Silence is not Acceptance

I would like to tell you a story about my neighbour back in my kampong in Macang Bubok, Penang.

You see, this neighbour of mine has 11 dogs. She ties them up to the fence facing my old bedroom. I grew up listening to the dogs bark all day long.

Sometimes when they were drenched in the rain, I could hear them cough and sneeze, followed by never ending whines.

Stray dog

At times, cats from other neighbours would pay them a surprise visit. The dogs clearly were not fond of the cats and would jump up and down, acting all crazy. My neighbour would then scream at them and whack them up with whatever she could find – sometimes broom sticks, sometimes buckets, but mostly she’d just kick them.

Wounds caused by the whacking would bleed, get infected and pus would ooze out profusely. Upon falling ill, the dogs would be left soaked in their own urine, poop and vomit.

It wasn’t a good sight and the smell – indescribable.

The dogs were never given the attention they deserved. No petting. No play time. And definitely no love.

On many occasions, my mom advised our neighbour to take better care of their dogs, in a friendly manner of course. Mom’s plea often fell on deaf ears.

Over the years, my neighbour kept adding new animals to her pet ‘collection’. There were a few cows, chickens, ducks, turkeys, goats, rabbits and pigeons. Everyone lived within a 1000 sq/m area. They were one ‘happy family’ indeed.

goats, dairy goats, two goats, goat farm, farm

I remember a few times my dad and my brothers made official complaints to the Seberang Prai municipal council. The authorities would come, conduct inspection for five minutes, spend some time chit-chatting over a cup of coffee and leave without taking any action.

For years my family had to endure living next to an ignorant, selfish, unkind person. For years we had to close our ears to the barks and whines, and close our nostrils to the stinking smell coming from the other side of the fence.

Growing up, I got accustomed having a zoo right outside my window. Every now and then I would peek outside and glance pitifully at the animals while secretly wishing they would all vanish into thin air.

However, recently, my family and I gave up making complaints, filing reports and writing letters to the authorities.

Not because we had a change of heart or were condoning our neighbour’s actions. It was simply pointless. A waste of time. No matter what we did, no one was going to take action and our neighbour was never going to have a change of heart.

Similarly, many distasteful things take place around us on a daily basis. Sometimes we make our voices heard. Sometimes we stand up, demanding to be noticed. Sometimes we protest and challenge injustice. And sometimes we sit quietly in despair.

PKFZ. GE 2013. BR1M. GST. 1MDB.

There are a lot of things we, ordinary Malaysians are frustrated about. But the fact that we are not rallying outside the Parliament or lodging complaints doesn’t mean we condone them.

It simply means we are sick of too much inaction.

It is foolish of any politician to take our silence as condoning power abuse, corruption, theft and the mismanagement of our country.

On second thought, foolish is such a harsh word. Bodoh is more appropriate.

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