Can MO1 trump USO1?

That’s the burning question provoked by reports that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is scheduled to visit the White House to meet US President Donald Trump on September 12.

On the face of it, of course, this could be seen as just another in a series of the customary pilgrimages by the heads of small, insignificant nations to pay homage to the world’s most powerful personage.

And so it certainly is, at least to some extent. But Donald Trump is, to put it mildly, not your usual US President, and thus Najib possibly perceives him as a prospect for more than an exchange of the usual platitudes.

For example, the fact that Trump’s administration is under investigation for possible electoral collusion with Putin’s Russian regime probably gives Najib some hope of presidential sympathy for the fact that the US Department of Justice suspects him of complicity in massive money-laundering.

And thus some prospect that Trump, perceiving himself to be a victim of persecution, as he frequently claims to do, might feel a kind of felonious fellowship with Najib and extend him some help in dodging the attentions of the DOJ.

Not that Najib has ever himself admitted to being the ‘Malaysian Official 1’ (MO1) identified in the DOJ documents pertaining to allegations of money-laundering associated with the multi-billion-ringgit 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) swindle.

But nor has he ever given any indication of who else MO1 could possibly be, or why he summarily fired an attorney-general of Malaysia who showed signs of investigating the 1MDB matter, just as Trump similarly fired a head of the FBI for refusing to go easy on him.

Besides hoping that Trump will welcome him as a similarly put-upon partner in suspected crime, Najib also possibly hopes that he and his potential friend in the White House share common or at least somewhat similar interests in Saudi Arabia.

It was a rich Saudi prince, after all, from whom Najib claimed he had received a ‘donation’ of the billions of ringgit that investigators of 1MDB money-laundering activities discovered in his bank accounts, and Saudi Arabia was the first stop in the bizarre peace and arms-sales mission on which Trump embarked following his election to the presidency.

The Saudi connection ties-in perfectly, too, with Trump’s crusade against Islamic State, as Najib claimed that the princely ‘donation’ he received was in recognition for his strenuous efforts to combat IS.

Efforts that nobody else, as far as I know, has ever been aware of his making, diplomatically, militarily or otherwise. Quite the contrary, in fact, in light of his notorious call a couple of years ago to members of his Umno/BN regime to emulate the ‘spirit and courage of IS’ in their ‘struggle’ against the Malaysian opposition.

Najib’s false claims about ‘donations’, IS, and indeed everything else about which he ever makes public pronouncements, inevitably bring us to the core characteristic that he and Trump have in common, a propensity for pathological lying.

And, by extension, for characterizing any and every disagreement with their lies as ‘fake news’.

Though whether their shared antipathy to the truth will turn out to unite or divide them when they actually meet face-to-face for a discussion that is bound to stress the ‘con’ in conversation, remains to be seen.

My guess is that their mutual lying will prove as insuperable a barrier between them as will the other fatal character flaw they have in common, rampant narcissism.

Trump, I suspect, will despise Najib for clearly being not nearly as ‘great’ as himself, and for coming from a country that is not only less ‘great’ than the US, but contemptibly corrupt and suspiciously Islamic into the bargain.

In other words, he’ll come to the same proverbial conclusion about Najib as past US administrations have about other dubious third-world potentates, especially those so rash as to have relationships with enemies of the US, as Najib’s Malaysia so rashly does with North Korea, that ‘he may be a son of a bitch, but at least he’s our son of a bitch’.

And Najib will console himself that his people love him because he gives them signs to wave that say so; that at least the remaining hair he has on his head appears real; and that even if his First Lady may not as slim and blonde as Trump’s, Rosmah almost certainly has a far bigger collection of handbags and pink diamonds than Melania could possibly have.

But one thing I’m pretty sure Najib alias MO1 won’t get out of his forthcoming White House meeting is any reprieve from US investigations into his alleged 1MDB-related activities.

Because Trump or, if you prefer, USO1 is in a similar predicament, and it’s going to take enough of his time, energy and fakery to defend himself against charges of stealing the presidency, without having to support some third-world nobody in his efforts to beat what looks for all the world like an open-and-shut case of money-laundering.

 

 

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A bad week for fakewits.

