Monday, April 24, 2006

From Malu to Marah (Embarrassment to Anger)

Dr M is mad. I mean angry-mad, not crazy-mad. His successor, Abdullah Badawi has scrapped yet another of his grandiose, multi-bilion ringgit, mega projects; the Half Bridge, aka Crooked Bridge, aka Scenic Bridge.

In fact, he should be happy. His disciple did him a favour actually. If they had gone ahead to build the ‘Half Bridge’; it would have made Malaysia a laughing stock; and for generations to come, stand as a monument of the foolishness of a man who ‘shit half-way then look for toilet paper’.

Externally, this project has generated a great deal of ill-will with its neighbour Singapore; quite apart from the many hours of negotiations that could have been put to more productive use. So it was wise of Badawi to apply the Gordian Knot solution to this issue and get it out of the way once and for all.

Maybe the real reason for Dr M's anger is found in the Chinese idiom, 老羞成怒, which means; embarrassment turns to anger.

Remember the time when Malaysia ran into financial difficulties during the 1990s currency crisis? He blamed everyone else: Soros, IMF, even his deputy Anwar. He decided to eat the humble pie, coming to Singapore hat in hand. When Singapore said no - embarrassment turned to anger. From then on, he takes every opportunity to ‘tekan’ us. Many Singaporeans can recall the famous 'there are many ways to skin a cat' remark.

He sacks his deputy, and reluctantly picks his second choice to succeed him. Surprise, surprise. His second choice far outperforms him at the polls and even wins back the state he lost to PAS. Further malu to marah.

Now, one by one, his successor dismantles his pet mega projects; the final insult being to ‘surrender’ to his 眼中钉 (thorn in the flesh), Singapore. Lagi malu, lagi marah.

I think the good doctor should heed the advice of the management consultant who came up with this SUMO formula: Shut Up and Move On.

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