As depressing as it is to admit this in the now, as of this month, 10 years I have spent striving to make enough sense of the Umno/BN regime’s monstrous misgovernment of Malaysia to write about it for Malaysiakini, today I find myself as mystified as ever.
Or possibly even more mystified than ever, having in the interests of research exposed myself to an entire decade of the ruling regime’s mind-bending combination of outrageous opacity and monumental mendacity.
To focus first on the opacity issue, Umno/BN employs its Official Secrets Act not, as it claims, and as the Act is properly intended, in the national interest, but to cover up the corruptions and sundry other crimes that regime members and cronies continually commit.
And, in clear contradiction of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s risible recent remark at the headquarters of one of his mouthpiece ‘news’ organisations, Utusan Malaysia, that ‘the media must play a role to assist the government in moving the country forward by reporting only the truth,’ the regime employs its so-called mainstream media in suppression of anything remotely resembling the truth.
Thus the few scandals that escape the net of Umno/BN-imposed secrecy and opacity via the international media, as in the current exposure by the Wall Street Journal of the massive 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fraud, are just the tip of the iceberg.
Or, if you prefer, as I once mentioned in another context, heistberg, the vast bulk of which remains a total mystery to the Malaysian people, despite their having the right to know everything about what the government is doing and how it is (mis)spending their money.
And news of any heists that do emerge are immediately greeted first with outright denial, and if that doesn’t work, with idiotic attempts at deceit.
Witness all the confusing and conflicting fictions that Najib, some of his ministers and other accomplices have managed to come up with to defuse the 1MDB fiasco and related RM2.6-billion ‘donation’ scandal, and now the far-fetched story by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that a sum of RM12 million raised privately by Malaysian citizens to ransom their kidnapped relatives has been ‘donated’ to some unnamed ‘Islamic charity’ in the Philippines.
There was a time when I was inclined to write-off Umno/BN’s moronic attempts to provide itself with alibis this inane if not outright insane. But then I realised that there’s method in this apparent madness, in that it is intended to not only boggle our minds but baffle our memories.
As former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad of all people appears to be aware, there are nothing like present mysteries to dim or even erase those of the past.
Thus, as he fondly hopes, Najib’s misleadership of Malaysia and misinformation of its citizens will be sufficient to cause us to misremember that it was Mahathir himself who laid the groundwork for most of the current mess.
And, more specifically, that mystifications created by Najib around such scandals as the Scorpene Submarines, the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, the second frame-up of Anwar Ibrahim and now 1MDB and the ‘donation’ will cause us to forget Mahathir’s long history of such mysteries as Ops Lalang, an endless string of financial scams that by some estimates cost Malaysia up to US$100 billion, and the first trumped-up trial of Anwar.
Not that Anwar doesn’t remain something of a mystery man himself. Considering that he spent so many years as Mahathir’s right-hand-man and understudy, he has been remarkably unforthcoming about the many mysterious goings-on he must have been party to, if not complicit in, in his time.
And surely, even though he’s in jail, Anwar must be at least partly responsible for the mysterious and mightily frustrating fact that the party he nominally heads, PKR, finds it impossible to work in partnership with the people’s other principal hope for replacing Umno/BN, the DAP.
A question that brings us to one current mystery that will be solved by the time you read this: whether the opposition can prevail in either or both of the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections.
Or, as such events have come to be known due to the blatant bribery inevitably practiced in them by Umno/BN with the mysterious approval of the electoral commission (EC), buy-elections.
Besides bribery, of course the results will also doubtless depend a good deal on whether enough voters are as mystified as they are surely intended to be by the unholy alliance that the pious PAS has apparently forged with the god-forsaken Umno/BN.
But speaking again of bribery, why anybody could bear to sell his or her vote to the regime at any price is the greatest mystery, considering how much better-off in every way every Malaysian will be when Umno/BN is finally history.