Wednesday, February 27, 2008

If BN is Eli Sunday, Then The Public is Daniel Plainview

This afternoon, I passed off my free time to watch There Will Be Blood, a brand new film which star Daniel Day-Lewis won his acting honors at the recently concluded 80th Academy Awards. Spanning three decades from the moment prospector Daniel Plainview discovers oil, it shows how ruthless and how he cuts his path, beating his competition in his quest to achieve his monopoly of oil over California.

Of course the story was largely inspired by how famous oil magnate Edward Doheny (1856-1935) achieved fame as one of the pioneers during the oil boom period. But what is interesting of the film is how Plainview behaves. If that's how Count Dracula behaves in the literary world, then Plainview is behaving exactly like him but in the USA. You can also say that Plainview is an equivalent of Fred Dobbs from The Treasure of Sierra Madre.

Watching Day-Lewis from start to finish, looking at his moustache, sideburns, and his haircut, I have to admit that he bears the resemblance of my second uncle. Exactly, the physical features. The only difference is on characteristics and his height, much taller than my uncle.

I won't go much about the plot but I will go through two more points, one will be discussed later on. While plying his trade in Little Boston, Daniel encounters Eli Sunday, Paul's twin, younger brother (Paul Dano) who is obsessed in building his ministry, the Third Revelation church. Plainview wants no part of the church business, here, just plying his trade and paying the royalties to the original owners, helping the town to prosper but was pushed into Eli's agenda on few occasions such as wishing to bless his derrick, forcing him to make a confession against his will in order to buy old man Bandy's lot for the pipeline project and even asking him money to build his church. All sorts of those things wanted by Eli is considered by Daniel as a contempt to his reputation and image, and so this is what he feels when he faced other people who is attempting to compete with him, especially Tilford for the pipeline project.

We Spill Blood For Oil : Lessons That Can Be Learned

Let's break for a now. Some of the moments that is seen in the film can be used and applied to our current society and economical scenario that is Malaysia. I'm looking the interesting parallels of the film from the eyes of Plainview as to citizens in the Malaysian society.

"Out of all men that beg for a chance to drill your lots, maybe one in twenty will be oilmen; the rest will be speculators-men trying to get between you and the oilmen-to get some of the money that ought by rights come to you. Even if you find one that has money, and means to drill, he'll maybe known nothing about drilling and he'll have to hire out the job on contract, and then you're depending on a contractor that's trying to rush the job through so he can get another contract just as quick as he can. This is the way this works."

The intermediaries are arguably the ones that adds the cost of oil to your bill. Anwar Ibrahim lately said that the net profit of Petronas for the last two years was close to $80 billion per year. The profits were never shared out to the public in say helping to reduce the government subsidies. All in all, the profit was just split up among the elite rich and filthy in Malaysia, UMNO cronies and those are preferred by the corrupt miisters against what the people deserve. Malaysia is still a net exporter, yes, and it is realistic to reduce the oil price. Say if the price is dropped back to the price pre-2006, which is $1.62 per liter, how much will you save? If your petrol tank is 50 liters, you can save at least $15 that can be used for something else useful. What about food? Food prices will drop back by 20% because oil is needed for cooking!

The above quote is also a reference and association of the nepotism and cronies that are in Malaysia. I tell you one example. YM Raja Petra once mentioned that Federal Territories Minister Zulhasnan Rafique is called the $700 million man. One of his cronies is the BSN CEO and Bukit Bintang UMNO Chief Azim Zabidi. The article about Azim and the substantial proof has clearly implied that Azim was guilty and to hide his guilt / shame, he filed a lawsuit against RPK.
Plainview: You see him? You don't tell me how to raise my family. I told you not to tell me how to raise my family. So, what do you see?
H.M. Tilford: I'm happy for you that everything...
Plainview: I've made a deal with Union and my son is happy and safe and I'm taking care of him now. So you look like a fool, Tilford, don't you?
H.M. Tilford: Yes.
Plainview: I told you what I was gonna do.
This little exchange between Daniel and Tilford mirrors what the current awareness of the urban people with the government. Now, many are aware of the government's mismanagement and poor administrative capabilities given of conspire to rob the citizen's wealth. The government is also attempting to blindside the people with their lies via the mainstream media. They also tell people to shut up and force them to accept their version of facts whereas their dirty secret is out to the public. Sadly, the rural people don't know and still blinded to the falsehood, which means there's going to be a tough time to convince them to understand the truth. Let me illustrate an example: Remember Kerisman said of 'don't argue of Malaysia being a secular state'? Well, time to show the proof and truth and keep fighting till you win!

