Step up to citizenship..and critizenship.

Don’t get me wrong: I love my 23-year-old daughter and her friends to bits, and admire them for how much street-smarter and better-educated than I was at their age. But I’m also extremely disappointed that, having long outgrown their childhoods and adolescences as trainee or apprentice citizens, or, if you prefer, as kiddizens and then zitizens, many of them have thus far failed to seize or even understand their rights, let alone their responsibilities as completely adult citizens.

Not that I’m really concerned that they’ll remain nit-witizens for very long, yet alone for life as so many apparently adult alleged citizens so doltishly do.

My daughter, for example, has started studying towards her ambition to become a civil-rights lawyer.  So, like her half-brother, my elder son, who, following his early career as a barrister in Sydney, and his admission to the bar in both New York and London, now specialises in internet and corporate law, she will probably soon know more about citizenship than I could ever hope to.

Meanwhile, however, I can’t help seeing her sense of general outrage at what she sees as society’s  countless unfairnesses and injustices as largely wasted. Because, while she resolutely exercises her right to vote, as a great many nit-witizens in Australia and other relatively democratic countries don’t bother doing, thus enabling the election of the dreadful Donald Trump as President of the US, for example, and the thus-far 60-year rule of the criminally corrupt and incompetent Umno/BN regime in Malaysia, she has very little idea of who or what she’s voting for or against, or why.

Because she, along with a great many of her friends and other contemporaries, apparently has very little idea of how the Australian or any other government works, or fails to work, and is also unaware of the fact that, as stated in Article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (see  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Documents/UDHR_Translations/eng.pdf), citizenship comes not just with rights, but responsibilities.

For instance, every citizen’s right to be informed about government and other activities affecting his or her life by means of free and independent news media comes with the responsibility to keep him- or herself thus sufficiently informed as to vote intelligently.

But so far my daughter avoids the news like the plague for the reason that she finds it depressing to a literally pathological degree.

And I have to admit that I sympathise with her in this, as my virtually life-long addiction to the local and world news, plus 12 years of following the ever-more-depressing news about Malaysia’s kleptocracy sufficiently closely as to enable myself to write a column criticising it for one of the that country’s pitifully few sources of true and independent news and views, Malaysiakini, have proven major factors in my own periodic descents into depression.

But I also find that, besides the occasional resort to anti-depressants, as currently, the doing of my duty as a citizen that arises from my rights both to be informed by free media and to engage in free speech, not just orally and thus ineffectually in the pub, cafe or some other bull-session venue, but in writing for this blog or anywhere else I can get my rants published, engaging in criticism is a powerful antidote to despondency.

In other words (an expression that I’m conscious of using far too often, and therefore should probably employ for the title of the next column some publication offers me), I find active critizenship far more self-empowering and uplifting to my spirits than the practice of merely passive citizenship.

And I hope my lawyer-to-be daughter soon discovers this secret for herself, just as my veteran lawyer son long ago did, as evidenced by his book ‘lipstick on a Pig’ and his blog at http://www.sdj-pragmatist.blogspot.com

Similarly, my wife, formerly totally news-averse as a result of living the first 23 years of her life in Malaysia, and thus having only the ruling regime’s lying so-called ‘mainstream’ media to depend on for (mis)information, has finally had to confront much of the bad news head on in order to write her PhD thesis on aspects of Government and International Relations.

In summary, there’s no better remedy for feelings of ill-informed, impotent rage at the misdeeds of governments, bureaucracies, corporations and other potentially predatory and repressive organisations, and no more powerful protection against the ultimate penalty of nit-witizenship, namely being fleeced and otherwise flocked along with the rest of the citizensheep, than to practice citizenship to the point of critizenship.

And I hope for my darling daughter’s sake that she makes this discovery much earlier in life than I did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Third-country or turd-country solution?

Pardon my French, as they say, but surely no four-letter word could be as objectionable as the so-called third-country solution that both the Australian Lieberal-led Coal-ition and Hard Labor Party insist is the only possible way to put an end to the plight of asylum seekers who can’t sent back to the countries they fled from, and thus have spent years in Australian ‘detention’, or in other words prison-camps, for want of anywhere else to go.

Admittedly, despite determined resistence from Donald Trump, the US has accepted some of these poor devils for resettlement there, and I’m delighted that they’ve been so fortunate as to end up in a relatively civilised country.

But Malcolm Turnbull has rejected out of hand the possibility of some more of them being sent to the even more civilised, given its far-higher place than the US and indeed Australia in the world press-freedom and relative freedom-from-corruption rankings, New Zealand.

But all the other third countries that have been proposed for their resettlement have been utterly – forgive me again – actually turd countries. Or, more accurately, they are perfectly lovely countries cursed with totally crappy incumbent governments.

Countries like Malaysia, for example, which Labor was very keen on as a destination for asylum-seekers when it was in power, but whose ugly Umno/BN regime is not only arguably as shocking a transgressor of human rights as those of many of the countries the asylum-seekers have fled, but into the bargain has a terrible record of tolerating if not actually participating in people-trafficking.

