The Boy Whom Death Could Not Kill - A Story Of Corruption And Hope

If Hang Nadim could see us now, surely he would weep bitter tears of shame.

How did a nation founded upon freedom fall prey to tyranny? How could a land once famed for its prosperity turn into one where poverty rules supreme? What happened to make these things possible?

These questions continue to haunt me, and our people are unable to escape them. For generations after independence, we believed ourselves free. But the illusion soon disappeared, like smoke blown away by the wind.

If the tales of old tell the truth, then there is much blame to go around. For, if you look back, a boy is said to have told the king of Temasek the way to save his kingdom. His words may seem insignificant to some, yet they changed history forever. That same boy later became known as Hang Nadim, the hero of a tragedy.

It was said that Temasek was attacked by a demonic army of swordfish whose numbers seemed endless. Through sheer strength alone, no man would survive the onslaught. The Raja, typical overconfident leader that he was, planned to fend off the attackers with a human chain of soldiers standing tall in the water. Life meant nothing to him compared to saving his city, and he didn't care whether thousands of his men bled doing it. And the people, blinded by their obedience towards authority, agreed wholeheartedly. Many were gutted, others flayed alive, stabbed by the swordfishes' sharpened spines, their entrails pulled out through gaping wounds. Some even died of thirst while waiting helplessly for death. All that mattered was survival... until the day Hang Nadim came forward, offering an alternative solution.

His eyes glowed with intelligence and wisdom far beyond his years. He knew the nature of the creatures attacking them well enough. Unlike other boys of his age, he was not afraid of danger. He saw the folly in joining hand in hand to die in an ocean filled with hungry fish. Instead, he suggested using something else entirely: banana leaves. Such simple logic! If they placed the banana stalks in the path of the monsters, the fishes' bodies would get stuck between the leaves. They'd suffocate before reaching the shore. With this idea, the rajah finally managed to repel the waves of destruction.

Finally, it was time for everyone to celebrate. Only Hang Nadim remained silent. No smile adorned his face. He looked worried, almost sad. Why? Hadn't everything turned out alright? Wasn't the battle won? The fact is that, despite all the odds being stacked against them, they prevailed. It took courage to speak up when nobody listened. It takes courage to offer different ideas, regardless of how ridiculous they might sound at first. This goes without saying, but the bravery displayed by Hang Nadim is truly admirable.

Yet the Raja couldn’t accept it. How could a mere boy come up with such a brilliant idea? How could anyone ever know what to expect next? The future holds infinite possibilities.

Therefore, the Raja ordered the assassination of the boy. Out of envy of his intellect and fear of losing power; out of greed for fame and glory; and out of hubris and pride, the Raja's courtiers killed the innocent child. His blood poured down the hill of his ancestral home. Thus, the land became known as Bukit Merah ("red mountain").

For days, the entire population mourned. But soon, life must go on. As usual, the people did just fine, and the Raja, well, he wasn't so good. For some reason, whenever someone made a suggestion, he always disagreed vehemently. Whenever someone tried to act independently, he immediately contradicted them. When we needed leadership, he failed us miserably. And when our country faced crisis after crisis, he never helped. We can say one thing about Raja: he does nothing right. Yet the people, apathetic and uncaring, continued to obey him anyway.

Such is the tragedy of our nation today. When injustice becomes common practice, people lose hope. Soon, even the most noble of intentions become tainted. People are no longer willing to fight for justice. Instead, they started blaming one another. At times like these, words cannot express the pain felt by those left behind.

Hang Nadim's death has caused repercussions throughout history. Not only did Hang Nadim save Singapore from certain doom, he also gave the world a lesson in cruelty and tyranny. A lesson that should never be forgotten. There comes a moment in every man's life where the line between good and evil is drawn. Where empathy turns to pity. Where compassion gives way to anger. Such was the case for Hang Nadim. On the day he died, he crossed over from innocence to wisdom. Even though he was just a kid, he saw through the lies and folly. He grasped the significance of the truth, and his compassion for his fellow man shone as brightly as the sun.

I ask you, my readers, to please do not let this story end here. Myth as it may be, the morality of Hang Nadim still rings true today. If there is one single person reading this far, then I urge you to take heed. Our nation is in a blight of corruption, nepotism, hypocrisy, and fraudulence. Like the swordfish, if given enough time, our own leaders would devour themselves whole. It is high time we took action against the rot at the core of our government. No matter how much money we pour into the system, until we rid ourselves of the parasites within, our efforts will remain futile.

Stand strong and reject the darkness. Stand firm and reject false promises. Let your voice ring loudly across the waters and echo beyond the horizon. Speak clearly and speak loudly. Say 'no' to everything rotten and wrong in this world. The degenerate rulers of this land rule without care. They reward their cronies with riches while condemning anyone else to poverty. Their greed knows no bounds. Once, they wanted Hang Nadim dead and let their own people die a meaningless death. Today, they want to kill off everyone who dares challenge their reign. Is there anything worse than such callousness? Nothing, except perhaps indifference.

What happened to Hang Nadim is a testament to what happens when apathy rules supreme. What kind of future awaits us if we continue down this path? We must stop the rot before it spreads any further. Only then can we truly say that justice prevails once again in these lands. Until then, we shall live in fear.

If Hang Nadim could see us now, surely he would weep bitter tears of shame.

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Business writer at The Malaysian Reserve. I write other things here too, you know.

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Fayyadh Jaafar

Fayyadh Jaafar

Business writer at The Malaysian Reserve. I write other things here too, you know.

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