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Fear and loathing in the province of respectability. September 17, 2007

Posted by elizabethwong in "We can do better", Columns, Malaysia, Note2Self, Politics, Writings.

I read, with horror and frustration, that once again, university authorities had the gall to walk into dorms and harass students.

But I’m even more frustrated that our student activists are so disempowered that they allow these thugs to do whatever they wish. If we wouldn’t allow anyone to pilfer our homes or our rooms, why then are students allowing these thugs get away with this? (Just a thought, don’t students keep baseball bats in their rooms, like we used to?)

My latest column is a reflection of this frustration, which has been in my thoughts for a week now.

Fear and loathing in the province of respectability

Eight years ago, amidst the sound and fury of Reformasi, one of the student leaders went missing.

Let’s just, for the moment, call him “Mr. Respectable”.

He was after all, a proponent of ‘respectability’ and ‘respectable’ dressing among the student activists.

I thought it was one of those local odditities, considering it was only a few years ago when we wore what was considered then, haute couture for student activists – tank tops, dirty black jeans, Blundstones faded to a hue of purple, sometimes with a flannel shirt and a scarf around the neck, in anticipation of delights such as a hot sunny day or tear gas in downtown Sydney.

A week later, we discovered he was holed up at Armada Hotel, Petaling Jaya. Between room service and cable TV, he made furtive calls, arranging meetings with Reformists to offer anything their hearts desire, so long as they saw ‘his light’.

Little did we know that during one of those ‘respectable’ discussions with government officials, he had negotiated a sweet deal for himself. (Con’t reading here)


1. Bob K - September 17, 2007

Hmmm .. I suspect I know who you might be talking about

2. whispering9 - September 18, 2007

Hi Eliz,
Which is worse the fear of intimidation or the loath of betrayal? You are not one for idle words, so what do you mean by ‘She started a new job”. Is there a catch somewhere for us or it is just that? Thanks…for reading my comment.

EW: No, it was purely in reference to Arif’s question, ‘Where’s Susan?’. Naturally, this post is hardly related to Susan’s blog. May I suggest any conversation in regards to Arif’s query be conducted there since he has opened the topic for discussion on his end. Cheers.

3. monsterball - September 18, 2007

Thugs are paid to do a job….to divert attentions on something else?

4. ben - September 18, 2007

I am still painfully disreputable, I promise.

much love

EW: That’s why I still adore you to bits, Ben 😛

5. harrisonbinhansome - September 18, 2007

Hi Monty,

What happened to Suasan’s blog? She quit blogging?

6. wits0 - September 22, 2007

In Bolehland, respect is titled, hardly earned. And titles can be bought for a price and/or through sycophancy and connections. Hence the general “quality” of most bosses. Walk loudly and hide a tail.

7. cherwith - September 22, 2007

I guess as a university students I do know that when they have spot checks we have no choice but to allow them in our rooms. They do it on the pretext of someone lost their mobile etc but in the case of the UPM student there wanted to probe more into their political inclinations and when in the room with a motive to intimidate and create fear. We are often told in university that we should be thankful,not cause any trouble as we were given a place, we should feel lucky etc. If we go against the doctrine they kick us out, very easily.The problem we do not know what our rights are! With the AUKU, we have very limited say in anything.I think I had more freedom as a student in high school. There used ambiguous terms in the AUKU so there can use any grounds to get you out for not following the rules.

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