COMMENT | A curious case of Dr M Jekyll and Mr M Hyde

COMMENT | Make no mistake, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s recent remarks are not just the rantings and ravings of an old man. They are a well calculated attack on our wounded body politic. And this attack bears all the hallmarks of a perpetrator’s split personality.

And for a quick insight into split personalities, there is no better story than Robert L Stevenson’s classic, ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’. It can be seen as an unintentional allegory on the horror and drama of Malaysian politics.

In the story, Dr Jekyll uses a self-concocted serum to transform himself into another person, a Mr Hyde. Even his closest friends cannot recognize Mr Hyde as the transformed Dr Jekyll – the perfect disguise that fools everyone all the time.

And the moral code of that ‘other’: Mr Hyde is at polar ends with Dr Jekyll. The reason: Dr Jekyll wants to indulge in the vices of Victorian London undetected but wants to be seen by society as a good and caring doctor.

Replace ‘Malay politics’ with a self-concocted serum and we’re on our way. Substitute Victorian London for Kuala Lumpur and we’re even closer to home. Change Dr Jekyll to Dr M Jekyll and Mr Hyde to Mr M Hyde and we are truly home.

Thus, Mr M Hyde becomes a sociopath – evil, self-indulgent, utterly indifferent to anyone but himself. In such a state only three things are important to him – Me, Me, and Myself. Only his own views, concerns, and feelings matter!

In Stevenson’s story, Mr Hyde becomes increasingly violent. He trampled a girl and later brutally beat an MP to death with a heavy cane. Even more frightening, he was consumed by these violent urges that he could no longer control.

And each time, Mr Hyde gets away with his crime by drinking a home-brewed potion to become the good Dr Jekyll again. This potion also helps him keep his secret tight. Society continues to view him as a doctor with a cure.

Let’s go back to our Mr M Hyde who has completely taken control of Dr M Jekyll. The monster now calls all the shots. Mr M Hyde’s exaggerations are endless. He steals the future from the poor and attacks the rich for not funding his excesses.

Seeing that his dangerous and deadly plan is about to end, Dr M Jekyll tries to patch things up with Mr M Hyde. But Mr M Hyde reminds Dr M Jekyll thus: “Remember, you are as much a part of me as I am a part of you.”

Split personality disorder

Dr M Jekyll is now left with few options. The creator of Mr M Hyde, for many years the cover for Dr M Jekyll, knows that to expose the former is to expose himself. What should be done? His split personality disorder is over. It’s over! Done!

Worse, the potion he freely used to reverse the changes seen in Mr M Hyde and fooled the masses for decades into thinking he was the good Dr M Jekyll at all times no longer worked. Mr M Hyde has nowhere left to hide!

And Mr M Hyde, who by now does not care much for Dr M Jekyll, cannot shake off the latter’s old qualities – lust for money, power, and a cherished legacy as a hero. Also, our Mr M Hyde has a high family unlike the original Mr Hyde who is not related.

Months turn into years. Inhabiting one body, their minds at odds, the solution to his dilemma finally dawns on Dr M Jekyll. But is he man enough to overcome his pride and tell all Malaysians the truth as a parting gift for future generations and history?

In the original story, they find Dr Jekyll, his body so twisted, dead on the floor of his lab, still wearing Mr Hyde’s clothes, an apparent suicide. A letter, more than a confession really, binds loose possibilities and ends.

We wait with bated breath for the next episode of ‘The Real Malay Dilemma’.

MURALE PILLAI is a former planter and now runs a logistics firm.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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