What a can of worms!

Or perhaps I should make that ‘watt a can of electric eels’, in light of the fact that one of the most shocking revelations of BN regime antics this week was the expenditure of RM2.2 million in the year 2012, or an average of RM8,500 per day, on electric power for the official residences of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin.

For many of us this shed brilliant new light on Lord Acton’s by now proverbial wisdom that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The revelation also galvanized countless commentators into to conjecturing on how such astonishing levels of consumption could have been achieved.

A couple of my favourite theories were those portrayed by brilliant internationally award-winning cartoonist, Zunar: operation of his private Scorpene Submarine by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, and heavy hair-dryer use by his spouse and self-styled First Lady of Malaysia, Rosmah Mansor.

Somebody even suggested that the power bill might be not only metaphorically but literally astronomical, in that Najib could be beaming his 1Malaysia logo or even his own image, Batman style, onto clouds, the moon or other celestial objects as part of Malaysia’s alleged space program.

Others observed that even good-sized factories operating around the clock could hardly consume so much power, thus reminding me of the fact that such suspiciously high levels of consumption are what often alert police in law-abiding countries to the presence of illicit methamphetamine laboratories or indoor hydroponic marihuana plantations.

But of course it could simply be that Najib has a collection of presses working around the clock in exercise of the privilege that every big-noter in BN appears to believe he or she enjoys, a licence to print money.

The regime is not so liberal with licenses to print newspapers, however. In its long-term determination to suppress as much of the endlessly shocking bad news about itself as possible, BN has long blocked Malaysiakini and other non-crony news organisations from entry into the ‘mainstream’ media.

In a bid to overturn a High Court judgment that the operator of the Malaysiakini should be permitted a publication licence, lawyers for the regime and its Home Ministry recently speciously argued in the Court of Appeal that “publication of a newspaper is a privilege, not a right,” and additionally that publication by Malaysiakini would result in “confusion” of readers and would also threaten the profit margins of existing newspapers.

Many readers and supporters of Malaysiakini were elated at the Court of Appeal’s rejection of all three of these preposterous propositions, but some of us are not so immediately optimistic.

Home Minister Ahmad “Shoot First” Zahid Hamidi is reportedly considering further legal action, which of course could delay the publication of the proposed hard-copy edition of Malaysiakini indefinitely. Or, in other words, as seems to be the case concerning prosecution of the alleged culprits in the notorious National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal and sundry other BN-related crimes, until the cows come home.

Which reminds me that another of the unsavoury contents of the can of worms that the mainstream media are devoted to keeping the lid on or at least desperately trying to make palatable, leaving Malaysiakini virtually alone in revealing its gruesome reality, is this week’s ritual slaughter of a cow in front of young students in grounds of a government school, SK Puchong Jaya in Selangor.

Public outrage at this atrocity, which many considered both potentially traumatizing to young children and deeply offensive to Hindus, especially so close to the Festival of Deepavali, was simply shrugged-off by some in the regime.

In response to a protest by DAP MP for Ipoh Barat, M Kulasegaran, BN MP for Tasek Gelugor, Shabudin Yahaya tried to pass-off the slaughter as “a practical lesson” that is “part of the education” of Muslim students in the school.

However, a statement by Deputy Education Minister II P Kamalanathan that the Education Ministry never allowed the slaughter of cows in government schools was greeted by Perkasa Youth chief Irwan Fahmi Ideris as an insult to the Malays and all Muslims.

Speaking of education, following his cutting of the subsidy on sugar in the recent budget, resulting in a retail price increase of 34 sen per kg, PM Najib defended this move against a decidedly sour public reaction with the instructive observation that over-consumption of sugar can not only cause or exacerbate diabetes, but also impair one’s libido.

He failed to mention, however, whether blood-sugar levels have any effect on a person’s lust for loot. Though apparently no causative connection has been established in this regard, as the same coterie of cronies as usual apparently still retains the sweetheart deal it enjoys with the regime for a Malaysian monopoly on sugar.

The budget also delivered Najib’s own obscenely bloated Prime Minister’s Department a deal so sweet it seems positively sickly: a budget of RM16.5 billion, including such mystery items as a RM4 billion “facilitation fund”, a RM1 billion “development program”, RM900 million for “community restructuring”, RM665 for “people-friendly projects” and 200 million for “special projects”.

A can of worms this big, on top of all the others still waiting to be opened on cases including the “commission”-bedeviled Scorpene submarines deal and the allegedly related murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu and her unborn child, is enough to put the annual RM2.2 million Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) bill in the shade.

In any event, TNB needs all the cash it can scrounge right now, as it dodges and weaves to try and evade financial responsibility for the flash flood that drowned three people, destroyed 80 houses and swept away 100 vehicles when the floodgate of its Sultan Abu Bakar Dam in the Cameron Highlands was opened with little or no prior warning one night last week.

With the contents of this and so many other containers of creepy-crawlies yet to be revealed to an increasingly disgusted nation, it must be quite a relief to Najib to be off in the UK. Having remembered to take his electric can-opener with him to open the caviar, we trust, and hopefully also having remembered to turn-off the air (if not the cons) back home.

 

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