Though there’s a long, long way to go before we can hope to defeat the dark forces of fake news and false views, a least we’ve had a few small wins against them this week.

In China, for example, the country that still fakes it as Communist despite having turned capitalist, remains a Party dictatorship despite claiming to be a ‘People’s’ Republic, and continues as ever to control its people with a system of fake news and secrecy, the state censors have been forced to make fools of themselves by banning not just Facebook and Twitter as usual, but now also internet mentions and images of Winnie the Pooh.

According to Australia’s ABC News website, netizens in China have been poking fun at President Xi Jinping by drawing attention to his striking resemblance to the famous ‘bear of little brain’. This has not impressed the powers that be, apparently, especially with the 19th Party Congress approaching.

Of course the banning of Winnie the Pooh will not make the slightest difference to Xi Jinnie the Pooh’s regime, let alone bring it down, but at least it will render it a little more of a laughing-stock both at home and abroad.

Though not so much a laughing-stock, I grant you, as Trump and his fellow fakewits have been making of themselves, their supporters and by extension the US in general every week for their past six months in the White House.

And especially this past week, with the firing of foul-mouthed fakewit Anthony Scaramucci from his job as Trump’s Chief of Staff just 10 days after he was hired.

Then came the Australian connection, with the publication of the transcript of a phone conversation that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had with Donald Trump shortly after he was installed in the Oval Office.

At the time Trump was widely criticized, at least by the Australian media, for his reportedly hostile treatment of Turnbull, and for allegedly angrily and abruptly ending the conversation.

But, while the transcript reveals all this to be true to a considerable extent, it also reveals Turnbull as something of a fakewit for having previously falsely represented his side of the conversation about the terms of a refugee-exchange deal previously made with former President Obama.

Turnbull and his immigration minister, Senator Peter Dutton, have long claimed that the deal wasn’t intended as some cynical, self-serving ‘people-swap’, and the transcript revealed that’s exactly what it was.

Both cynical and self-serving in that Turnbull and Dutton’s motives for making the deal clearly had everything to do with their political concerns, and little if any care for the well-being of the people who have so long languished in Australia’s dismal offshore detention centres.

If this revelation had been the only sign of fakewitedness in Australia’s Turnbull-led Liberal-National Coalition government lately, it probably wouldn’t have been terribly damaging to its prospects at the next election.

But coming as it did on top of a whole string of other political atrocities by the same team of fakewits, like their total failure to carry out sorely-needed reform of the nation’s tax system, their pig-headed denial of climate-change and consequent resistance to renewable energy, and their refusal to countenance a parliamentary vote on the issue of marriage equality, it might well prove the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s (kangaroo’s?) back.

As fakewitted as Australia’s conservatives calling themselves ‘Liberals’ can be, however, at least, as in the US, there are strong opponents, vigilant media and independent legal and other institutions to keep them relatively sensible.

But in Malaysia, now in its 60th year of unbroken misrule by Umno/BN, the system’s so fakewitted from top to bottom that even a financial fraud as massive as the 1Malaysia Development Fund (MDB) fiasco appears not to faze the regime, its cronies and supporters.

Nor, as far as I can see, does the fact that last week the decade-old Scorpene Submarines scandal resurfaced in the form of a bribery trial in the French courts.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, allegedly a key person of interest, if not a suspect, in both the 1MDB and Scorpene affairs, not to mention in the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu related to the latter of these, simply continues to blankly deny any involvement.

Meanwhile, Razak Baginda, originally a defendant in the Scorpene and Altantuya matters, but mysteriously discharged by the court on both counts, claims he hasn’t been charged with bribery by French authorities.

And who in Malaysia is about to call his bluff, if indeed that’s what it is? Not the fake police, who are still too busy falsely claiming that they’re investigating the 1MDB fraud. Not the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which claims it’s far too busy with other matters to even look into the recent allegation by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has unaccountably amassed assets of RM230 million.

In fact the MACC still apparently hasn’t found the time to question Mahathir about how he and at least some of his sons, along with countless other Umno/BN ministers, members and cronies, prospered so mightily during his 22 years as PM.

