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‘All of You’

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The Malay Agenda propounded by Umno reminds Tota of a children’s story by Chinua Achebe in his book ‘Things Fall Apart’.

Image: Wikipedia

The Umnoputra hijacked the NEP and under the guise of helping the Malays have shamelessly enriched themselves, thus creating the greatest income differential in Malay society compared to perhaps all communities in Asia.

The Malay Agenda propounded by Umno reminds me of a children’s story by Chinua Achebe in his book “Things Fall Apart”.

(For a better understanding of the situation in the Malaysian context, substitute the characters etc as indicated below:

  • People of the sky – People of Malaysia
  • Tortoise – Umnoputra
  • Birds – Malay society
  • Feathers – Malay ballots
  • Tortoise shell – Umno
  • Crumbs – What the Malay rakyat is getting
  • Medicine-man – bomoh

The story goes like this…

The inhabitants of the sky invited all the birds to a banquet. As the excited birds were discussing the trip, Tortoise approached them and requested them to take him along.

The birds had always considered Tortoise untrustworthy, dishonest and full of trickery.

However, Tortoise convinced them that he was a changed creature and promised not to cause trouble.

Since Tortoise had no wings, each bird gave him a feather with which Tortoise made two colourful wings.

As they were flying, Tortoise told the birds that it was the custom of the inhabitants in the sky that their guests each take a new name.

The birds had never before heard of this but because they considered Tortoise a widely travelled creature, they believed him. Each bird took a new name and Tortoise called himself “All of You”.

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When they reached their destination, the hosts welcomed them. Because Tortoise was the most colourful, the hosts assumed he was the leader of the birds.

When the hosts invited the guests to partake of the banquet, Tortoise jumped up and asked, “For whom have you prepared this banquet?”

The reply was, “For All of You”.

Tortoise turned to the birds and told them that the banquet was prepared for him. Then he proceeded to gobble up everything on the table.

The hosts thought that it was the custom among the birds to allow the leader to eat first.

The birds were furious and many of them refused to eat while the hungry ones pecked at the crumbs on the floor.

When it was time to depart, the angry birds each took back the feather they had given to Tortoise.

Stranded, the bloated Tortoise begged the birds to convey a message to Mrs Tortoise on earth.

All the birds refused.

However, Parrot, with revenge on his mind, agreed.

The message was for Mrs Tortoise to cover the garden with all the soft things like mattresses pillows and cushions so that when Tortoise plunged from the sky, he would have a soft landing.

But Parrot told Mrs Tortoise to cover the garden with all the hard things like the grinding-stone, axe, hoe and wheelbarrow.

When Tortoise looked down, he saw his wife busy in the garden but could not see the objects. He plummeted and crashed into the hard objects. His shell was shattered.

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Mrs Tortoise took him to the village medicine-man who glued the broken pieces together. That is why tortoise shell is fragmented, uneven, unequal and very rough.

Tota is the pseudonym of a regular contributor to Aliran

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