Saturday, 7 April 2007

Swordfish At Our Shores

Thailand is in trouble. Its king is apparently so ill he can't even defend his own royal dignity from infantile YouTube pranksters. That sacred duty is left to the junta, who have firewalled the site out of the Kingdom of Smiles until every last offensive clip is removed.

It is a desperate and futile gesture, but don't laugh just yet.

A similar phenomenon is already brewing here.

The perverse penetrative power of the Web has been rattling the nerves of our political masters, to the point where they start rambling incoherently. Just how would camwhores, cat lovers, avid readers and foodie adventurers threaten the fragile social fabric of ours? Putting high school and college students through red tape hell because of their virtual soapboxes? Muzzle the voices of concerned citizens who are now finding new ways to air their heartfelt, genuine grievances?

(OK, there is at least one blog, the One-That-Shouldn't-Be-Named, who is unaware that his holier-than-thou attitude makes him an even bigger jackass than he already is. I'm exercising mercy by not giving him any more publicity; his head might swell and explode, and I'm sure nothing good comes from that.)

Now, soldiers are not required to be intelligent, so we could excuse the Thai military for thinking that theirs is a brilliant idea. The same can't really be said about our government.

Fogeys of my generation remember an old fable about Singapore (or Temasek) and the Storm of Swordfish that swept the island. Bereft of sound ideas, court officials suggested lining the shores with men to stem the scaly tide, which of course, led to even more casualties. Then a boy came up with a more sensible solution: banana trunks. The storm soon passed, and lives were saved.

Alas, there would be no happy ending. The court officials, fearing for their positions, petitioned the king to kill the boy for what was nothing more than a suggestion borne out of common sense. Lots of flowery words were used, like the one from an English exercise book I read, which goes, " is said, that a child should be a pupil, and not a teacher to kings..." - an allusion that a child that is smarter than his elders violates all sense of propriety. Being an idiot himself, the king succumbed to the machinations of his court, and had the boy killed.

(Just when I thought I was the only one, here's another who managed to connect the dots.)

The Internet isn't just one big grapevine; it's also a massive storage vat. Any dirt that finds its way around the Web will be available for all to see, and will remain so for a very long time. When you're a ranking official on the take, it's a real cause for concern. And there seem to be a lot of those popping up lately, since this country got wired.

So, could we be faulted for receiving the vibes we're getting from the current quivering of our politicians' nerves?

Here's another politician who thinks he's got it all figured out. It's not related to the current issue, but I can't help but see some parallels. He obviously hasn't seen the Gen-Y wave yet. They could teach some kings a thing or two.


  1. Bibliobibuli: I was rushing to get this out, so it wasn't really that "nice". Did you have a nice Easter? Hope you did.


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