Nor, to my knowledge, have Malaysia’s fake mainstream media ever reported Mahathir’s key role in creating the appalling levels of financial, judicial, electoral, religious and racial fakery and fraud that he now claims to have repented to the extent that he opposes it all.

A claim that, as far as I’m concerned, anyone who had followed his career would have to be either an incurable optimist or a total fakewit to believe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I rest my case(s).

As I doubt you have any particular cause to recall, in my column last week I tried to argue for the crying need for us all to cultivate our critical thinking skills to better equip us to rationally resist the tsunami of fake news and views with which ruling regimes continually contrive to swamp our minds.

But I then went on to express the reservation that rationality appears to be powerless against the ‘passionately-expressed but patently false emotings of US President Donald Trump, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak or any of his mendacious paid mouthpieces, or the ravings of any of the world’s countless other misleaders.’

Or, in other words, as I went on to extend this thought ‘the very idea of dealing rationally with the verbal vomit such people constantly spew forth, and that their venal, vapid or utterly vacant supporters so eagerly lap-up, seems ridiculous to me.’

Such was the apparent lack of interest in this or anything else I had to say in the column that it drew only two comments. But, to my surprise and delight, both vividly illustrated the points I was at such pains to make.

In one comment, ‘The Analyser’, a critic of Malaysiakini articles and columns so ubiquitous and anally anti-Opposition that many readers rightly or wrongly consider him/her to be an Umno/BN stooge, seemed to largely agree with my first point.

‘Thank you for all the philosophising, but I think I’ll stick with the facts,’ he/she typically sarcastically wrote, but then, completely ignoring the question as to what these alleged ‘facts’ might be, went on to concede that ‘a tiny bit of political philosophy in Malaysia would go a long way to squashing the existing ideology of selfishness and greed.’

But The Analyser’s somewhat surprising support of my argument in favour of rational argument based on critical thinking was totally blown away by the only other comment on my column, which was a tour-de-force demonstration of why I have doubts that reason can ever prevail over unreason.

Some regular Malaysiakini reader and commentor posing as a cigar-chomping ‘Tony Soprano’ provided as compelling proof of philosopher David Hume’s proposition that passion can trump reason as even the current U.S. President or Malaysian Prime Minister or any of such peoples’ spokespersons could be capable of.

Not that I have the slightest intention of, or feel I have any justification for, attacking ‘Tony Soprano’ personally, you understand.

In fact quite the opposite, if anything, considering that all the comments I’ve read that he’s made at Malaysiakini in the past have left me with the impression that he’s as disgusted with the Umno/BN regime as I am, and thus, at least on the proverbial ‘my enemy’s enemy’ principle, a friend.

But unfortunately my attempts last week at a rational argument against the possibility of Trump’s ever realizing his incessantly-trumpeted intention to ‘make America great again’ appear to have turned ‘Tony’ from friend to fiend.

Or, more specifically, by mentioning just a few of the recent and/or current apparent lapses from greatness on the part of the U.S., I’ve so offended his sense of patriotism as to provoke him to reason-killing rage or what the shrinks call an ‘Amygdala rush’.

Here, to save you the trouble of looking it up from a week back, is how this ‘Tony Soprano’ hissy-fit went, with my own brief notes in square brackets:

‘Another America-bashing Commonwealth citizen who’s undoubtedly not spent any time in the U.S. [False] It is a great country [Any evidence at all?]; making it great ‘again’ is merely another misleading Trumpian slogan. Two-thirds of the gun deaths are either accidents or suicides [But still deaths, right?] Meanwhile violent crime has been declining drastically since 1993. I live in a very safe and friendly city of 500,000 [Bully for you. But your point is??] Trump is Trump and wasn’t even elected by absolute votes [Just like Najib, in fact, in GE13]. In case you’re not aware [as if anyone could not be], the checks and balances are closing around him [S-l-o-w-l-y]. As for the Vietnam War, you can go back in history as far as you want. [Not very far, is it? With one of its chief war criminals, the mad bomber of Laos and Cambodia, Henry Kissinger, still alive? Or is the U.S. re-writing its history Malaysia-style?] China annexed Tibet in 1950. China murdered millions of its own citizens even up to 1989. Many of her prisoners are POLITICAL [Yes, but what on earth does this have to do with the alleged greatness of America?]. How could you be so epistemologically immature [???] as to miss that point? Australia is notorious for its outrageous treatment of boat people and other refugees. [True. In fact for this and many other reasons I loathe Australia’s current government almost as much as America’s] Indian students were afraid to apply to your universities due to a spate of violent attacks. [Fake news. It was only in Melbourne, and the attacks were on employees of 711 stores, most of whom happened to be Indian] You forgot to mention all that.’

