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With friends like these…

Fri 2011-Jun-17 @ +08 19:35:29 pm

A few minutes after a phone call to an old colleague, and an appointment made for later in the evening, the phone rings: another old colleague is calling, from a competing media house. Midway through the pleasantries, there is a click and the voice fades into a hollow background, like on a speakerphone.

The voice is cheerful but now faint. She is puzzled by yesterday’s posting Snoops, spooks, sneaks and snakes, she says then quickly switches to voicing concern, then to a rapid series of questions, pushing for reaction, seeking information, probing, her tongue a goad. She’s playing to an unseen gallery, there are hidden listeners.

“I know, I know,” she says several times interrupting a familiar litany of woes. But she doesn’t offer information. A vague offer of help is made, but she does not to say what help is even possible. It is merely a challenge, following a prepared plan, for another’s profit. Midway through, I recall that this is a repeat of a previous conversation, the offer of help made merely for the sake of being heard to offer help, said for the sake of being said, spoken forvbeing heard by the unseen gallery. Someone would have been taking notes.

I ring off and prepare to make my appointment but am left without transport. “He just went off a few minutes ago,” the woman says of her son. He had moved quickly, just a few moments, trapping the old man indoors. He had done so before, on cue, and will not return till late. It is deliberate.

Next door a police plant is waiting, making clattering noises. Outside, in the surrounding lanes, are others planted for the occasion, sounding off with rude, crude phrases in dialect. Incomprehensible, but deliberate. The woman presents a new set of challenges. She had been on the phone a few minutes ago. She seeks to provoke anger, and succeeds. It is deliberate, and made to order.

On Facebook, there is a string of snickering, mocking, messages from journalists and associates. They’re in on it, too, and make no bones about it. It must have been fun. A charitable view would be that they had not a choice in the matter. But charitable equanimity is valueless against a vicious pack of hounds out for blood. They’ve drawn some and they show it.

“Wait for June,” Rocky had tweeted one day a few weeks earlier, the message flickering and disappearing in the stream. “Great,” another had posted overnight, no doubt pleased with an outcome of events apparent only to them out in the cloud.

By now, the “friend” who phoned would be exchanging notes with collaborators, the snickering, mocking, glee all too apparent even two hundred miles away. The sidekick in London would have been informed. Much chortling would have ensued, just a few days after the Singaporean had appeared, to harass and hound. They had acted in concert before. It must be a familiar routine by now.

At the noon Friday prayers, the loudspeakers a quarter mile away had been turned up again. “Dia pegawai kerajaan” had rung out in the midst of the usual babble.

Kerajaan? Pigs doing pigs’ bidding. And profiting from it probably, unmindful of consequence, seeking to harm while seeming to help, thinly-veiled contempt all too apparent beneath the oleaginous compliments piled up freely and frequently.

There’ll be even more mocking laughter when they’ve read this, at the media houses, at Vauxhall, or Bt Aman, or Mindef, or 2 Div, or Kent Ridge, or wherever the pigs gather.

That’s friendship today in the so-called media fraternity.

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One Comment
  1. azmin adnan permalink
    Thu 2011-Jun-23 @ +08 08:24:58 am 08:24

    I read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm some time back. George Orwell had the inner eye. He could look into the future, over 60 years from when he wrote them (the two books), and very aptly described our beloved country. Only, our beloved country at this point in time, is much, much worse than any Orwellian dystopia.

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