Tuesday, 26 November 2013 10:00
Syed Nadzri Syed Harun
In Malaysia , the term is not “selfie” or “twerk” which should be Word Of The Year but, by far, the overused, extremely popular and pooped out “polls”.
“Polls” or “polling” may not be a new word but its place in the minds of the people in this country has been truly magical the past one year or so as elections of all kinds continue to dominate our lives everyday.
Even among the Internet generation here “selfie” and “twerk” which have just been picked as Words Of The Year by Oxford dictionaries do not have the same impact “polls” has had or is having. “Selfie” means using your handphone to take a picture of yourself while “twerk” is a gyrating, sexuallystimulating movement common in today’s dances.
I do not like its meaning but the sound of “twerk” which somehow gives out negative vibes is something else. Just by the way it sounds, I could very well use it freely on my enemies as much as they would use it on me. “You twerk!” But look at “polls”.
Various speculations about when the general election was going to be held started more than two years ago and it reached frenzied pitch from the start of this year. By the time the date was finally announced eight months ago, the whole country went into a delirium with the 13th General Election (GE13) which turned out to be a close affair.
The significance of the word did not end there of course because this year alone, Malaysians were fed with all kinds of things to do with polls and elections apart from GE13 — the elections in Umno, Gerakan, PAS, MIC, together with the controversy-filled DAP polls as well as the Kuala Besut and Sungai Besar by-elections.
And look at what’s coming in MCA and PKR? In fact, most of the elections mentioned above have been riddled with disputes and controversies that they remain the talking point for a great number of days this year.
The word “polls” itself seems to be bewitching in the Malaysian context as it has spawned many other words and phrases that have captured our imagination.
One is “indelible”, a word seldom heard before it was announced last year that indelible ink would be introduced in the country’s election process. It required voters to dip a finger in the ink as proof of having cast the ballot papers.
However, this method itself came in for a lot of dispute and this undoubtedly brought forth other words as spoof — illegible ink, incredible ink and edible ink among them.
This year’s GE initially also raised a new power in the political sphere using the word and concept of the “Third Force” which held a lot of promise but faded away miserably after GE13.
There are several other words which could come close to being classified as Word Of The Year.
“Transformation” another abused term is one, the politically- correct buzzword that got everyone uptight without knowing what it is supposed to mean.
Then there is “GST”, the Goods and Services Tax proposition that sparked the country into adrenalin drive. Like polls, “GST” has been in the air for many months now and, even before its real implementation in 2015, it is a matter of time before we feel its real impact.
There are three other words that came close to being the runner-up Word Of The Year in Malaysia.
One is “viral” — in the YouTube sense. This has caused so much of a claptrap lately that every little thing posted on YouTube or Faceboook is said to have gone viral.
I think it is a gross abuse of the term. It gives new meaning to the word which, as we knew it, is previously confined only to the medical or clinical aspects of things or sickness going “viral”.
The other word that has attracted so much attention to be in line for Word Of The Year in Malaysia is of course “racist”. Ironically, the less said about this term is better but it has to be pointed out that it is used as a launchpad for attacks from all corners.
Finally, the word or phrase that comes close to pushing polls off the pedestal is “bolos dan lolos”. The Malay expression points to a state of exposed and susceptible defence line.
It speaks volumes about firstly, the number of firearms and other contrabands that made their ways past our border guards. And secondly, the Malaysian football team which consistently crumbles under attack.
Syed Nadzri is editor-in-chief of The Malay Mail. He can be reached at syednadzri@ redberry.com.my