As I’m sure you clearly see without even reading my comments on it, far from removing or disproving any doubts that America is ‘great’, whatever that supposedly means, this ‘Tony Soprano’ diatribe, like similarly irrational ‘arguments’ in favour of Malaysia’s Umno/BN and sundry other false and crooked regimes, only serves support my thesis that fakery, finger-pointing and other passionately-employed propaganda techniques can be highly confusing and even convincing.

Or, in short, as everybody knows and I’ve endlessly repeated previously, bullshit has a way of baffling brains. And the fact that today we’re apparently faced with more phoney facts, fake news and views and other forms of bullshit than ever before is the most compelling possible case for us citizens to all think as critically as we can.

 

 

 

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Trump goes air con.

It’s been perfectly obvious for years now that this brain-dead big-noter and blowhard pretending to be president of the U.S.  is nothing but a windbag full of metaphorical hot air.

But now he’s being revealed as not just figuratively but literally bursting with and blowing hot air, as air-conditioner manufacturer Carrier proceeds to export to Mexico hundreds of jobs that he claimed during the campaign that he had made a deal to save for U.S. workers.

Admittedly this air con is just a trifle compared with his ongoing foreign-affair con involving alleged collusion with Putin’s rotten Russian regime to help himself achieve the presidency, or, for that matter, his airy rejection of the Paris Accord against climate change on the grounds that he’s a denier that global warming has anything to do with the combustion of fossil fuels.

But as far as I’m concerned, the more this airhead does to reveal himself to even his dangerously deluded supporters that he’s nothing but a fossil and a fool, the sooner his stupid example will serve as a global warning to citizens of both the U.S. and other relatively free countries to be far more discerning in the deployment of their votes.

Or, in other words, maybe in so dismally and disastrously failing to deliver on his fake promise to make American great again, Trump might inspire all of us, everywhere, to make more strenuous efforts toward improving ourselves and our governments, if only by default, in response to his dreadful example.

 

 

 

 

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Another dose of academia.

A couple of semesters ago, sick of inflicting pain on my brain for what seemed diminishing gain, I took a break from my Sydney University course with little or no intention of ever resuming it.

As I recall thinking at the time, I was too old and tired to ever hope to achieve more than the ‘little learning’ that Alexander Pope proverbially deplored as a ‘dangerous thing’, let alone to aspire to the paradoxical Socratic ideal of knowing so much as to know only that I knew nothing.

But at least, or so I consoled myself, the part of my degree that I’d completed had equipped me with enough skepticism to last me the rest of my life.

Every successive unit I’d done of Gender Studies had even further confirmed my initial suspicion that, however productively thought-provoking this course may have been in many ways, it was far too polemical if not outright propagandist to be considered properly or in other words open-mindedly academic.

And my admittedly limited expeditions into Philosophy had been similarly disconcerting, revealing as they did that, as Descartes 1596-1620) both declared and in my humble opinion amply demonstrated in his own work, ‘there is nothing so strange or so unbelievable that it has not been said by one philosopher or another’.

Even Plato, the philosopher that many consider the greatest of them all, at least in the Western tradition, deviated at times from truth-seeking philosophy into the false sophistry he otherwise claimed to deplore and despise, as in his advocacy of the so-called ‘Noble Lie’ that people were born with divinely-determined roles in society, and that ‘justice’ decreed that they remain in these roles under the rule of a class of ‘Philosopher Kings’ in his purportedly utopian ‘Republic’.

And Plato’s almost equally-esteemed pupil Aristotle, famously, or rather infamously, made the outrageous and utterly unsupported statement in his otherwise largely admirable Nicomachean Ethics that Greeks are superior to non-Greeks, and men superior to women and slaves.

