My condolences and regret to the family of Naim Mustaqim and the Royal Military College (RMC).
There’s talk of ragging in the air. It’s everywhere I go. Parties. Work. In the supermarket. None of them says ragging is good. Some has even gone to the extent of demonizing the act and called for a strict monitoring system.
I’ve given the matter a great deal of thought all week, and I’m afraid I’ve decided that ragging (the one that I experienced back in the mid 90s), is not actually all that bad. It was never really violent at all. The thought that it would turn out violent was definitely lingering in the back of my head terrorizing my swoony heart. But surprisingly, it was not violent a bit. Abusive words and gestures were being thrown often, coupled with insinuations of a possible physical assault. Karate Kid certainly made me realize, that what I went though in school was more of a sissy experience.
Many of our my generation and especially the generations before me were products of ragging. Did we end up becoming murderers or Satan worshippers? In fact it is believed – by me – that anyone who have survived the ordeal would rather see ragging as a rewarding experience.
Not too long ago, one man got on a plane in a pair of exploding shoes and as a result everyone else in the entire world is now forced to strip naked at airports and hand over their toothpaste to the authorities. In other words, the behavior of one man has skewed the concept of everyday life for everyone else. And we are seeing this all the time.
We have calls to ban the entrance of sexually provocative pop artiste from Hollywood and put FHM magazine on the top shelf. Will this prevent teenage boys from seeing girls’ cleavages? Well, whoever thinks it will has plainly never heard of the internet.
We see the same sort of overreaction to Muslims.If I decide to take a picture of Pentagon I will, in seconds, be hurled to the ground by a dozen anti-terrorist officers and possibly shot six times in the back of my head — just because one person in Serdang once made a speech about the infidels at a mosque during a Friday prayer which i attended.
We seem to have lost sight of the fact that throughout history 90% of people have behaved quite normally 90% of the time. Saiful Amin (father, lecturer, rugby player, boxer, debater), for instance, was a former student of an all-boys boarding school and at no point was he beaten to the state of vegetation. The worst thing he was ever forced to do was to eat breadcrumbs from the bird table.
Of course, at the extremes, you have 5% who are goodie-goodies and who aspires to take part at “Imam Muda”, and 5% who are actually spawned from the balls of a dragon, build exploding shoes and starve their pets to death.
It’s this oddball 5% that is targeted by the tidal wave of emotionally-driven legislation. But making legislation stricter will not stop kids being mistreated. It just changes the pattern of everyday life for everyone else innocent who non-violently teaches good and worthwhile values using a mean they call ragging. This is what drives me mad.
We now think it’s normal behaviour to take off our clothes at an airport. But it isn’t. Nor is it normal to stand outside in the rain to have a cigarette or to do 80kmph on a triple lane highway when it’s the middle of the night and everyone else is in bed. Nor living in a residential college with anti-social behaviors that leads to anyone not knowing anyone except the roommate or the chap thats sells you ganja. It’s stupid.
And yesterday the stupidity made yet another lunge into the fabric of society with a blogger calling for the government to consider new laws that would not just heavily prosecute the person who was ragging (violently), but also everyone else for ignoring and allowing such offense to take place within their institution.
No, really. Because one kid once ragged a child to death, some hopeless little twerp from the ministry had to think of something sincere to say on the steps of the coroner’s court. Inevitably, they will have argued that the current law is “not fit for purpose”, whatever that means, and that “steps must be taken to ensure this never happens again”.
The steps being considered mean that every college principal in the land will have to implant their students with a RFID microchip so that its whereabouts can be determined from human-spotting spy-in-the-sky drones, and that before being allowed to orientate new students, senior students will have to sit for a mental exam and a test similar to the driving theory test. The cost would reach RM600, and on top of all this, colleges will need compulsory third-party insurance which includes a life insurance in case the senior students ends up eating the new ones.
So to ensure that someone in the north called Pak Tam doesn’t shove his spoon into the bottom of a new student to make him less anti-social, he will now have to be implanted with a chip and answer a lot of damn fool questions about what would be the less violent and preffered means of orienting / ragging: (a) shoving a spoon up someone’s bottom or (b) forcing someone to eat breadcrumbs from the bird table. In other words, the normality of college administration will be skewed and expensive. Instead of spending your free time with your students, marching or tickling them under the armpits, you will be forced to provide tea and pie for someone from the ministry of education while he inspects your student’s wands for evidence whether or not it has been up the bottom of Mr. Potter.
This will achieve nothing good. It will ruin the enjoyment of university life and boarding schools, it will result in students not knowing who their neighboring roommates are, as people realize that they can lead an invisible, individualistic, don’t give a damn kind of life, and yet it will also make no difference to men in the north called Pak Tam, who will continue to fashion his own spoons and wands with tattoos of gothic symbols of hate and pain.
What good did all the airport legislation achieve? None. It simply means that you and I now must get to the airport a year before the plane is due to leave and arrive at the other end with yellow teeth and smelly armpits. Did it prevent a man from getting on board with an exploding pair of bra? No, it did not.
Stop becoming all melodramatic. We must start to accept that 5% of the population at any given time is bonkers. Understand that there are still good values that can be churned out from ragging and re-educate people so that they will not use violence within their orienting or ragging week.