So there you are sitting in your own home, minding your own business, when your neighbour suddenly comes over and gives you a slap.
“What the…?!”, you say more in surprise than indignation.
But before you can even finish your sentence your son runs over to breathlessly defend the neighbour, “Dad, it is very clear that the neighbour is just swinging his arms because Raffles founded Singapore in 1819”.
And whilst you are still digesting what in this whole series of events supports this ludicrous fantasy of a conjured up excuse, and how it does not justify the neighbour slapping you anyway, your son goes on to:
- grade you an F in PE because obviously, it’s your fault for putting your face where it could be slapped; and
- criticise you for riling up the neighbour by daring to take offence for being slapped.
I’m no self-proclaimed writer, but I did study English Lit for 6 years (distinctions all the way), have a law degree and practised law for 10 years. So I believe I have some ability in critically analysing pieces of writing.
- There is nothing whatsoever in TDM’s poem to suggest that he was referring to Sultan Hussein’s sale of SG to the EIC in 1819. Nothing. This is entirely a fantasy and an excuse conjured out of thin air by Alfian.
- Nothing else in the poem supports (or even hints) at this interpretation.
- Nothing about the present situation/ context the poem is written in (TDM’s loss of his PM-ship, Bersatu etc) supports Alfian’s reading.
- Even reviewing the poet to see if this is a theme he has repeatedly raised is unhelpful. Quite the opposite, TDM has a long and established record of throwing shade/ shit at SG. I can’t recall the last time TDM talked about the sale of SG to the EIC.
- After conjuring up the excuse that TDM is referring to a historical event, Alfian disagrees with TDM’s understanding of history. This is the classic “ownself talk, ownself shiok”.
- Imagine if your kid comes up to you with a drawing. You take a look at the squiggly lines and say, “That’s a pretty lousy poem you have written there”, and go on to wax lyrical about iambic pentameter. Your kid brought you a drawing, not a poem.
- This is what Alfian is doing. Don’t be fooled, he isn’t criticising TDM at all, just a figment of his own imagination.
- If TDM’s point is really to use the sale of land to the EIC as = to loss of Malay rights, he could well have used the example of the sale of Penang island in 1786 by the Sultanate of Kedah.
- Yes lah, TDM can choose whichever example he wants, but he is a senior statesman and knows well the effect of choosing SG as an example overusing a domestic one.
- Please don’t be so naive as to imagine that TDM’s intentions are benign.
- Hand on heart, how many of us read what was written (whether the original text or whichever translation you choose) and immediately thought, “Ah, TDM is clearly referring to the 1819 sale of SG by Sultan Hussein to the EIC and nothing else.”?
- I would say many of us read it and didn’t come to that conclusion. Instead, we started wondering what TDM is up to again, and why he is trying to stir tensions with SG (and on racial grounds!?).
- Shouldn’t we categorically reject this? Instead of finding excuses for TDM. Instead of blaming Min Shan and suggesting that he is “riling up Singaporeans”.
Well, I am riled up, but not by Min Shan or his response.
I’m riled up by Mahathir. Buay sian meh uncle? You 95 liao, still so hungry for power. Whole day whole night still want to use SG as a bogeyman and play the race card. Give it a break lah.
I’m riled up by Alfian and his ilk, who seem to justify their existence by trying to find an angle (any angle) to criticize the G in every situation. Bit sad ain’t it? To have that as one of the defining purposes of your life. Do something useful lah.
I’m riled up by those who continue to support Alfian. Open your eyes. People slapping us liao, and this fella is justifying the slaps and telling us we are wrong to feel pain, wrong to react.
Loving critic? My dog’s toenail clippings are more loving than him.
This story was originally published by Wei Hong
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of our team or its members.