Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Imitation is the best form of flattery

More than twenty years ago I joined a safari of sorts. But instead of taking photographs of animals and other wildlife we took any picture of interest. Accommodation, petrol, breakfast and dinner were provided free of charge. We only had to provide our own cars, cameras, films and money for daytime meals. The journey brought us south to Johor Bahru, the whole east coast of Peninsula Malaysia, then crossing the east-west highway towards Kangar and then back home.

Somehow when we reached Alor Star accommodation was limited. We were booked to stay in the dormitories of the government's youth and sports complex. But somehow somebody messed up the numbers. My team of two men and two girls were among the stragglers. So when we reached the complex we were told that there was no accommodation for me and my co-driver. Nevertheless there was no accommodation problem for the ladies, so our two girls were taken care of.

Being responsible people the organisers chose not to accommodate themselves at first. To them the welfare of the participants was prior. So I saw them grouped in one corner discussing where they and a few participants were to spend the night.

Suddenly an idea struck me and I looked for the person in charge of the complex. I asked him if he had spare pillows and bedsheets. He answered in the affirmative. Then I asked if he minded if I and my friend were to sleep in the main hall. He answered it's up to us. So I followed him to his store and was given two sets of pillows and bedsheets.

When we passed by the organisers who were still grouped in discussion I told them that we were going to sleep in the main hall. They tried to stop me and said they were still discussing where to spend the night. So I told them to continue their discussions but at the same time to not consider the two of us in their plans. 

When I reached the hall I told my friend that tonight we were going to sleep in the largest bedroom in the world. Since we were so tired we dozed off soon after.

When I woke up before dawn the next morning I was surprised that I and my friend were not alone sleeping in the largest bedroom in the world. The whole bunch of organisers were there, still sleeping. They must had sneaked in when we were sleeping like logs. 

Surely they had ran out of ideas of where to sleep. But at least they imitated me and that was a form of flattery for me.

A few general elections ago one of the candidates standing in the constituency where I voted was a woman. On the eve of the voting day I received a leaflet in my letter box. The leaflet said under the hadith women cannot be leaders. So anybody voting for the woman candidate in the next day's election would committing a sin. It was clear that the leaflet came from a political party who had never fielded women candidates. Nevertheless I voted for the woman candidate, sinful or not and she won. After all she was staying only a few hundred meters from my house

But now the same political party had been fielding women candidates. I wonder if they realise that they too are committing sins as they themselves alleged. At the same time by fielding women candidates they are imitating their rival political party. In other words they are flattering their rivals. After all imitation is the best form of flattery.

A few days ago the same political party had changed their ambitions. All these while they were yearning for an Islamic State. But now they changed their minds like they always did and yearned for a Welfare State instead. Their leader even said that the Welfare Stare is mentioned in the holy Quran. 

In secondary school I was receiving scholarships. We already have the Welfare Ministry and the Welfare Department. Our petrol, diesel and essential goods are subsidised. If those are not parts of a welfare state I don't know what are. 

So by proclaiming that they are going for a welfare state they are imitating the present government. Is not imitation the best form of flattery?

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