia, pointing out that the traditional media may have "hurt themselves with biased coverage and plain lies".

It wrote: "Look at the number of times Utusan Malaysia and the New Straits Times have had to apologise to settle lawsuits."

Probably the remarks by the former IGP had stung so much that in its eagerness to mock and debunk Hanif, the Malaysian Insider, when getting on its high horse, forgot about the number of apologies that it had to dish out for gross misreporting, if not outright lies.

By any standards, the number of apologies from it in its few years of existence makes the traditional media, which had existed for decades, look like novices in the misreporting department.

The issue of black kettles and pots aside, the concerns of Hanif were brushed aside as views from pensioners in rose-tinted multi-focal glasses and that their legacy has become today's burden.

It is probably the arrogance of youth that stemmed such haughtiness but much as the Insider may want to believe that it represents the views of the majority, it is obviously misguided.

Its contention that Malaysia is no more a racial tinderbox but instead turning into a class divide is shallow and not truthful.

And that brings in the tale of Maznoor of Anak Si Hamid who recently wrote in her blog about how some had taken the "opportunity" in mourning Nelson Mandela's death to sully Malaysia as a nation that practises apartheid.

Her piece was sparked by a comment made in the British Daily Mail where it was written: "The only country left in the world with its own version of apartheid is Malaysia and the country needs a great fair government and a leader that could walk in the shoes of Mr Nelson Mandela."

Maznoor, obviously chagrined by the comment, which has also obviously been uttered by others on numerous occasions, wrote: "Yes indeed. Malaysia needs a 'great fair government', especially to balance the disparity of wealth between the Chinese of immigrant stock and the native Malays and Others.

Anak Si Hamid pointed out the list of the wealthy in Malaysia and said: "You see, you can't possibly make and accumulate such wealth and clout if you suffer discrimination and segregation like the blacks in the United States and in South Africa."

It is doubtful that what Maznoor had written had put a stop to the flippant retorts accusing Malaysia of apartheid.

Ignored, too, would be the fact that Mandela, when he was the president, had sought then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's views, on implementing the affirmative action ala New Economic Policy in post-apartheid South Africa.

For some, glasses are needed to see Malaysia beyond cyberspace.

Myopia, after all, can be remedied.