Court jesters and fools among us

Their antics get national attention, make headlines and stir rift, as well as create divide


A JESTER was a key member of medieval noblemen and royal families. His job was to entertain his employer, the household and their guests. Their antics and foolish trickeries churned smiles, laughter and giggles during the Renaissance eras of consorts, mistresses and concubines, while noblemen took a temporary respite before their next power grab, land conquest or massacre.

These jesters were like a good soap opera over the weekend or the social media whispers about a lady called Cleo.

These jesters and fools exist till today. They walk among us. Some of them are placed in respectable positions, though one wonders how they get there.

Their antics get national attention, make headlines and stir rift, as well as create divide. They live even within the Pakatan Harapan (PH) rank and file.

In the last few months, the headlines and discussion have been about a back door government, conspirators, successions, deep state, the next prime minister (PM) and demands of a deadline for PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Some of these calls were created by jesters from within the PH, the same alliance that disposed a 62-year government 17 months ago in a historic change. It is historic because humans by nature are scared of changes. Malaysians, especially the Malays, are traditionally terrified of change.

We take the same road to work, sleep on the same side of the bed (even when we travel and stay at a hotel) or choose the same booth at the office toilet.

But these jesters and clowns are drowning the good work of the 17 month old government, though the latter at times are riddled with holes, largely due to their own nascent ignorance that landed the government on a sharp end.

Deputy PM Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s Employees Provident Fund scheme for housewives; Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s debt trimming efforts, keeping the books balance and inflation in check; Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo’s slashing broadband prices and speeding up net connection; Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin’s over 70 initiatives and slashing solar panel generation cost to around 17.7 sen per kWh from the once as high as 90 sen during the previous administration; Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali decimating redundant agencies and pushing the shared prosperity agenda; and Datuk Darell Leiking’s foreign investment push.

Meanwhile, the mySalam insurance scheme for the poor, and sugar tax to be converted into free breakfast for school-going students; handouts for poor families including those with special needs; slashing of exorbitant project costs and renegotiation of unfair deals; and economic growth of 4.5% to 4.7% estimated for 2019, while Singapore could go into recession or at best 0%-1% growth.

Even Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof’s flying car idea is now more palatable after Singapore unveiled and ran the first public trial of its flying taxi, the Volocopter, last month.

For many level-minded Malaysians, the noises from these jesters are not their main concerns.

But what is important is how the government will create jobs, increase the country’s wealth, reduce the income gap and urban-rural discrepancies and incentive innovations in a nation that is lagging over two decades in creations.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo during his recent presidential address articulated the future of the nation with 267 million people and 17,000 islands.

“Our dream is that by 2045, Indonesia’s GDP will have reached US$7 trillion (RM29.19 trillion). Indonesia will have become one of the top five world economies with a poverty rate nearing 0%. That is what we must head toward.”

It is time we take away the costume, the cap with bells and the mock sceptre from these jesters, jokers and fools, and put the country on a path that all Malaysians can stand tall.

Mohamad Azlan Jaafar is the editor-in-chief at The Malaysian Reserve.


(The article has been edited for correctness.)