Plantation Cycling Tales – Part 4

January 26, 2013

The weather seems to be dead stacked against me. Yesterday the rains were relentless rendering many of the plantation roads impassable. I took the opportunity to go through the maps to seek out an alternative route – even changed my tires on my bicycle from the skinny variety to the no nonsense fat ones to better cope with the sloshy terrain – and wondered to myself whether I would be able to complete my survey of the plantation roads. Somewhere between folding my map and figuring out whether I might have bitten off more than I could chew. Dr Pang suggested that I stay another night.

He told me that there’s a timber banquet tonight and it would be a good opportunity for me to network and get to know some of the movers and shakers. Mrs Pang even took the trouble to kit me out in one of her husbands bush jackets – it was slightly tight around the shoulders but the rest fitted well. I was happy with the man who stared out at me from the full length mirror. So was Melanie, their tom boyish twenty four year old youngest daughter. Who has just returned from her studies in Australia. I’ve known Melanie since she was a teen studying in RI used to tuition her in math as her father once described her grasp of numbers as “atrocious.”

Melanie has always been close to me. Too close for comfort when I think back. We used to play badminton together and we even developed this game where she would always try to tickle me whenever her parents weren’t looking. Mostly during meal times where she excelled in footsies. When she was younger, it was just plain innocent fun – but as Melanie started to fill up as she reached womanhood and one day I noticed she actually had tits. I felt that it was time to put a stop to this. It just didn’t seem right. Or even healthy. The problem with Melanie is she’s still stuck in this old time warp. Lately her obsession has morphed into vampirism – where she has taken to openly bitting me.

I have to confess, through out my entire life. I have always been bitten by women. This I can imagine is something that is totally alien to most men. But for me, it is virtually impossible not to recall a single incident where a woman has not been obsessed about sinking her molars into me – I am just a very bitable person. I am not kidding you – and most of the time, I don’t take it personally as I know woman are just hardwired that way. Its not really their fault. They can’t help themselves. As the moon affects them. If they don’t bite, they will just explode like a hand grenade. That’s the way I have always seen it.

That I imagine is the only way a man who has been bitten all his life by women can really see it. I wished I could say I saw it differently, but I don’t – as this is how it is with my life. I even happen to believe very strongly, this phenomenon may yet be one of those undiscovered medical condition like bulimia, sleep apnea, menopause that seems to afflict all women irrespective of age and education – women are cursed. They have to bite. Otherwise life simply cease to be meaningful.

On one occasion when I was changing in the guest room – Melanie opened the door with a master key, snuck up and surprised me by sinking her teeth into my back again. This time I slapped her hard. She looked at me with an expression of shock and ran off crying. I did not know whether I did the right thing. But I feel that it’s right. As that impossible girl doesn’t seem to respect me or even take me seriously enough to stop her nonsense. I just feel that if I don’t put my feet down, things may get dangerous. Especially if news leaks out. What would people think? That’s really my primary concern. Besides Melanie already has a boy friend – why can’t she go and bite him instead?

Dinner at the timber merchants association was a run of the mill affair – with elections fever in the air, it was appropriately laced with plenty of political rhetoric from both sides who seemed quite content to slug it out quite openly on stage. At one point during dinner, the opposition speaker even threatened to go over to the MCA table and give the fat pudgy man who called him a womanizer a thump – naturally, the whole affair fizzled out when a few stout men intervened and not long after both sides had shaken hands – they were back at each other throats again.

A casual observer may conclude that Malaysian politics is chaotic and at times emotionally driven. That may well be true. But I don’t believe this is a bad thing at all. Not at all. As the whole country is democratizing – suddenly people no longer feel afraid of speaking out against the ruling party any longer. They may behave like clowns sometimes. They may even fall over each other as they try to get their point across to the audience. But I tell myself, this belief that the ordinary man feels now – that he can somehow make a difference in Malaysia is so very real and powerful.

I remind myself as I watch the well choreographed antics of the politicians from both side – this is democracy in motion. It’s never prim and proper, but slightly messy and even rough around the edges, that is only to be expected as Malaysians slowly get used to the idea that they have an elemental right to speak without fear and favor. I tell myself, if one is able to bear out patiently the sparks and heat, one may even come to accept the idea that as far as political maturity is concerned – Malaysians are maybe 10 to 15 years ahead of the average Singaporean psyche. In Singapore, I am reminded of how the world’s most useless Internet brigade did not even advise Mini Lee against making a bloody arse of himself when he sued Yawning bread for an article concerning AIMgate. It seems we have a very far way to go before we can lay claim to the idea that ours is a fully functional democracy. Malaysians do not seem to have that problem.

Throughout dinner Melanie was sullen. Often refusing even to look at me or to touch the food that I had thoughtfully ladled for her. I told myself may be I was slightly brusque with her. I tell myself, I will make it up to her tomorrow just before I leave.

After dinner – some of the timber merchants adjourned to the timber association for a night cap and a few hands of mahjong. It didn’t take me very long to figure out this was a sort of informal club – it was the way the men behaved. The were all quite relaxed. As they spoke quiet openly about the political changes that are likely to sweep across the business landscape. When one of the elders turned to me and asked, me what I thought.

I simply said, “when elephants fight, the mouse deer gets trampled to death.” Many fell silent after these words. I did not elaborate. I need not. As that night those men realized only too well what this Malay idiom meant – it means, when the Malays fight amongst themselves then we Chinese may find it difficult to turn the wheel of life. The way I see it, if the opposition wins this time, then it will herald a new political era for Malaysia. Transformational change is likely to sweep through the country – but no one knows whether this will lead to salvation or perdition – it is very hard to say.

The following day as I prepared to leave the Pang’s and resume my bicycle expedition across the plantation roads – Melanie packed some fried rice and roasted pork for me. She had woken up earlier than usual to make it specially for me – and just before I left she asked me politely, “can I please bite?” I expressed, “OK lah, a quick one.” After bitting me. I said to her that, this would have to end. As if her parents found it, I would probably end up in hot soup. Melanie said, no one will know. It will be our secret forever. I didn’t want to argue as I wanted to leave on a happy note.

As I rode off – I said to myself, there is so much road to cover…..I must be patient.

Darkness 2013

———————————————————

“I think the greatest threat to Singapore is not from the outside. It is is within. That is to say, it resides in old fashioned thinking that should have been jettisoned long ago. Now if you want to see how damaging old hat thinking can really be to a country – then all you really have to do is look at how shambolic the new internet brigade really is – as when you look closely at how they go about scaling and interdicting threats, then one reality will emerge very clearly – these people have absolutely no idea what they are doing. Coming to think of it, the person who runs this outfit should pay back every cent of his salary to the tax payer – very recently Mini Lee sued Yawning bread. Tell me what this did achieve? What did the PAP really accomplish?

All they did was make a whole lot of people hot underneath the collar – now you all have to ask yourself, why didn’t the Internet brigade caution against such a move?

My feel is simply this. If an outfit fails so many times to deliver on the bacon – then perhaps it is time to bring in professionals.

Otherwise my fear is the relationship between netizens and state will simply get from bad to worse. Already people are beginning to take a hard line, they have gone to full measured response, which is really just another way of saying, we refuse to cooperate with you! If things don’t improve, it is likely that positions will harden further and things may even get much worse.

I think, it is time for the whole cabinet to really take a closer look at how the Internet brigade earn their salaries – they really need to ask the leader of this badly led (as I do not blame the foot soldiers. I really sympathize with them) – what the fuck are you doing?”

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