For all their faults, however, Plato, Aristotle and most other philosophers both Western and Eastern have been rank amateurs when it comes to inventing lies, be they ‘noble’, ignoble or downright evil, compared with power-freaks with not a thought in their heads but to seize and hold power over as many of the ‘common’ people as possible.

And thus it behoves all of us, Greeks, non-Greeks, men and women alike, to refuse to be treated by such misleaders as slaves, or else a ‘silent majority’ of passive ‘citizens’, but as highly vocal and active critizens devoted to exposing and rejecting their lies.

A thought that leads me to my rationale for deciding to subject myself to yet another dose of academia, the lure of a Philosophy unit at Sydney University, code number PHIL2642, called Critical Thinking.

This, according to its description in the Arts Faculty Handbook, is ‘an introduction to critical thinking and analysis of argument. By examining arguments drawn from diverse sources, including journalism, advertising, science, medicine, history, economics and politics, we will learn how to distinguish good from bad arguments, and how to construct rationally persuasive arguments of our own. Along the way we will grapple with skepticism, conspiracy theories and pseudoscience. The reasoning skills imparted by this unit make it invaluable not only for philosophy students but for every student at the university.’

And also, as I said earlier, for every citizen who prefers critizenship to enslavement.

Let me not get too carried away with my expectations for this Critical Thinking unit, however. One fundamental problem with it that you were doubtless way ahead of me in spotting, is that, like most philosophy, it focuses on ‘rationally’ rather than emotionally persuasive arguments.

As if David Hume (1711-1776) hadn’t centuries ago made it clear, as if it wasn’t always so, that ‘reason is the slave of the passions’.

A truth that must be grimly self-evident to anyone who has imagined, let alone actually tried, rationally arguing against the passionately-expressed but patently false emotings of U.S. President Donald Trump, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak or any of his mendacious paid mouthpieces, or the ravings of any of the world’s countless other misleaders.

And not only are these peoples’ statements a pack of rationally-unarguable irrational lies, but many of the individual words they use are riddled with falsehood.

Is there any way of rationally comprehending, let alone of rationally countering, whatever Trump might possibly mean by claiming his intention to make American ‘great’ again?

Admittedly the ‘again’ bit is rationally arguable, at least by those of us who recall such gruesome lapses of the U.S. from greatness as, for example, the Vietnam War that cost President Lyndon Johnson his promised ‘Great Society’; the catastrophic levels of gun ownership that continually cost the country many times more casualties than terrorism or even wars; the shocking rates of poverty in the world’s richest country; and imprisonment rates that would be a disgrace to a totalitarian state like China, or, more accurately Chaina, let alone to the alleged ‘Land of the Free’.

But ‘great’? The only response Trump’s utterance of this word evokes in me is the urge to lampoon it by pretending to hear and read it as ‘grate’.

As in yes, Trump sure does grate on me, to a truly great extent, in much the same way as Najib Abdul Razak of Malaysia does with his mindlessly mendacious employment of the word ‘one’, as in his ‘1Malaysia’, whatever it supposedly signifies, and everything else he says and does.

But the very idea of dealing rationally with the verbal vomit such people constantly spew forth, and that their venal, vapid or utterly vacant supporters so eagerly lap-up, seems ridiculous to me.

I could be mistaken, however, and in fact I hope I am, and that PHIL2642 Critical Thinking may well prove a very pleasant surprise.

In case not, however, I’ve enrolled in a back-up dose of academia in the form of ANTH2653, partly because the lecturer is one of my favourites from way back, and also because Anthropology is a welcome change from the Eurocentricity of most other Western university disciplines.

Plus, into the bargain, this particular unit promises to provide me with lots of rational arguments, both rational and even perhaps otherwise, against one of my other personal pet hates besides political lying and criminality: the further elevation of greed over need and thus the rich over the rest, or in other words neo-liberalism.

 

 

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We are all Chainese.

Like so many famous rhetorical flourishes that come to be regarded as self-evident truths, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s ringing declaration that ‘man is born free, and is everywhere in chains’ is, on careful consideration, ridiculous.

