I’ve long been puzzled by the fact that, whenever Malaysiakini publishes straight-faced reports of Umno/BN-regime figures making fools of themselves, there are always a few readers who complain.
For example, a recent article entitled ‘Rosmah: we are attracted to macho men’ drew several carping comments along the lines of ‘I did not pay for this trash’, ‘I din pay to read this kind of purile (sic) stuff’, and ‘People pay huge sum of money for your subscription for good reasons. More quality stuff please.’
While having no doubt that these complainants’ hearts are in the right place, I can’t help feeling that they’re wrong-headed in their failure to get the whole point of Malaysiakini’s apparent purpose, which is to give Umno/BN spokespersons the opportunity and space to satirise themselves, however unwittingly, in their very own words.
A project that not only saves lots of an already very busy editorial team’s time and energy, but also has the virtue of being unquestionably accurate, as the victims’ words are quoted verbatim, often by regime’s very own official source of ‘news’, Bernama.
Or, to put this another way, there’s no more effective method of ridiculing people who have forgotten the old adage variously attributed to Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln that ‘it’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt,’ than by faithfully reporting their risible remarks.
Remarks like those recently made by self-styled First Lady of Malaysia Rosmah Mansor to some group of people peddling health and beauty products as reported in the article that some readers, as mentioned above, deemed too trivial for words.
But the very triviality if not outright irrelevance of the event was of course part of its purpose, which, as with so many Umno/BN-sponsored activities, was doubtlessly to divert public attention from more substantive issues.
Issues like the seemingly endless saga of the alleged massive 1Malaysia Development Berhad swindle, for example, not to mention lesser subsequent scandals surrounding the financial affairs of Felda Global Ventures (FGV), and more recently the adventures of Mara in the Melbourne real-estate market.
What more effective if all-too-fleeting diversion could there be from all such ugliness than an opportunity to make a few observations about beauty?
But exclusively female beauty, not male, according to Rosmah, who claimed in her speech to the group of pulchritude peddlers that she doesn’t understand why men want to be handsome, as she and presumably other women ‘prefer macho men, not those with soft skin.’
If she intended this remark about macho men to evoke the image of her husband Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in her audience’s or us readers’ minds, surely she couldn’t have been more mistaken.
But she employed it anyway, for the purpose of switching to the topic of her hubby in order to make the claim that ‘contrary to popular belief, she is controlled by Najib’, not the other way around.
Call me cynical, but I strongly suspect that this attempt to rebut the persistent perception that she is the power behind the PM was inspired by Zimbabwe’s army-dominated ZANU-PF regime’s recent removal of its puppet president Robert Mugabe on the grounds that his wife ‘Gucci’ Grace had persuaded him to sack his vice president and long-time enforcer Emmerson Mnangagwa and thus position herself as president-in waiting.
But whatever, Rosmah played her little-woman story as hard as she could, declaring to ‘those who say that I control Datuk (Najib)’ that ‘it’s not true, he is the one who controls me.’
‘Even when I tell him that I’m unwell, he tells me “I don’t care if you have coughs or a fever, you just show up in front of the audience”,’ she added.
But of course Rosmah was far from the only personage engaging in self-satire this past week. Najib was hard at work making it a family affair, rendering a banquet for the Wives of Barisan Nasional Elected Representatives a sure-fire satire of Umno/BN-regime nepotism by presenting an award to the Welfare Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti), the ‘charity’ that is lavishly funded with public money, and of which his spouse just happens to be president.
And unsurprisingly, after handing her the award, he treated the assembled throng to a series of blindingly self-evident remarks like that ‘the wives of BN elected representatives should adopt a friendly approach to the people,’ and ‘their charity work is meaningful for the BN government.’
He then went on to implicitly deny the regime’s involvement in a ceaseless series of alleged massive corruptions and sundry other crimes and incompetencies by claiming that the BN government was ‘doing good for the people but was not appreciated’ and thus ‘it was the wives’ job to support their husbands.’
And finally he achieved the ultimate in Umno/BN-syle self-satire by repeating the endless regime refrain that’s so fake as to be worthy of even such a world-class self-satirist as current and I trust temporary US President Donald Trump: ‘leaders often have to face lies that must be countered with facts to correct the people’s perception.’
But Trump, Najib and Rosmah weren’t the only exponents of self-satire in action this past week. Those perennial Umno/BN-regime bad jokes, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, Bung Moktar Radin and Rais Yatim were hard at it too.
The double Tengku, aka Ku Nan, made a spectacle of himself in a speech at the Nadi Negara awards ceremony for students in which he claimed to have been converted from his former life of ‘foya-foya’ (which I gather means something like ‘luxury fun’) by a call from Allah to serve Umno, and to be mystified by the fact that some students have the gross ingratitude to be critical of the very regime that ‘gives’ them their education.
‘We are not a perfect government,’ he concluded, in what must be a leading contender for understatement of the year, ‘but (let us) trust in the leadership of today under Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak. He is ready to make change.’
But whether he meant ‘change’ as in ‘difference’ or ‘change’ as in the small change possibly remaining from the countless billions allegedly still looted from 1MDB, he didn’t say.
But Bung Moktar was more specific when, taking a break from persistently satirizing himself as Umno/BN’s resident sexist and satyr, he suggested that Malaysian authorities should follow the dirty example of Philippines president Duterte and shoot drug traffickers, as if the Malaysian police didn’t already kill more than enough ‘suspects’ in their custody or alleged ‘shoot-outs’. While Amin Rais, so-called socio-cultural affairs adviser to the Malaysian ruling regime, engaged in his own highly-successful attempt at self-satire by proposing that Malay be adopted as the official language of ASEAN.
Many Malaysiakini readers responded to this ridiculous suggestion by observing that it would hardly make sense for a great many ASEAN members, including Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and to a great extent the Philippines.
And in any event, in my personal opinion, ASEAN never seems to discuss any issue of the lightest importance or relevance in whatever language(s) it uses.
In conclusion, I consider this to have been a great week for watching the liars, loonies, fakes and frauds of Malaysia’s ever-misruling Umno/BN regime wallowing in self-satire, or in other words sending themselves up something rotten.
And I’m as grateful as ever to the management and staff of Malaysiakini for enable us to witness this appalling spectacle in all its woeful detail and in its participants’ own witless words.