A Possible Regret?
Eli Sunday: Oh, Daniel, please... I'm in desperate times. I need a friend... I feel the walls closing in. I've sinned! I need help! I'm a sinner! I've let the Devil grab hold of me in ways I never imagined! I'm so full of sin.
Plainview: The Lord sometimes challenges us, doesn't he?
Eli Sunday: Oh yes he does! Yes he does! Oh! He's completely failed to alert me to the recent panic in our economy and this! I must have this! I've invested... my investments have... Oh, Daniel, I won't bore you, but I... If I could grab the Lord's hands for help I would, but he does these things all the time, these mysteries that he presents and while we wait, while we wait... wait for his word...
Plainview: You're not the chosen brother, Eli. It was Paul who was chosen. He found me and he told me about your land. You're a fraud.
If you remember last time during the Asian financial crisis, Dr. Mahathir once said of people having to make tough sacrifices and even ask to contribute to the countries reserve as to prevent a further dampening the country's economy. The next global economy recession is likely to happen next year. Abdullah Badawi boasts that Malaysia can withstand the US recession with adequate reserves. But I don't think he's telling the fact. It could be a lie to hide the possibility that Malaysia is going to torn apart by the economic meltdown. It would not have happen if there is a proper mechanism and management of national finances. Economic corridors won't do good if it's not handled properly. And what if the meltdown occurs? BN government asking the public again for sacrifices again? More burden for the public...that's where really say with conviction that enough is enough. Maybe at that time, people will regret for picking the wrong guy or government regretting for refusing to sit down and hear what people say.

Plainview: I'm gonna bury you underground, Eli!
Well, it's time for the change. Don't give BN 2/3 majority or maybe better, make BN regret for their mistakes and their uncontrolled over corruption. Abdullah Badawi is a weak and feeble old man, his indecision and flip-flop reputation will cost the government terribly. What about Najib? In the last few months, some of the statements made by him are what I think shows a threatening tone. Some statements related to that include of reducing oil prices will make Malaysia bankrupt or said that don't do that or they will be a repeat of 1969, related to Hindraf, but in Kampung Baru, it was not as it seems to be as what people are made to believe. Someone said sometime back that during the early 90s Najib once said of 'threatening to bath with Chinese blood.', which means he's also another problem too.
Eli Sunday: I am a false prophet! God is a superstition! I am a false prophet! God is a superstition! I am a false prophet! God is a superstition!
I'm not trying to say that I insult God on that, the statement above is a metaphor when putting into the Malaysian political context. The BN government is very susceptible to their PR feel good image. I already mentioned this many times already: one slip of word, with proof of course, to the international media of the many mistakes committed by them, that's it. If there is too much international pressure, this could be possible, force the government to go damage control, meaning (indirectly) that they admitted that they are in fault.


In the last act of the movie, Eli and Daniel face off in another showdown. Eli has made a repeated mistake of asking Daniel again for money as he's facing monetary problems due to the start of the Great Depression period. Daniel has been hating Eli for interfering against his own personal affair, quite a long time since they first met and at the height of the face-off, Daniel bludgeoned Eli to death with a bowling pin. Originally, it was scripted to be more violent with bowling pin replaced with a tumbler and throwing Eli into the cellar beyond through the pins.

The audience was made to feel sympathy for Daniel who had worked too hard to gain self-respect and reputation as well as keeping his financial gains to support himself. It is what the oil prospectors faced as well in the early 20th century.

Election fever is hot out there, and at times when I drive in town, I would see BN posters with Mr. Clean's image there. Sometimes, I feel that BN was needing help whereas they had failed in 2004.
You're killing us with what you're doing. You're killing my image of you.
At the start of the third act of the movie, an adult H.W, married to Mary Sunday, came to see his father and told him that he wanted to do his own business and relocate to Mexico with Mary. This does not bode well for Daniel and I thought that if H.W's plan was similar to Anwar Ibrahim and his manifesto, the reply would come from Najib, who would bash Anwar and who could say 'This man thinks that he is clever in economics, but in fact he's not.' and he might add 'Anwar would bankrupt the nation.'

I wonder whether if that above statement is what BN will reply if they lose this round of elections

So, if let's say that the 2/3 majority has been denied or if the opposition wins this election by more than 148 seats, then BN would say that above, especially Najib. The effect from that probably would be that Abdullah could face the embarassment at the UMNO elections and more support would be paved to Najib to become its next president.

Eli forcing Daniel into accepting the tenets against his choice is somewhat similar to Abdullah Badawi forcing his tenets of his Civilization Islam onto people whereas many believed that it has failed against the expectations and secondly, the tenets are violated particularly during the HINDRAF and the International Human Rights Day events.

Picture this, if Barisan Nasional / Abdullah Badawi is Eli Sunday, then everyone can be Daniel Plainview, plain and simple! Just watch the movie anyway...nuff said.

Additional material: Malaysiakini - Report Card II: Excellence, Glory, Distinction

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