In our Selected Exhortations category, we republish interesting stuff such as must-read articles and essays not originally written exclusively for the blawg, and which have come to our attention. Please feel free to email [email protected] if you would like to reproduce your writing, but first follow our Writer’s Guide here. Today, we reproduce the first post of a new satirical series on how a billionaire secretly funds and forms the next Selangor administration.
“What kind of country are we living in?” Munusamy spat in frustration.
His fellow directors seated around the conference table simply shrugged silently, knowing that the boss would soon come up with his own answer to this rhetorical question. Munusamy always had, even to the most challenging conundrum – which is why he headed one of the most successful production houses in the country, with five blockbuster movies that had so far grossed over US$3 billion globally.
Therein lay the nub of the issue – the firm’s latest script had been rejected by the Malaysian Censorship Board, even though it had been written by the Entertainment Minister’s award-winning son and was well within the ruling government’s policy stand against the now-defunct Malayan Communist movement.
“What do they mean that we’re glorifying the communists? This script potrays them as sex-starved radicals who fail in their attempt to pillage a village of all their women, young and old, and are wiped out by the combined armed forces in a spectacular fight with explosions all over!”
“I really don’t understand why. It’s a fantastic script that any movie lover would enjoy and chances are that we could have another blockbuster on our hands. Imagine how much money we stand to make for ourselves and also the country! Imagine the tourism potential from the curious who want to visit this village.”
“Did the censors even bother to read the script before rejecting it? Or did they simply say no because it was written by their minister’s son?”
The fiery red of his eyes seemed to flare even brighter. “Could it be that they’ve also been sucked into this never-ending torrent of politicising any and every issue possible, to be seen as not condoning any cronyism and nepotism, instead of just focusing on the script’s merits alone?”
At this juncture, Munusamy seemed ready to tear apart the conference table with his bare hands. But, seeing the bemused expressions of his fellow directors, he visibly reined in his temper and lowered his flailing hands to his side.
Then, in a steely voice that none of them had ever heard before, Munusamy continued. “This time, I’m no longer amused or tickled by this nonsense. If everything is going to be dragged into politics, then maybe it’s time we raised the ante.”
Wary of this new Munusamy before them, the directors looked worriedly at each other.
“If the only way we’re going to get this script produced is by dragging it into politics too, maybe it’s time we did it.”
Eyebrows raised, Rizal, the deputy chairman, asked: “Why are you taking us on that first step down the slippery slope? Don’t we have enough problems as it is with our own businesses?”
Seeing the other directors nodding in agreement with Rizal’s concern, Munusamy responded: “Why not? What’s stopping us from starting our own political party and running the country the way we want it to be? If Arnold Schwarzenegger can get elected Californian governor and Ronald Reagan could go all the way to become US President, what’s stopping us here?”
Eyes rolled and all the company directors sighed. There was no stopping Munusamy once he got into this mood. Like a stubborn terrier, he was going to do exactly what he’d suggested – never mind what anyone else thought or advised.
“If there’s anyone here with doubts that we can pull it off, maybe it’s time to speak up now. We can’t afford any naysayers once we go down this path,” Munusamy said evenly.
Immediately, three hands shot up.
Raymond, the chief operating officer, was the first to explain why he did so. “If you’re going to be busy with the politicking, you’ll need somebody to continue running this company so that you’ll have the funds needed and also to make sure you have a place to return to if you fail.”
“Thank you Ray, I’m glad you’re staying out of this venture and I appreciate your sacrifice. But, take note that I’ll be announcing this plan to everyone in the company and chances are that you might end up with a skeleton crew.”
“You can’t be serious!” groaned Rizal, who had also raised his hand. “I thought we’d yet to decide on this crazy idea of yours.”
“Of course I’m serious,” replied Munusamy. “What’s your reason for wanting to stay out?”
“At 62, I’m too old to be traipsing around villages, listening to all kinds of petty complaints and pretending to smile while my joints ache something fierce. Since I won’t be able to stop you from going ahead with this stupid plan, I’ll play your devil’s advocate and point out where and when you step out of line.”
“That sounds fair. And Charlene, why’s your hand up?”
Charlene, the production director, pointed at Ramond. “He’s explained why. Who’s going to produce your campaign materials to make sure you win? If you going up against the big boys, you’ll need some very clever people who can focus on giving you the necessary support services.”
Munusamy smiled. “I’m glad no one has actually said this is a very bad idea, apart from Rizal. But, I’m not going to head this plan.”
Everyone was surprised and Rizal finally took the bait. “So, who’s going to be your puppet?”
“This person is no puppet, though I believe our sound advice will be well received. It’s like choosing a director for any movie we choose to make, and this is going to be our biggest production yet.”
The silence was so complete as everyone waited for Munusamy to name the individual he had in mind. And when he finally did, she actually smiled – to everyone else’s surprise.
Rizal was the first to speak, turning to accuse his long-time partner. “Munusamy, have you been discussing this with my daughter all this while and kept us in the dark?”
Munusamy just spread his hands and let Jamilah speak for herself. Which she didn’t, though her grin grew broader.
“Come on now, will either one of you please explain just what’s going on?” asked Rizal.
In response, Jamilah just took out a stack of bound paper from her favourite leather sachel and slid it across the conference table to her father. “This is a script for a possible new movie which the boss gave me last night to look though. He asked if I wanted to be the director.”
Warily, Rizal flipped open the bound booklet and glanced at the summary pages. He then slid the book over to Raymond and asked him: “Were you aware of this new script?”
Raymond shook his head. “As you well know, we get scripts all the time. What’s so special about this script?”
“Just read the summary page,” Rizal instructed.
“Written by K Munusamy…” Raymond’s voice trailed off. “Judging by the track record alone, this could be another blockbuster on our hands.”
“Stop the nonsense, Raymond. We’re talking about being dragged into the mudpit here and not some celluloid fantasy. And besides, are you really sure you want to be a part of this, Jamilah? You’re our financial controller now and the last movie you directed was five years ago. And let me remind you this is no movie!”
“What are you really annoyed about Rizal? Are you really that sure we’re going to fail with this project even before you’ve read the full proposal, even if it has been written as a draft movie script?” Munusamy asked.
Rizal visibly bit back on his words before finally responding. “I know it’s your money to do with as you please. But, there are a lot more at stake here. A movie can be lousy and everything can still be okay. Can we afford to have a whole country fail and be turned into a mockery?”
“Let me answer your last question first,” said Munusamy. “The country’s already been turned into a mockery by our politicians. And besides, we’re only aiming to go for one state – Selangor – and not the whole country.”
Rizal narrowed his eyes. “Why take on such a strange tactic? Are your serious about this project or not?”
“It’s a smarter way to get what we really want as both the average and corporate citizens of our beloved Malaysia. By showing everyone what can be achieved in one state, the other state governments and also the federal agencies will have no choice but to follow our examples. I’d like to call this guerilla politics.”