Yellow washes whiter than white. So why are some people turning it into a dirty colour?

Some two decades ago, I was in high school. And in my school, houses were named after past headmistresses who had greatly contributed to it. If you were in the red house, for example, you were Shirtliffe. If you were in the yellow one, you’d be Cooke. There were also Maclay for blue, Prouse for purple and Green for, well, you know.

Being competitive when it came to sport, each house would have a specially prepared jeer or taunt reserved for the rest. For instance, detractors of Shirtliffe — the house I was undemocratically shoved into — would chant this at members of that house:

“Red, red, botak head.”

And if you were a Cookie, you’d get this gem instead:

“Yellow, yellow, dirty fellow.”

I can’t speak for the rest of the students but I actually wanted to be in Cooke house because the jeer was so… nothing. I mean, if this was all about sport, what was so nasty about being dirty? In fact, if you were dirty, you were probably good at sport.

Cooke House cheerleaders, back in the day. | Source: Wikipedia

Yellow is a great colour. It’s bright. It’s happy. It’s classic and tasty. Pacman is yellow. The smiley icon is yellow. For crying out loud, nasi kunyit is yellow. At my wedding, I had sunflowers everywhere and everybody knows they’re yellow. My invites were a mustard shade. Actually, so was my son when he was born. Nothing some ultraviolet light didn’t fix, of course, but he didn’t look too bad, jaundiced.

When Coldplay first burst into the music scene with “Yellow”, I had it playing on loop for almost two weeks. In fact, I decided to eat only yellow foods for a week after that. You know, durian, egg noodles, yellow peppers and zucchini, egg yolk, bananas. My then-boyfriend was very quiet that same week. Must have been racking his brain for a covert way to halo out of this psycho’s apartment.

But if you think I was bizarre, what do you call all that fanfare surrounding the Bersih rally? How about Cirque De Strange? Because for a movement whose objective is to ask for fair elections, there sure is an excessive amount of artillery directed at it. First, the police was summoned to crackdown on ground activities leading up to the rally. Then the army was suggested. Round about the same time, the ISA was hinted at.

Then it got exponentially stranger even as it got a lot scarier.

Suddenly, Mao Sze Dong was behind the rally with Jesus funding it from abroad. Then the YPDA was under attack with possibly self-detonating pamphlets and t-shirts that fired implosive bullets. Meanwhile, the Goldsteins of the world were dragged into the fracas when the Head of the Organising Committee was labelled an anti-Islamic agent of Jews. Even the Silat body of Malaysia decided that Malaysia needed saving from the Yellow Shirt Brigade and offered to do a silat demonstration on participants of the rally.

To be honest, I had to sit down for a while to figure out how everything linked and why scaremongering tactics were being employed to such a feverish extent. After a quick search on the Internet, I came to this:

“Politicians, more than anyone else, understand this [read: Fear] as a fundamental characteristic of human beings. They cultivate it and exploit it as fully as possible. Whether we speak of a Warfare State, like the United States, or of a Welfare State, as exists in France and Quebec, both types use fear to keep their populations in check. If it is true that modern democracies are dependent on public opinion, it is equally true that public opinion in turn is largely dictated by fear.” [Source]

After a few ohms, however, I arrived at this:

“Fear trips up those with much to lose, and logic becomes collateral damage.”

In other words, even as politicians choose to utilise Fear to control the population, they are themselves victims of Fear itself. And it all comes down to Power. Fear wants to retain Power in the grip of its Master, so Fear over-cranks the Accusation lever to destroy its Master’s nemesis. What is good is heavy-handedly painted out as bad. What is clean, painted black. What is a t-shirt, tagged seditious. “Yellow, yellow, dirty fellow!”

Along the way, every little thing related to the object of Fear would be subjected to an overly fertile imagination. Bringing about hallucinations that could make a hardcore druggie proud.  I for one am personally waiting for an announcement that beyond yellow shoes, buses, cars and t-shirts, grass is banned because anything green has components of blue AND yellow in it.

The thing is, Fear is what needs to be kept in check before it breeds a kind of addictive greed for continuous power. Before it births Fascism.  Before it transforms into an unforgiving Bully and a desperate and blind one at that. Oftentimes in its desperation, Fear can forget to make sense. In its blindness, it can fail to see that the common Man still has its faculties intact, and can reason things out. It ignores the fact that even as it causes its host to lose its marbles, it compels others to pay special attention to bullshit.

If Wisdom still lurks somewhere in the cavities of their heads, leaders will rise above Fear and use this moment of truth to prove their worth. To do this, sacrifices must be made. To accomplish this, admissions must be made and fuzzy logic, abandoned. Take for example, the popular argument in Malaysia that the EC is fair as it is because the Opposition won a few states with the current system in 2008.  This is fuzzy logic in sheep’s skin.  Just because the Opposition had won, it doesn’t mean cheating hadn’t occurred. In fact, victory was achieved despite fraud at play. Wisdom would see that this is true.

Any ruling party that feels, after decades of power, that it’s still the best choice for the people compared to the Opposition, needs to let go.

Yes, let go.

Stepping down defies the Ego but it is cleansing, humbling and ultimately empowering. For years, now, we’ve heard about internal factions plaguing our very own ruling party from the inside. Here’s the deal though: You can spend an obscene amount of money on PR to try and cover up the flaws but the Truth always finds a way to creep out.  It’s the same with products. If you’re a car that doesn’t run well, no amount of advertising dollars is going to prop you up. As more and more people experience you, they’ll conclude for themselves that you’re a dud and duds just don’t live very long in a free market economy. Think of it this way — the Rakyat is there to keep the government honest just as Consumers are there to keep a product or service honest. Wisdom, would appreciate this.

I personally feel that any ruling party that has ruled for a long time and is losing its potency, should allow itself to crumble.  This way, the bad apples can make way for sincere nation-builders to rise to the top, whatever rot there is can be arrested, and the party, healed.

Sacrifice the limelight if only to regroup and give others a chance to make a difference until you’re ready to come back.

Admit to your faults and take that first step towards healing.

Rise out of the pit that has darkened your vision and noble manifesto over time.

Reject the Black of self-deception and return to the light.

That bright, yellow light.

Lisa Ng is a human being. She used to be a copywriter in the advertising industry. But now she just writes. For whatever helps us regain the lost art of "giving a toss" about the things that matter to...

4 replies on ““Yellow, Yellow, Dirty Fellow.””

  1. I've always been a fan of Yellow Ranger since I was a little girl. Us Chinese have yellow skin. My favourite pair of tights have yellow components. Calling for a clean election while in Yellow? Why not? It has always been my favourite colour ;)

  2. Hey Leez. Once again, thanks for being the voice of the less articulate. Precisely my sentiments. I can’t wait to be the dirty fellow next weekend.

  3. why fear yellow- its only a color n not a tiger that will eat you, isnt yellow the color of maybank, DIGIn aslo the royal co;lors

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