What a “one-derful” world…

Teresa Kok is no stranger to controversy. In her four terms as Member of Parliament, she has received death threats, her choice of attire has been discussed in Parliament, she has sued the government. Now, she is about to be charged for sedition.

In September 2008, she was detained for a week under the since-repealed Internal Security Act after false reports surfaced that she had advised a mosque in Puchong not to use loudspeakers during the azan (muslim prayer call). She was released after it was discovered that the mosque had a faulty loudspeaker system.

Soon after her release, molotov cocktails were thrown into the compound of her family home.

In February 2014, at the height of the Onederful Malaysia controversy, a dead chicken was found together with red paint splashed on the walls of her service center. Later, conservative Muslim groups offered a monetary reward to anyone who would slap her.

The Onederful Malaysia CNY 2014 Video Clip was uploaded on Jan 27 as one of Kok’s yearly chinese new year greetings to her voters. Despite being billed as a satire, the video’s take on current issues ruffled feathers with some accusing it of insulting the Prime Minister, ridiculing Malays, and lampooning national security. Over 300 police reports were filed by people who felt insulted by the clip, mostly by right wing groups. MCA also called on Teresa to apologise for her video.

What exactly was so offensive about the video that has offended people’s sensibilities? The youtube video has garnered 676,039 views so far, more than her previous years’ greeting video and even more than videos of her election campaign.

The 11.39-minute video features Teresa acting as a TV show host interviewing three feng shui experts on a variety of topics. As in a real life feng shui show, the masters give advice on topics trivial and interesting, such as travel.

A bespectacled man in a yellow costume, calling himself  Uncle Wai, says that those who travel must “bow to the pirates of the south and the north (highway)”.

Master Yan Yan, a tourism feng shui expert, urges the audience to visit Jonker Street in Malacca, “be quick as it will be gone soon”. She adds that tourists can also visit Sabah, “where you get to see pirates with a bonus show of kidnapping and scenes of open fire”, the guests laugh as they fire pretend rifles in unison. She points out another tourist attraction, the “robber” mural painting in Johor, before being chided by Uncle Wai that the mural has been removed.

Referring to a question on how to ensure one’s safety, Uncle Wai tells the audience not to dress too “Bersih” when out of the house, the colour yellow is to be avoided as it could “lead you to be brought to court”.

There are many other jokes in the video which may not readily be understood by non-cantonese speakers, and would sound odd at best and crude at worse to others. In the spirit in which the satire is written, a light-hearted attempt to poke fun at our daily Malaysian life should not lead to a sedition charge. Particularly when so many other ludicrous acts (butt dance, bible burning, etc) have gone without action taken.

Some may call the jokes in the video bad taste, but Teresa has always been a colourful character in the nation’s staid political scene. This is the same lady who has posed as a wushu fighter -complete with full uniform and weapons- as a gimmick for her chinese new year greeting cards.

“Kung fu”-style figurines of her in various martial arts poses were also available for members of the public. Some were amused, others less so. But that’s Teresa Kok for you – not one to hide behind the safe and predictable image that politicians here are so often apt to do.

In a nation where so many important conversations are not being had for fear of “upsetting sensibilities”, how much longer do we have to tread on eggshells before we address issues and attempt to solve them? In her capacity as MP and former Selangor State Executive Councillor, Teresa has often taken the bull by the horns -she should be lauded and not punished for doing so.

If the government wishes to punish those who tread on their toes or speak the truth a little too inconveniently, at least let the legal reasoning hold water. It doesn’t take a lawyer to tell you that much like the charges against the late Karpal Singh, this sedition charge against Teresa is clearly trumped up.

After a lengthy investigation which included recording a statement from actors in the clip, the Home Ministry later admitted that the video did not insult the Prime Minister. In fact, Bar Council president Christopher Leong was reported as saying that there is nothing seditious about the video as far as the law and the Sedition Act was concerned.

It would take a much more convincing act for people to believe this is not political persecution, but then again, this is a “one-derful” world where art imitates life. -The Rocket

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