In fact the reality is entirely the opposite. We are all born in chains – chains of genetic inheritance, of infantile ignorance and impotence, and of the familial, physical, cultural, political and other environmental circumstances in which we find ourselves – and can either submit to being constrained by such chains or struggle against them to try and set ourselves as free as possible.

And this state of affairs seems to me to be nowhere more evident than in China, or what I prefer to think of as Chaina on the grounds that its people have been enchained throughout history by an endless series of dismal dictatorships.

Mostly imperial dictatorships, of course, but currently by a Communist Party as dictatorial as any emperor could possibly be, and into the bargain so deceptive as to try and pass itself off as the ‘People’s’ Republic of China.

When the people protest, however, it quickly reverts to the Party’s Republic of Chaina, as it did on the occasion of the notorious massacre of protesting students and workers in Tiananmen Square in 1989, and again following the publication of Charter 08 on 10 December 2008, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Liu Xiaobo, a hero of Tiananmen Square who had subsequently sought and found sanctuary in the U.S. before courageously returning to China/Chaina to co-author Charter 08, was sentenced in 2009 by the regime to 11 years’ imprisonment for ‘inciting subversion of state power.’

And today, as I write this, it has been reported that Liu has died in prison of cancer after being refused permission to seek treatment overseas for his illness.

Here, courtesy of Wikipedia, in honoured memory of Liu Xiaobo and in support of his fellow activists against the Communist-Party overlords of the Anti-People’s Republic of Chaina, is the first paragraph of Charter 08, followed by a list of its demands of the regime:

‘This year is the 100th year of China’s Constitution, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 30th anniversary of the birth of the Democracy Wall, and the 10th year since China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. After experiencing a prolonged period of human rights disasters and a tortuous struggle and resistance, the awakening Chinese citizens are increasingly and more clearly recognizing that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal common values shared by all humankind, and that democracy, a republic, and constitutionalism constitute the basic structural framework of modern governance. A “modernization” bereft of these universal values and this basic political framework is a disastrous process that deprives humans of their rights, corrodes human nature, and destroys human dignity. Where will China head in the 21st century? Continue a “modernization” under this kind of authoritarian rule? Or recognize universal values, assimilate into the mainstream civilization, and build a democratic political system? This is a major decision that cannot be avoided.’

  1. Amending the Constitution.
  2. Separation of powers.
  3. Legislative democracy.
  4. An independent judiciary.
  5. Public control of public servants.
  6. Guarantee of human rights.
  7. Election of public officials.
  8. Abolition of Hukou system.
  9. Freedom of association.
  10. Freedom of assembly.
  11. Freedom of expression.
  12. Freedom of religion.
  13. Civic education.
  14. Free marketsand protection of private property, including privatizing state enterprises and land.
  15. Financial and tax reform.
  16. Social security.
  17. Protection of the environment.
  18. A federated republic.
  19. Truth in reconciliation.

Of course China’s by no means alone in the world in urgently needing many if not all of these reforms for the sake of good government and honest governance on behalf of its citizens.

Malaysia, for example, enchained as it has been for almost 60 years by its corrupt and otherwise criminal Umno/BN regime, has a crying need for items 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 19.

And great many other nations, from Russia, Pakistan and all the other –stans to a great many more similarly freedom-impaired countries in Asia, Africa and South America could do with many if not most of them.

My own country, Australia, could perform much better, in my opinion, on points 6, 11, 13 and 15. And of course the U.S., as the self-proclaimed world leader in government of the people, by the people, for the people, could well do itself and the rest of the free world a favour by electing a president capable of thinking coherently and telling or at least tweeting the truth.

But to end on a personal level, it’s worth making the point that we’re all of us part of the problem and thus capable of making ourselves part of the solution.

In other words, whether Chinese or whatever other   nationality or ethnicity we happen to be, we are all chainees of various false ‘faiths’, ‘beliefs’, ‘customs’, prejudices and other mental bonds and restrictions that prevent our living to our full human potential.

And thus we owe it to ourselves and our fellows to progressively throw off the chains we’re born with, or into, or shackled with by ‘authorities’ hell-bent on ruling or controlling us for their own benefit, and seize our freedom to become the truest and best versions of ourselves that we possibly can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

    

 

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World’s worst whodunit.

