by Shaikh Nawab
1. British Separatists won by a majority of 1. 2 million votes in the EU Referendum. A few hours after the Leave Campaign secured the painful win – the pound has been on a freefall since – David Cameron announced his imminent resignation. He had passionately lobbied for Britain to stay in the EU. He insisted Friday morning that a new leader would have to preside over the exit and take the nation forward.
2. The EU Referendum came five days after the electorate in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar backed, in by-elections, the candidates representing Umno, whose leader Najib Razak has for a year now resisted calls for him to resign over the 1MDB super mess. 1MDB was intended to be a bold, high-energy fund with the highest of risks, that steadfastly refused to scoop up public money. “It started with a mere RM1 million of Government funds,” Najib had more than 12 months ago told a TV station. 1MDB went on to create global financial history on account (so far) of being investigated by authorities in seven countries. It has already caused the closure of a Singapore branch of a reputable 143-year-old Swiss Bank. It is spewing out, still, endless bad, in fact nasty, Press globally. An instrument that prided itself in not dredging public funds, broke new grounds in the haste and reckless manner it was piling up debts. It hastily borrowed money which according to the international Press went on a meandering, cleansing ride. These are conceited allegations? Which is exactly why we need full disclosure and a proper debate.
Instead those who dared to ask the whereabouts of the funds had been sacked. The most prominent among them was Muhyiddin Yassin, who had served loyally as Najib’s deputy since he took power in 2009. The Attorney General was declared too sick to continue and was hastily replaced by a person who had since cleared the Prime Minister of any wrongdoing and was the other day handed a top honour on the occasion of the King’s birthday. Just this week the head of the MACC which had investigated 1MDB and Najib, said he was so thrilled to accept a “golden” opportunity to teach at an institute in Austria, reportedly for an initial period of three months. This mighty honour compelled him to walk away from his MACC job although he was not due to retire until 2018.
3. Umno leaders have for months been noisily arguing that the 1MDB is an old recycled issue that voters could not relate to. In some ways the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar results have vindicated the Umno leaders. Those smiling nice people on the ground adopted the time honoured “bersangka baik” maxim and enthusiastically supported Umno and Najib. It was unwise for Rafizi of PKR to have chided the voters for being moved by worldly gains. The indictment should be properly directed at the political class, not the rakyat. That a majority of voters in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar ruled 1MDB to be a non-issue is a measure of the little progress made in graduating rakyat to higher grades.
In any case vast numbers continue to be unquestioning, probably not because they are seriously dumb. They are being practical. They simply don’t earn enough to liberate their minds. Hints of a stoppage of Government assistance would have a suffocating effect in the heartland. They are too timid to consider that they will have access to, and, opportunities for, more income if endemic corruption is finally defeated. They lack the financial independence one needs to develop the courage to ask questions and to see things in the correct perspectives. Their lives have hardly improved as opposed to that of those Umno leaders. Granted many of the Umno personalities are selfless warriors but there is a distinct wealthy and elitist segment at the top.
4. It is true that scandal-tainted leaders would not have survived such a disaster in most democracies. The fearsome Press, those outspoken, impatient backbenchers even the more honourable Cabinet Ministers would have hounded them out of office.
5. What about the illiberal democracies then? Is Malaysia in this category? Fear is crippling inhibition. There must be this genuine fear of being investigated for some forms of transgressions. The honest ones may worry about retributions. A few could even be shielding the leader to protect their own cache.
6. Additionally the current Umno regime has been handed boosters from unlikely quarters – Pas and Anwar Ibrahim. Hadi Awang the president of Pas was present at the house of Sanusi Junid some four decades ago when Anwar, Sanusi, Hadi and the late Fadzil Noor founded Abim. When Anwar was expelled from Umno, Fadzil was quick to react in cobbling together an alliance of Opposition parties. Lim Kit Siang and DAP came on board. This was the genesis that produced stunning results in the 2008 and 2013 elections. At around the last general election Hadi started to entertain doubts about the suitability of Anwar as prime ministerial candidate of Pakatan.
The falling out might or might not have inspired the formation of a Pas breakaway called Amanah. This was an incredibly major incentive for Umno. A split Opposition would hand Umno victories of the sort we saw in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar. With Harapan forming a new coalition with the other Pakatan parties, Pas became more emboldened and also properly isolated. Umno presented a prospect of being a not too-bad–distant associate. An arms length love story was concocted prompting Pas to develop brand new narratives. One has it that the party is not preoccupied with winning. Its support base greeted this new line with sheer passion.
7. Anwar has also aided this Umno leadership by firing from prison two missives replete with his usual hyperboles deep-fried in extra melancholy. The underlying tone is to warn PKR leaders especially Azmin Ali to stay away from one Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the Deklarasi Rakyat platform. At the same time old foes and rudderless critics have turned on Mahathir, blaming him for things that have gone wrong in the country
8. In a comical twist, so many have forgotten that the real issue is the industrial scale corruption. Even Hadi according to a public intellectual who had followed his career from day one started off by crusading against corruption. The menace is no longer seen as a threat that the curious resignation of the top graftbuster was allowed to proceed with minimal fuss.
9. It is time to launch a hiatus in discussing the 1MDB issue. Allow a Ramadhan-Syawal breather. Don’t even mention the word. Let’s “move on” and follow pronouncements from authorities in other countries investigating the scandal. We can eventually regroup to consider the senseless nature of politics in Malaysia. That we have triggered a globally feared financial cancer and yet so many are only interested in bashing Dr Mahathir.
The above is an opinion piece sent in by one of the readers.
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