The amazing Malaysian hopping frog

While frogs are simply built to jump, another resurrected species brings new meaning to the word when with a mere hop and skip they can topple elected governments.


A COUPLE of days ago some of us old-timers in the office were swapping some tales of days gone by and one of us related the story of embarking on night missions to catch frogs, bringing them back and having them for supper in porridge.

“You know, frogs are not slimy,” one said to the other. “Their skin is smooth, but not slimy. If you want to catch them you have got to get a firm hold on them around their waists above their hind legs.”

“And they can jump! Your arm will move quite a way up when they jump while they are in your grasp.”

The others looked incredulously at the frog-catcher. Not slimy? Such a strong leap?

Not all of that applies to those of the two-legged variety whose jumps will eventually bring about the fall of the Perak government and may threaten others, both the Pakatan Rakyat’s and Barisan Nasional’s.

And yes, another one of us remarked that the two-legged variety will be far too poisonous to be put into porridge and eaten — perhaps we should just put that variety in the soup for jumping? But alas, there will be no such luck. Pakatan and Barisan are both united on this one — neither wants to stop the frogs from, well, jumping.

Our new revived species of frogs are giving the old noble species a very bad name. You see, frogs — the four-legged variety — are naturally well-endowed, very able and very exceptional creatures.

Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia: “Frogs are generally recognised as exceptional jumpers, and the best jumper of all vertebrates. The Australian rocket frog, can leap over 50 times its body length (5.5cm), resulting in jumps of over 2m.

“In modern frogs, almost all muscles have been modified to contribute to the action of jumping, with only a few small muscles remaining to bring the limb back to the starting position and maintain posture.”

I don’t know whether our two-legged frogs are similarly equipped to make those metaphysical hops but I suspect not.

They are influenced by negative and positive inducements to jump, or else who can explain to me their seemingly innate ability to metamorphose — better and quicker than the real frogs.

Well, we all know how frogs develop from fish-like tadpoles into the adult frog form which is so different from the starting point. That happens just once. But our metaphysical frogs are even more amazing — they can change at will.

And so they went from ardent Pakatan supporters to ardent Barisan fans because Pakatan was no good; and one even hopped from Barisan to Pakatan and back to Barisan all in a few days — the super frog, as one news wag put it.

Now tell me, which ordinary, everyday, regular frog can beat that for metamorphosis!

I wonder what kind of inducement can induce that. And talk about charging more than once for the same product, it would make a used car salesman blush in shame. It is make hay while the sun shines, and the higher you jump the higher the bid.

So if one two-legged frog can metamorphose, what’s to stop more of them from taking the great leap forward, or backward, as the case may be? See, there are two playing the game now, whereas it was one before.

And we have a whole slew of legislation supporting this wonderful game of leapfrog such as you can’t contest for the same seat for five years if you resign from it. That means you can’t do the honourable thing when you jump ship … er, party. And if you jump party there is nothing to force you to step down.

Poor Pakatan is now at the wrong side of the great divide that the amazing Malaysian hopping frogs are leaping across, but they really no longer have the high moral ground to ask for a stop to the hop. Why?

Here’s why. Barisan engineered three frogs to leap and one more to promptly hop back after leaping away.

But the Pakatan leader, considered a past expert on the amazing Malaysian hopping frog, got carried away and once threatened — and set a deadline — to get at least 30 frogs to leap and unseat the federal government, which was just eight seats short of a two-thirds majority.

That would have been quite a feat, even if it were immoral, but of course it never came to pass.

Barisan must have just taken a leaf out of his book of grand strategy and did a far more easier thing, the leap-frogging of just three state assemblymen on a net basis to unseat a state government.

As Confucius might have said: “He who has frogs must know he has frogs and know that they can hop, too.”

But these two-legged frogs, whose sudden return after some 14 years, are a dire threat to the practice of a vibrant democracy because their actions thwart the will of the people.

Perak’s people voted for the opposition. Now they are on the brink of getting a Barisan government. Unfair!

Here’s another interesting fact about frogs – they are present throughout the world but not in the Antarctica and some oceanic islands.

Which brings forth a thought. Those days rulers had the power to banish their subjects. These days they have the power to dissolve the state assembly or Parliament under some circumstances.

If I were a ruler and I had both powers, here’s what I would do. The two-legged frogs I would banish to the Antarctica to spend the rest of their days playing hopscotch and increasing the population of frogs there.

That would lead to a tie in the state assembly. There’s no choice but to dissolve it for fresh elections.

(P. Gunasegaram is managing editor of The Star. He often indulges in wishful thinking to overcome the humdrum of daily existence.)