shall we have our own Batman in Malaysia?
As we celebrate the launching of the new Batman movie, deputy News editor of the Sun pondered whether or not Malaysia needs her own Batman :-
Kuala Lumpur and Gotham: Apathy’s comparative study
by Terence Fernandez
THE fictional city of Gotham is one of violence, poverty and corruption.
Crime is at an upward spiral, the homeless and needy are walled into dinghy back alleys by skyscrapers which are only half occupied.
Graft and selective red-tape run the administrative system, from the judge’s chambers to the district attorney’s office and from the mayor’s office to the police department.
Filth is the order of the day as maintenance is a privilege not a right,thus restricted to wealthy suburbs, home to the powers-that-be.
The citizens of Gotham are content to leave things as they are, because really, how can you make things better when you know that you are up against the whole system?
The very people who swore to protect and serve you, are, well, Protecting and serving themselves and a select few!
In fact, art may very well imitate life if you come from a city as troubled as Gotham.
So, if you live and work in Kuala Lumpur, you might be able to relate to the ills plaguing the home of the Dark Knight.
One wouldn’t call Kuala Lumpur a cesspool, but crime, poverty and Corruption have become entrenched.
Petty thefts, armed robberies, murders and rapes are as common as Lolex watches in Petaling Street, where you can also find society’s discards – drug addicts, prostitutes and vagrants.
Just a quick dash across the five-star glitz of Jalan Bukit Bintang, will bring you to the seedy world of Jalan Alor where the steamboat stalls and buah salak hawkers complement the businesses of pirated VCD peddlers, drug pushers and pimps, where a good meal follows a quickie and a quick fix.
The swanky streets of Bangsar and Jalan Tun Razak are squeaky clean. Drive there at anytime of the day, even at night, and you are bound to see the roads being swept or even washed, and garbage collected.
But it’s not the same story in places like Kampung Baru and Sentul Pasar, where numerous appeals for proper municipal services and regular police patrols go unheeded.
On the 27th floor of City Hall, the mayor and his officers are looking Over the plans for another highrise building in the city. The mayor is Wondering why one would need another skyscraper when 30% of office space in the city is still vacant.
But, it is not his call. There goes another green lung. And there goes another crony, laughing all the way to the bank!
In Putrajaya, the prime minister sighs after reading reports of allegations of top policemen involved in protecting a wanted man and ponders on his uphill task of ridding the system of graft.
The impunity in which the city and country’s administrators and protectors operate, sometimes borders on the ironic, comical even.
For instance on Thursday, after opening a seminar on environment conservation, Federal Territory Minister Tan Sri Isa Samad announces that the government may have to allow hillslope development in Kuala Lumpur, as land is becoming scarce. After preaching about the need for environmental awareness, he tells a press conference that the Federal Territory side of the Bukit Gasing Forest Reserve will be developed.
If there ever was such a thing as saying the right thing at the right platform, this certainly was not it!
But, Malaysians being the pathetic creatures we are, will raise an eyebrow a la The Rock, reminisce about Highland Towers and Bukit Antarabangsa,shrug our shoulders and move on with our lives. Vultures have made their way into government agencies to make millionaires of a few.
Political appointments ensure that resources meant for the people are siphoned to the privileged and well-connected.
Little is ever done in the best interest of the taxpayers, although this is exactly what they will say in justifying the need for another mall or highrise building or de-gazetting a public park.
Three rapid transit systems for a city of 1.2 million makes one wonder just why one system would not suffice.
Then it dawns on you that by having multiple services, at least three parties will be happy. Who cares if these systems are not linked by efficient feeder services?
People will get used to it! Malaysians only know how to complain but they will never do anything about it. The Malaysian culture of never questioning authority will sooner or later bring the country to its knees.
It seems that as long as people have a roof over their heads and food on the table, they fear to rock the boat.
Unlike in Gotham, where you have someone prancing around in a bat suit trying to make things right again, in the real world, we lack people with that kind of desire to fight injustice.
No one is suggesting having vigilantes dressed up as oversized flying rodents, scouring our alleys and dangling corrupt politicians and officials by their ankles from the top of the Twin Towers (although many would relish the thought) but the calls for justice and fair play must be concerted efforts by everyone.
People have to stop taking the cow dung fed to us by self-serving parties and start demanding fairplay and justice. It is time those in power become answerable to those who put them there and pay their salaries – taxpayers and voters.
The only ones who would need masks are those who have something to hide – and you see them almost everyday, wearing one face at public rallies,on election rounds; and another face behind closed doors with their cronies and political masters, plotting how to rape, plunder and steal the country’s resources and the people’s trust.
Malaysians should wake up to what’s happening and realise that things can be so much better if the right people are put in the right positions.
To be content is to be dead.
No one is asking you to take to the streets. Your weapons are the courts, the media and the ballot box. It is time to put those who thrive on people’s apathy out of business.
P.S. What will Malaysia Batman be known as “Orang Kelawar” or “Kelawar man”?
NOTE: The article was published in the Sun on 17 June 2005 and the Copyright of the poster above belongs to the creator of Batman and the movie company.