While I have no idea whether the late, great self-styled ‘gonzo’ journalist Hunter S Thompson coined the phrase “fear and loathing”, he certainly made it famous. Thus bequeathing the rest of us the perfect lens through which to view criminal political regimes like Malaysia’s Barisan Nasional.
For decades, especially during the 22-year premiership of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, fear-mongering has been one of the loathsome BN’s most potent weapons.
But as one of Malaysia’s most ardent yet modestly virtually anonymous social activists and public academics claimed the other day when we met for kopi and makan at KL’s The Curve, most Malaysians have conquered their fear of the BN regime, and now all they feel for it is outright loathing.
And to judge from lots of other Malaysians I’ve spoken to in the past few weeks here, he’s right. In fact many have told me that they feel such deep and abiding loathing for BN that they can’t stand the sight of its members’ faces, let alone bear to watch, listen to or read the mainstream medias’ propagandist praise of these crooks.
Even BN’s continued attempts to foment fear, like the current gnome posing as home minister’s “shoot-first” police policy, dire warnings of threats from Shia Islam, and attacks on media like The Heat, apparently only inspire more loathing.
As, of course, do Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s endlessly duplicitous antics. Like his splurging of billions in public funds to buy himself and his regime a fake “win” in the 13th general election, and now his savagely raising taxes, tolls and prices of countless crony-controlled commodities and services to reward the cronies as well as to try and replenish the coffers in readiness to try and buy another term in four years’ time.
All the while presiding over a system of outrageous robbery, jobbery, corruption, embezzlement, nepotism and obscenely high living for himself and his accomplices on the one hand, and on the other prescribing greater economy, self-sacrifice and belt-tightening on the part of the poor, unfortunate rakyat.
No wonder the polls are showing a plunge in public approval for this pathetic apology for a prime minister. Even the idiots who swallowed his pack of lying pre-election promises and made the mistake of voting for him and his crooked coalition are starting to wake up to what a waste of space he is.
And surely many of the millions of sincerely devout Muslims in Malaysia are starting to see the reality behind the big lie that Umno is devoted to the defence of Islam.
The lying, thieving and corruption that characterize this rotten party and the BN regime it dominates are about as un-Islamic as it is possible to get.
As is the unrelenting campaign to keep Malaysians of all races and creeds both at loggerheads with each other and as ignorant as possible of the BN government’s criminality.
The promotion of ignorance through cloaking government financial and other affairs by means of the Official Secrets Act (ISA) and censorship of the media by means of the pernicious Printing, Presses and Publications Act is reprehensible enough.
But the program of brain-washing and mind-control extends far beyond these most obvious areas, with the regime also systematically re-writing Malaysian history in its favour, permitting if not actually participating in the destruction of priceless archaeological sites, and working tirelessly to dumb-down the nation’s educational system.
All the while, of course, claiming that it supports educational excellence and equality for all children while quietly sending its own offspring to international schools or shipping them overseas.
Though, come to think of it, the value of such expensive overseas educations is at least in some cases highly debatable. Prime Minister Najib, for example, allegedly attended Nottingham University.
But far from achieving any discernible enlightenment there, let alone so much as a shred of ethical awareness or integrity, all he appears to have gained is an urge to pose as the olden-day Sherriff of Nottingham’s legendary adversary, Robin Hood.
But even that he’s got wrong, as unlike the famous outlaw who reportedly robbed the rich to give to the poor, he’s turned out to be a Robbin’ Hood devoted to doing precisely the reverse.
Leading his gang of BN merry men and women in unprecedented plunder of the Malaysia’s publicly-owned resources, and raking-in billions more of the peoples’ money by means of whatever tolls, taxes, approval permits and sundry other imposts he can get away with.
And what he and his accomplices can’t steal they squander. In Najib’s case on everything from fabulously costly overseas trips for himself and his spouse and their retinues to the most bloated prime minister’s department in Malaysia’s history, with an annual budget of over RM16 billion.
With the result that, despite routine regime threats of retribution for criticizing this state of affairs, or of imaginary dangers posed by non-existent enemies of Islam, all that most Malaysians fear these days is BN-created financial hardship or outright ruin.
But such fear on the part of the people is nothing to the terror the regime is increasingly feeling at the prospect of the people’s retribution for all the decades of its criminal corruption, thievery and waste.
Because even as carefully cocooned as the culprits are by legions of paid supporters and sycophants in the police, judiciary, mainstream media, and most of the civil services, plus crowds of grossly expensive consultants, they can hardly be entirely unaware of the rapidly-rising tide of popular loathing.
Nor, or so it appears, do they have the slightest idea what to do about it, as their every fraudulent twist and turn and lying utterance reveals them in a more loathsome light than ever.
And I hope and trust that by the time the next general election comes around in four long years, the loathing will have reached such epic proportions that the regime won’t be able to buy enough votes for love or money, and its worst fears of defeat will finally be realised.