One of my favourite ways of avoiding or at least postponing the hard work of writing is compulsive reading. Reading as much informative, thought-inspiring or otherwise ‘improving’ stuff as the mind can stand, and alternating that with something lighter, like crime.

But pretty well only fictional crime, or in other words whodunits, and only whodunits by a select coterie of masters and mistresses of the art like, to name just a few of the usual suspects, Georges Simenon, P.D. James, Colin Dexter, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy L. Sayers, Arthur Conan-Doyle and Agatha Christie.

Though I have, I have to confess, enjoyed quite a few factual accounts of crime, detection and punishment, like, for example, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song. And I recently re-read Neil Sheehan’s brilliant but almost unbearably depressing account of the shocking crime known as the Vietnam War, A Bright Shining Lie.

But, as accurately as it may be reported around the world by news sources as trustworthy as the Wall Street Journal, the Sarawak Report, Malaysiakini and many others, I just can’t cop the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) whodunit any longer.

Firstly, of course, because it’s so unbelievably long, with apparently no end in sight.

Then there’s the fact that it’s not really a whodunit at all, as the identities of a great many of the suspects in this massive swindle and international money-laundering case have been evident for months if not years, and even the name of the mastermind is glaringly obvious despite his being habitually referred to by the alias ‘Malaysian Official 1 (MO1).

With the details of the crime, the principal criminals and their modus operandi long common knowledge as a result of investigations by not just some imaginary literary sleuth, but the U. S. Department of Justice and similar authorities in numerous other jurisdictions around the world, it’s certainly not much of a mystery any more.

Except, apparently, to the institutions of so-called government and law-and-order in Malaysia, which continue to stick to the countless outrageous fictions they, their advisors and fake journalists have invented about the whole affair, and in doing so have become accessories to the crime.

As I said above, I really can’t bear the boredom of following their stupid plot, from the totally unbelievable alibi by MO1 for having billions of ringgit in his personal bank account to the effect that some rich Saudi prince had sent him a donation, to any of the subsequent proposed explanations.

But I couldn’t help noticing this week that Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is still sticking to the tired old tale that the entire 1MDB scandal is part of some international conspiracy being conducted against Malaysia and its Allah-chosen Umno/BN regime.

In an address to a meeting of the Umno Batu Pahat division, Zahid warned of ‘enemies out there’ using issues such as the U.S. Department of Justice’s 1MDB-linked civil suit as ‘bullets to shoot at Umno’ and thus cause ‘loss of faith in Malaysia’s institutions of leadership’.

It would hardly take a Sherlock Holmes to discern what a load of rubbish this was, especially in light of Zahid’s many previous essays into crime fiction, most notably his story in a letter to the FBI some time ago that a major Malaysian illegal-gambling suspect should be released from custody on the grounds that his freedom was important to the Malaysian government.

Meanwhile, another Umno/BN master of crime and fiction, Inspector-General of police Khalid Abu Bakar was busy slamming Sarawak Report for ‘cooking up’ a story ‘to create suspicion among the community against the police’.

In response to an allegation by the website that K. Gopinathan, a key suspect in a graft investigation, had made 36 phone calls in the space of two months to Saiful Azly Kamaruddin, head of the investigating anti-vice, gaming and gangsterism task force, Khalid himself cooked-up the most stupid story I’ve heard or read for some time.

‘A lot of people have called me every day, just to wish me “good morning, sir, how are you today?” and wishing me well. I (think I have received) hundreds of calls every morning. Is that suspicious? You can check my phone and make an analysis from it,’ he reportedly declared.

‘If you want to say that calls are something suspicious, well, I have commented about this and don’t want to entertain (anymore),’ he continued, adding that ‘Sarawak Report has made up a non-sensible story.’

All of which, and much, much more in a similar vein week after weary week, goes to explain why I vastly prefer my crime fiction to be created by experts in the genre, and thus at least somewhat credible. And have become so heartily sick of the unbelievable nonsense invented by the alleged criminals themselves in the whodunit with the world’s biggest cast and worst plot, Umno/BN’s Malaysia.

 

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