Penang Chief Minister (among his many titles) Lim Guan Eng has discovered his inner comedian by making a joke about axing school funding in Umno-supporting areas. Sadly, he has so far failed to get a laugh.
Guan Eng said this week that his state government might cut funding to schools that subscribe to Umno-controlled newspapers Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian. When he was later asked to clarify his threat, he told journalists it was just a joke.
He has since been criticised by Penang Barisan Nasional for his pathetic quip. Worse, there has been surprise in some quarters that the DAP Secretary-General is capable of emitting humour – those who have seen him at a ceramah didn’t think he had it in him.
The Choice, on the other hand, has never doubted the fact that Guan Eng is, deep down, a comic genius. In recent days his dead-pan humour has been on show for all to see. If only his audience could keep up with him!
For example, over the weekend he kept a straight face while claiming that our education system is in steep decline. His evidence for this claim is the fact that for the past two years no Malaysian has won a scholarship to America’s Harvard University.
On the surface, using something as anecdotal as a scholarship at a single university in the United States as a statistical basis for falling school standards looks disingenuous at best (and bizarre at worst), but this is clearly an example of his feverish comic mind at work.
(When Malaysian students have won scholarships to Harvard it has been one or two per year.)
He could also have been pulling our leg with his proposal for Malaysia’s economic salvation under a Pakatan government. All we have to do, says Guan Eng with his tongue firmly in his cheek, is to make the whole of Malaysia just like Penang. Simple.
Please feel free to laugh when you are ready – or perhaps cry – if you dread the idea of living under Guan Eng’s national regime.
No one was laughing when Guan Eng’s Penang administration was accused of selling off land allocated as a mosque. He did, however, lighten the mood by calling Umno Penang racist over the ensuing furore.
It isn’t just Guan Eng who enjoys high comedy. Last year Indians were the butt of DAP jokes when Penang DAP State Assemblyman A Thanasekaran asked on Twitter, “If you see a snake & an Indian man, who do you hit first?”
The punch line to that joke could be delivered by DAP’s former Indian voters at the ballot box at GE13.
And who wouldn’t want to live in a country where the Government is so dysfunctional that deputy chief ministers and party heads cannot even speak on the telephone?
Seriously though, Guan Eng should know that most parents in Malaysia consider their children’s education to be no laughing matter. They will be expecting him to ditch the jokes and focus on the serious issues as we near GE13.