These days it seems that karma is getting ever-closer to catching up with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his kiasu consort Rosmah Mansor.
This week Rosmah once again demonstrated that she is not so much the first lady of Malaysia as the first liability of her husband’s rotten regime, with an embarrassing attempt to support the forthcoming GST with the claim that it could save her some of the RM1200 she proudly boasts she’s been paying for home visits from her hairdresser.
Even the very name of the group to which she gave this address, the Welfare Association of Wives of Ministers and deputy Ministers (Bakti), is an affront to ‘ordinary’ Malaysians, suggesting as it does that the spouses of the regime’s top rip-off merchants have had the hide to set up a charity for their own benefit.
Certainly Rosmah signified that she and her fellow Bakti members consider themselves a cut above the common herd, with her statement that the GST will advantage “people like us” who do not sew their own clothes or do their own hair.
And, in case her revelation that she pays more for a home-visit hairdo and dye job than the minimum monthly wage for a Malaysian worker wasn’t enough to signal her superiority over mere mortals, she underlined how out of touch she is with the rakyat’s reality with the rider that “they say the price is different in the store.”
As many people have commented on this story, it is highly debatable whether Rosmah has been getting her RM1200 worth from her hairdresser, as she looks to be having a bad-hair day every day.
In fact, in recognition of this, Malaysia’s supreme political cartoonist, Zunar, has long made a point of lampooning Rosmah’s rambut as looking like a dyed-in-the wool caricature of some datin’s wet-dream of what a first lady’s crowning glory should look like, and has had his books banned in consequence.
What her hubby Najib thinks of Rosmah’s astonishing hairstyle, not to mention the enormous cost of maintaining the thing, is anybody’s guess. Though only recently he reportedly poked fun at the notorious Samy Vellu’s strikingly similarly-looking black and bouffant locks.
But Najib now has much more to concern himself with than his wife’s and others’ bad-hair days, as he’s since had a bad-scare day to which he responded in such panic-stricken fashion as to cost himself a whole series of bad-heir days.
The whole thing started with a New York Times story that revealed suspicious dealings in expensive real-estate by identities with close ties to him and Rosmah, and made much of the lavish lifestyle of Najib and his family.
The newspaper published photographs of Rosmah with some of her collection of wildly-expensive Birkin handbags, and of course wearing her expensive hairdo, and claimed that it had documentary evidence of the ordering of “millions of dollars worth of jewellery for her in Hong Kong in 2008 and 2009.
And as if that wasn’t enough to well and truly get the shopaholic, golfaholic, jet-setting first couple’s hackles up, the story then went on to quote a statement by a former aide, Ariff Sabri, that Najib had routinely kept “piles and piles” of cash stacked in his safe.
Of course Najib could have simply denied this, in the same way he has always denied allegations of complicity in such cases as the Altantuya Shaariibuu killing or the recent conspiracy to re-convict Anwar Ibrahim. Or, alternatively, he could have given it his more customary silent treatment.
But for some reason, perhaps rattled by all the international flak he’s been getting lately, not to mention Mahathir Mohamad’s increasingly pressing calls for his resignation, he rashly elected to issue a rebuttal of the New York Times allegations and insinuations by way of his bloated and blighted Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
“Neither any money spent on travel, jewellery purchases nor the alleged contents of any safes,” the statement read, “are unusual for a person of the prime minister’s position, responsibilities, and legacy (of) family assets.”
Nothing out of the ordinary about the first part of this. Just the standard weasel words Najib would use on any why-should-I-care, can’t-be-bothered-turning-a-hair, keep-hassling-me-if-you-dare day.
But what turned Najib’s bad-scare day into a serious string of bad-heir days was that innocent-looking final phrase, “legacy of family assets.”
Because not only did it inspire Najib’s countless and very cynical critics to question the nature, source and size of this alleged “legacy”, and to conjecture that “legacy” might be Najib’s latest euphemism for theft, but in conjunction with the words “family assets” it aroused the ire of his brothers.
In what it described an “unusual move”, Malaysiakini reported that “four of Najib’s younger brothers had issued a rare ‘private’ statement…expressing worry that the name of their father…could be tarnished by such talks of family assets.”
“We wish to put on record,” the brothers’ statement read in part, “that Abdul Razak was a highly-principled man, well known to all who knew him for his frugality and utmost integrity and any statement or inference to the contrary would be totally false and misleading to his memory and sacrifices for the nation.”
“We take issue with anyone who taints his memory, whatever the motive,” the statement continued, adding that “we would also like to add that our whole family is united on this issue.”
This latter sentence inevitably causes me to wonder whether the “whole” family referred to here is intended to include Najib and by extension Rosmah, or whether they have been declared as comprehensively persona non grata by the Razak clan as they have by the vast majority of the Malaysian family, and thus condemned to suffer their remaining bad-hair and bad-heir days in increasing isolation.
Not that they’d be lonely, because as long as they can get their hands on plenty of plunderable public money, be it from the forthcoming GST, or the dodgy “investment” vehicle 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) or wherever, they will always enjoy the company of the meretricious members, rent-seeking cronies and paid supporters of the BN regime.
But let’s hope this state of affairs doesn’t drag on too much longer. Because while it lasts Malaysians are condemned to live with the stench of corruption, theft, extrajudicial killings and countless other forms of government-sponsored crime. In other words, every day under BN is by definition a bad-air day. And after decade after decade of suffering this stinking, suffocating state of affairs, it’s time the people finally had their day.