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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rosmah and the Ring of Fire

Rosmah and the Ring of Fire

Women who have a penchant for jewelry would probably envy Malaysian First Lady Rosmah Mansor's gargantuan diamond which has ironically turned into a ring of fire, with angry citizens condemning such extravagance while they struggle with their daily lives living in a country of escalating costs and diminishing subsidies..

60-year Rosmah is a controversial figure as far as the people are concerned. Most Malaysians think that she wants to outshine her husband and tries to have the country ruled her way.

People who earned less than RM2,000 a month, which includes office clerks, hairdressers, waitresses and the blue-collar workers, cannot comprehend why a woman would need such a heavy 'stone' to show off her finger.

“Is it heavy,” Salina, a waitress from the Seratok area, wondered aloud as she looks in awe at a picture of the ring that has appeared in numerous scandal sheets across the nation. But whatever its weight, valued at RM24.4million, the diamond could certainly feed several dozen longhouses for a year at least.

Not having many ideas about politics, Salina could not understand why a woman would need to buy such an expensive item when she could buy a whole lot of other gold jewelry with that amount of money.

For her, coming to the city to work and sending RM300 a month back to her aging parents in the longhouse is already big deal, so it is tough for her to grasp how much RM24.4 million means.

The more she explains, the murkier it gets

Jessie Lim, a supplier, felt that Rosmah should not have to deny about the ring's existence anymore. “It’s like the Chinese saying, the more you explain, the murkier it becomes."

To Jessie, Prime Minister Najib Razak's wife is becoming more and more like Imelda Marcos, Grace Mugabe, Laila Trabelsi and the notorious Queen of France, Marie Antoinette who once allegedly asked her subjects to eat cake when there was already no more bread. “It’s like living in a fantasy world and keeping up with the Joneses,” said Jessie.

She opined that women of leisure tended not to have a clear understanding of what life is all about and most of them were unfortunately from the ordinary or even poorer classes when they were young.

“The first thing she should do is to let herself age gracefully, let the wrinkles come naturally and be glad of them, we are all going down that road of old age. She musn't fear that and try to rely on showy jewellery to disguise that she too was fallible.

Sensitive

State assemblywoman Violet Yong said even if she strikes jackpot, she would not get a ring like that. “What’s so beautiful about a stone? And what a waste when the people are so poor and in need of infrastructures, more hospitals, schools, roads,” said Violet.

Although Rosmah has dismissed allegations the ring was hers and warned it was slander, Violet slammed her explanation as inadequate.

“After three weeks of silence when the country went ga-ga over the ring, she talks about wanting to give education to the children. Rosmah should come to Sarawak, to the rural areas and see the children of the interior who do not even get to go to school and are always hungry for food," said Violet.

"Bread and butter issues were more important to these rural folk than even sending their children to school, so stop giving all sorts of explanations.”

But whether the ring is really hers or not, Rosmah could really be more sensitive to everyday Malaysians.

The fact is despite Malaysia's relative prosperity, there is still hard core poverty. People living even in urban towns are faced with flash floods, shortage of medical care, conjested hospital and the like. The amount of money the ring purportedly costs can obviously be used to do much good.

Pushy and the Meek

A retired government servant who studied psychology in her early days said whenever the PM and his wife were attending public functions together, it was so easy even for a layman to read that she was pushy and her husband was the meek one.

“She has a strong character and the PM must be a nice man to allow her to have her ways, almost in everything. Even when he claimed that he has to cut short their recent holidays, he had to thank her publicly for doing so. But why should he? The country is not run by her,” said the retiree.

Jimmy, who runs a small bakery with his wife, said when customers came into his shop and talked about Rosmah’s ring it reminded him of a Johnny Cash song, “Ring of fire”.

According to him, it goes like this,

"Love is a burning thing. And it makes a fiery ring. Bound by wild desire. I fell into a ring of fire. I fell into a burning ring of fire. I went down, down, down and the flames went higher. And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire. The ring of fire I fell into a burning ring of fire. I went down, down, down. And the flames went up higher. And it burns, burns, burns. The ring of fire, the ring of fire.”

Yet, having nothing against Rosmah, Jimmy said he felt only sympathy for her.

“It is a lesson to be learned that when you are the wife of a PM, you should know your place and know how your people are suffering and also learn not to show off.”

Maybe, Rosmah can glean some wisdom from the lyrics of the Johnny Cash song after all, said Jimmy.

- Malaysia Chronicle

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