My anti-BN booster.

After 8 years of rashly exposing myself to BN disease, the deadly plague of political germs and parasites so chronically and so far incurably plaguing Malaysia, I’m pretty sure that I’m immune to it by now.

But on the principle that it can’t hurt to play doubly safe, I’m in the process of boosting my resistance to BN’s festering democracy with some massive protective doses of Sydney’s second annual Festival of Democracy.

Staged by the Sydney University-based Sydney Democracy Network, the Festival is featuring the first-ever exhibition of paintings by exiled pro-democracy Chinese artist-activist Wang Xu entitled “The Silenced: From 1957 Until Today”, and four days of presentations and symposia on such topics as “Power, people and Democracy”, “The Case for Deliberative Democracy”, “Zombie Democracy”, “The New Despotisms” and “Religion, Hate Spin and Democracy”.

All the sessions I’ve attended have proven helpful protection against the possibility of contracting BN disease, of course, but the final one on the above list has been especially effective in light of the BN regime’s unstinting efforts to infect Malaysians with religious and racial hatred.

Behind the blind of fraudulent slogans like “1Malaysia”, the BN regime has for years feverishly worked to foment divide-and-rule discord by funding hate groups like Perkasa and Isma, publishing rabble-rousing “newspapers” like Utusan Malaysia and, especially lately, selectively accusing a whole slew of critics and opponents of sedition.

The very charge on which BN itself is most guilty, given its systematic subversion of Malaysia’s constitution and civil institutions for the purpose of perpetuating its monopoly on power and plunder.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is principally responsible for this pathological state of affairs, but he usually prefers to feign innocence through his absence. As he currently is on a jaunt to New York for the purpose of plying the UN General Assembly with his customary pack of lies, buying a “hero” award for his so-called First Lady, living high on the hog at public expense and doubtless also spending some of his Scorpene submarines and other “commissions” on a little light fashion and jewellery shopping.

But Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is busy doing Najib’s dirty-work for him back home, having reportedly ranted in a speech at an Umno Lumut event on September 20 that “as the minister responsible for the Royal Malaysian Police, wallahi billahi tallahi (I swear to Allah) that if police reports are lodged against any individual who impinged (sic) on a sensitive issue, the police will start investigations immediately, if possible within 24 hours.”

However, as everybody knows, when Zahid says “any individual” he means any non-BN individual, and what he deems a “sensitive issue” is not only what he repeatedly claims are the “Three Pillars” of the Malaysian state, BN style – Race, Religion and Royalty – but also the fourth pillar the other three are employed by the regime to protect: robbery.

As you and I and indeed Allah all very well know, the BN regime has robbed Malaysians of not only untold billions of ringgit in cash and natural resources, but also of countless constitutional rights and protections including an honest and impartial judiciary, honest mainstream news media and an independent electoral commission.

In fact BN has even robbed Malaysians of their legitimate self-respect and Malaysia of its international reputation. Far from making Malaysia one of the world’s best democracies, as Najib has claimed as his goal, with one of the best education systems in the world, as Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin recently falsely claimed, this rotten regime has made Malaysia a global watchword for mediocrity if not utter disgrace.

Long scoring badly on corruption, press repression, university and other educational rankings, and among the worst of the worst on sundry other scores including those for illicit capital outflow, people trafficking, internet scamming, football match fixing and denial of workers’ rights.

And just lately the international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) declared Malaysia one of the worst places in the world for the maltreatment of transgender people, even compared with other Muslim-majority countries.

According to Malaysiakini, HRW’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights division’s advocacy director Boris Dittrich said recently that “Malaysia is one of the worst countries when compared to other Muslim countries because the raids happen continuously.”

Speaking at a press conference following the launch of a HRW report titled ‘I’m scared to be a Woman’, Dittrich said that “almost every day, transgender people run the risk of getting arrested,” adding that he and his team were “shocked” at the situation as revealed to them in interviews with transgender people and activists.

I can’t wait for the prime minister’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly this weekend to hear how he goes about denying or at least justifying his regime’s world-class record of cruelty, criminality and incompetence, not to mention his exhortation to his Umno party recently to “emulate the courage of ISIL” in its efforts to keep its grip on power.

But meanwhile, his doltish deputy, Muyhiddin Yassin, has urged voters in the Pengkalan Kubor state by-election to give BN a win “as a gift” to Najib, adding the ludicrous remark that a BN victory was crucial because “world representatives at the United Nations General Assembly were keeping tabs on the by-election.”

Najib, Muyhiddin and the entire watching world can now relax in the face of the fact that BN has indeed won the Pengkalan Kubor by-election. Though whether this was a voter present for Najib, or due to BN’s wholesale bribery of voters with “gifts” of microwave ovens, or disgust at PAS following its advocacy of hudud and its betrayal of its Pakatan Rakyat (PR) partners in the Selangor menteri besar fiasco, is anybody’s guess.

But one thing’s for sure and certain. If there’s anything that BN ever does, or has any intention of ever doing, that has anything remotely to do with democracy, it’s democracy at its most debased and outright diseased. And thus I’m grateful to the conveners of and presenters at Sydney’s Festival of Democracy for boosting my immunity to this accursed ethical and intellectual infection.

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