For a man who’s lavished untold squillions in public money on self-publicity, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak seems to be keeping such a low profile lately as to be deeply suspicious if not outright sinister.
Of course it has long been his practice to strategically play dumb or go into temporary hiding whenever revelations about him and his criminal regime have been even uglier than usual.
But there’s nothing especially unusual about the current rash of scandals plaguing BN’s Malaysia. Just a few politically-motivated shootings, the usual foot-dragging on the prosecution of police deaths in custody, rampant corruption as always at every level of government, a couple more instances of the customary victimization of non-Muslim students in the public school system, the imminent collapse of the low-cost housing into which the peasants were moved to make way for Mahathir’s putrid Putrajaya, and of course more moves in the perennial scare-campaign against the Chinese, members of the Christian and other non-Muslim religions and even against allegedly heretical Sunni Muslims.
Nothing, in short, so serious or out-of-the-ordinary in the BN regime’s scheme of things to be worthy of concern or comment on the part of such an elevated, exclusive and indeed exquisite personage as Najib considers himself to be.
His current silence seems deeper and more prolonged than usual, though. So maybe, since lying, begging and buying BN to the worst general-election result in its history, and throwing a hissy-fit falsely blaming his humiliation on a “Chinese tsunami”, he’s still sitting at home sobbing with self-pity.
But more likely he’s fled the scene to seek consolation in one of his favourite occupations, splurging public money on big-noting himself overseas.
Having already lavished R44 million on first-class travel and luxury accommodation for himself, his family and assorted sycophants and cronies in the past four years, maybe he’s up there in the 1Malaysia jet attempting an assault on the Malaysian or even World Book of Records for the squandering of public funds.
Coming to earth once in a while, of course, to refuel both the aircraft and its occupants, and to treat his self-styled First Lady, Rosmah Mansor, to some sorely-needed retail therapy. And perhaps taking the opportunity while she shops to see if the stores’ managements are interested in stocking his signature line of “I love PM” t-shirts.
Whatever, Najib and Rosmah won’t be short of congenial company in their suite life in the world’s top hotels and shopping-malls, as this month of Ramadan is peak season for the hypocritical rich and privileged of the Muslim world to go feasting in the fleshpots of the West instead of fasting with the oppressed masses back home.
But maybe I do Najib a terrible wrong. Maybe he has no choice to be both silent and invisible, having been arrested by Interpol and held incommunicado on charges of money-laundering or corrupt international trafficking in submarines.
Or else he’s still stuck in Malaysia, having been kidnapped by Umno extremists alarmed by his rash and reckless pre-election promises to reform the party, and incarcerated in the basement of the Putra World Trade Centre until he relents.
Or, horror of horrors, he could be shut up in the cellars of Tun Dr Mahathir’s magnificent residence at The Mines and being subjected to unspeakable medical tortures like having to read The Malay Dilemma over and over for presuming to pass himself off as the real prime minister of Malaysia.
But whether Najib is detained in some dungeon, or flying around living high on the hog, or simply lying doggo somewhere licking his wounds, I wish he’d come back and start appearing and speaking in public again.
Because, despite the hottest possible competition from his deputy and other BN identities, nobody personifies the falsehood, fraudulence and sheer repellence of the regime quite so perfectly as Najib does.
Though I’ll grant you that Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin can give Najib a run for his money at times in the lying and spinning department.
Muhyiddin’s recent “slower pace of life in Ramadan” alibi for BN’s failure to achieve the 4,000-vote majority he predicted in the Kuala Besut buy-election was almost up, or rather down, to Najib’s standard, as was his “magic stick” remark intended to convince the people that BN would honour its pre-election promises.
And the Terengganu Menteri Besar, Ahmad Said, who had earlier made a bid to equal if not outdo Najib in sheer effrontery with his lying claim that “gifts” of land to Umno politicians were “proper”, came out this week with the extraordinary claim that the awarding of government projects is justified because it is “a matter of political survival.”
“If I want a project done, need a contractor and give it to a PAS contractor, then I’m stupid,” Malaysiakini quoted him as saying. “This is politics. (It is) about getting power and staying in power.”
And as if that wasn’t enough to render him almost as terminally detestable as Najib and Muhyddin, he went on to deny Paka assemblyperson Saiful Bahri Mamat’s complaint that the ludicrous RM250 million so-called Kuala Besut International Tourism Gateway project would benefit only crony contractors, not the local community, with the claim that “it is the rakyat who will benefit when tourists come to stay and eat Terengganu Keropok.”
But at least Said stopped short of suggesting that tourists should eat their keropok in the shower room, which is where non-Muslim school-children at SK Seri Pristana in Sungai Buloh were recently revealed to be required to eat their lunches.
In a move that would do the currently silent, absent Najib proud, acting police chief for Selangor State, A Thaiveegan, focused his attention not on this offensive situation, but on threatening whoever revealed it.
“Police will not hesitate to take action against those found spreading seditious information about the school over the social network,” BN’s gutter ‘newspaper’ Utusan Malaysia quoted him as declaring.
Thaiveegan later claimed he had been misquoted, a standard ploy of BN spokespersons when caught talking trash, but Selangor Umno has taken up his initial cry, urging the authorities to investigate the parent responsible for revealing the show-room canteen situation and to apply the provisions of the Sedition Act 1948 against her.
BN liaison committee chairperson Noh Omar also called on the state education department not to act against the school principal because he has “served well” and that the issue had been “twisted and taken out of context.”
So it’s clear that in Najib’s absence, be it voluntary or otherwise, his minions are quite capably parroting the kind of rot he invariably talks. But it’s not the same, somehow. To me nothing beats the sight and sound of Najib himself, except perhaps for Mahathir, when it comes to personifying the sheer odiousness of the crooked, conniving BN regime.
And thus the sooner he returns from wherever he is and starts flapping his lips again, the sooner an even bigger majority of Malaysians will become convinced that it’s time to shut him and his accomplices up. Preferably somewhere sound- and escape-proof.