‘Raja Bomoh’ Datuk Ibrahim Mat Zin performing a ritual to ‘ease’ the process of releasing Kim Jong-nam’s body, at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital mortuary on Monday. On Sunday, a video of him performing a ritual at a beach to protect Malaysia from ‘external threats’ went viral. BERNAMA PIC

The number of lame jokes on social media about our current rather delicate predicament with North Korea is amazing, to say the least.

Is this a national inferiority complex that the only way we can get relief from the current situation is to flood social media with jokes, such as how inadequate we are when compared to North Korea’s military might?

“North Korea has nuclear, we have Line Clear” is one of the most circulated jokes, in reference to the famous nasi kandar stall in Penang, which is closed for hygiene reasons.

We are, of course, the butt of our jokes even when compared unfavourably with a country that is still “at war” and spends a large chunk of its resources on military wares.

The levity exhibited by many of us on social media may also allow us a peek into our national psyche, which is we may be employing self-deprecation as a tool to calm our nerves.

Unfortunately, what this situation shows is that, as a nation, we, too, are unable to display any sense of cohesion, a collective front of sorts, when confronted with external challenges. There is no “we stand behind Wisma Putra” sense or to be united behind our leaders at a time when our sovereignty is being challenged.

Instead, what we have is levity, in manner not only embarrassing, but could also diminish our collective resolve.

Maybe our preoccupation with politicking has made it impossible for many of us to see the unfortunate assassination of a foreigner in any other way, but through the lens of domestic politics.

It, of course, did not help that some people decided to plant bamboo cannons on our beaches and point them in the direction of Pyongyang to “thwart” North Korea’s nuclear friskiness. Honestly, this is extremely funny if only it was not done by Malaysians, hence, making us the punchline for late night talk show hosts.

I have several Malay Muslim friends who are rather pissed off with these shamans for they say the latter’s action had allowed many to take the mickey out of their race and religion.

True, but my answer to that is that there are a lot of silly people out there, and they exist in all races, cultures and religions. We cannot be responsible for them nor do they speak on our behalf.

Regardless, I wish they could be North Koreans, then I could have a good laugh without someone sticking it into my sides.

The murder of the half-brother of the North Korean leader is, of course, a matter of international interest as people see it not only as an assassination, but also its implications, if any, on global geopolitics. There are too many theories, conspiracies or otherwise, talking of regime change in North Korea and the like.

If, indeed, the murder was by North Korean agents, as speculated by the media, much to the chagrin of North Korean officials, then they must like Malaysia much.

Last year, it was reported that Kuala Lumpur was the unofficial site for peace talks between representatives of Pyongyang and Washington, and, in 2002, the city was in the international media spotlight when it hosted the first talks in decades between the two Koreas.

In our quest to be funny, and in our rush to be the first to share rather meaningless content, we forget there are nine Malaysians held against their will by Pyongyang, and that there are family members worried for their welfare.

Do they think all the jokes are funny?

It is just like when some of us rush to share images of accident victims on chat groups, oblivious to the feelings of family members and friends of the deceased.

Zainul Arifin, a former NSTP group managing editor, is now a social
media observer

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