Friday, January 06, 2006Recent events in the country like the right things gone wrong (usual) made me think (very unusual).
Being right is almost as important as being alive. When you are in the path of an fast moving JKR lorry who beat the light, you take evasive action to remain alive. If you insist on your right of way because you are right, you could be dead right or rightly dead.
Being right and keeping it right is a big deal. Righting wrongs, big and small, real or imagined is also big business. Think erasers (roba in Terengganuspeak), correction fluids, spelling checkers and other stuffs to correct mistakes. I am not sure if I should include Royal Commissions, public relation exercises in damage- control and abortion clinics in "the other stuffs". You tell me.
Even though doing the right things and doing things right are not always compatible (ngam in Cantonese), most people do either or both. How do they know what is right? The world, even the underworld have laws that have to be followed or adhered to. We are governed by many laws, excluding in-laws. First, there is the natural laws such as the Law of Gravity. Then we have group rules or cultural rules and social mores. Next we have religious rules and State laws.
Let us take a simple act of drinking soup. If you drink the soup hot off the stove, natural law dictates that your tongue will be scalded. Depending on how you were brought up, your tongue might start producing words and/or phrases that might offend those within earshot. Natural law will also apply if you try to scoop the soup with a fork.
If you drink the soup (suitably past boiling temperature, of course) direct from the bowl and people around you are the doing the same, you are not breaking any rules. In such groups, making slurping noises and later wiping your mouth with your shirt-sleeve or Good Morning towels is perfectly acceptable. But, out of kongsi houses in establishments where the house rules are based on books such as The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette (or national equivalent) you will be well-advised not to drink your soup without the regulation soup spoon. If the soup is really delicious and you want to scoop out every last drop, there is the right way to do it too. If you do not know how, go read.
The soup you drink should also be consistent with your religious convictions. Bak Ku Teh is ruled out for good Muslims just like beef bouillon is not allowed for good Hindus. At times, taking permitted soup by Muslims will make them run afoul of the law. If you drink sup kambing at a stall between fasting times you might end up in a kereta mayat en route to the nearest Pejabat Ugama.
Outside fasting month, regardless of your religion, you cannot drink soup without paying for it. That is not right. Forget the saying that "The customer is always right". Under the State Law, this can be considered as stealing. It is possible to commit an act which, in a stroke or two will break natural laws, social laws, religious law as well as the Penal Code all at the same time. I will leave it to your imagination to name the acts.
In the next post, I shall tell you about people who challenged the above concept of right and wrong. In the mean time, here is an announcement:
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