Then the Coal-ition came up with the even more shitty suggestion of Cambodia, Kampuchea or whatever it calls itself these days, and paid the rotten, repressive Hun Sen-led regime there $200 million to accept our unwanted asylum-seekers. But a mere three of them agreed to be sent there, and all three have since left for destinations they consider less shitty.

How  many if any of the remainder left languishing in limbo have chosen or will eventually choose to accept resettlement in the other turd country that seems prepared, and has doubtless been paid, to take at least some of them, Papua-New Guinea, I have no idea.

But a series of shootings and bashings that have been directed against them there would seem to suggest that they would hardly feel welcome.

So I and many of my fellow Australian citizens who have no faith whatever in either any third country, let alone turd country, to provide the solution to the plight of these people that, in stark contravention of international treaties as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, our two major political parties are determined to keep persecuting, are left with no choice but to vote for a more merciful alternative.

As I’ve personally been doing for years on this and a whole slew of other issues without any discernible result thus far. But hope springs eternal, as they say. Perhaps eventually those will be enough of us who give a damn about Australia’s alleged freedom and fairness to vote the Greens or some other respectable political party into a position in which it can wield the balance of power.

Or, in other words, where they can be such an influential third party that, in matters like how to properly treat helpless asylum-seekers, not to mention our atrociously-abused environment, they can hold sway over the morally and ethically-challenged Labor, Lieberal and National turd parties.

 

 

 

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This insanitary government has to go.

I see that the Australian Labor Party is promising that if it wins the next federal election it will immediately exempt tampons and other female sanitary products from the GST.

A move toward gender fairness that the current Lieberal-led Coal-ition government has been bloody-mindedly refusing to make throughout its period in office.

So let’s fondly hope that a new Labor government will also clean-up all the other inane, insane and outright insanitary situations that the Coal-ition has either created or persisted with too.

Like, first of all, the insistence by the con as in conservative wing of the current regime that has resolutely, and against all reason,firmly kept the coal in Coal-ition by refusing to advance Australia toward a clean, cheaper, renewable-energy future.

Then there’s the bank-robbery situation. If we citizens rob banks, as many of us, especially we seniors serving rest-of-life sentences on the pitiful age pension of around $20,000 a year are often sorely tempted to do, we’d be very quickly condemned to long-term residence in the slammer at a cost to the community  per prisoner of $100,000 per year.

Yet when the managements and staffs of banks and other financial institutions rob us customers, as the current royal commission into their antics is revealing that they’ve been systematically doing for decades, they get away either totally or virtually scot-free. And, to add insult to injury, most of them get to keep both their jobs and their obscenely generous ‘performance’ bonuses.

Meanwhile, the con as in conservatives scramble to convince the voters that they’ve been proactive in legislating for new penalties, which they can’t, of course, apply retrospectively, and when in fact they bitterly opposed the setting-up of the royal commission for years, and under Abbott slashed the budget of the regulator, ASIC, to the point that it was so ASICk as to be utterly ineffectual.

So ineffectual, in fact, as to have achieved the pitiful result of just one single solitary criminal conviction and four successful civil suits in the past 10 years.

Meanwhile, Turnbull, a former banker, and his group of con as in conservative fellow wankers, must have been so well aware of the banks’ and the AMP’s continuing record of robberies that they should be considered accessories to, if not accomplices in these formerly suspected and now confessed crimes.

The same Lieberal-led Coal-ition ministers and members have also been parties to or at least passive observers of the massive looting of Murray-Darling water by big (or pig?) irrigators, and the wholesale theft of public funds and the swindling of countless students by rogue ‘colleges’ clearly specifically set up to profiteer from the privatisation, or rather piratisation, of technical and further education.

But will Labor go after these Coal-ition crooks if, and as I fondly hope when we electorally eject them from power? I very much doubt it, as many opposition personnel are by no means entirely innocent either.

But then, as an alleged democracy, Australia supposedly has a politically-independent federal police force and a similarly-independent judiciary. So what are these people waiting for?

Perhaps another of the advances that I and my fellow Australian fans of fairness and justice for all have been calling for, and that the Coal-ition has been conning us that we don’t need, a national commission against corruption and other similarly insanitary offences.

 

 

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Pro – and con – crastination, revisted.

If you’ve been following this blog, for which I’ve been meaning to get around to thanking you, whoever you are and how lowbrow your literary tastes, you’ll be aware that it’s about a week since I posted anything here.

Not that I haven’t intended to. But I procrastinated for so long before starting, and then before finishing it, that it’s still not quite completed.

Hence I’m resorting to the desperate measure of putting up something old. Nearly nine years old, in fact, and, as you might suspect if you get around to reading it, originally written as a column for the first and still foremost of Malaysia’s pitifully few sources of independent news and views, Malaysiakini.

So, while lots of Malaysians may possibly have seen it before, people in other, more press-free parts of the world probably haven’t. So, in case you can be bothered, and in the hope that it helps you put off performing some other chore you’d rather delay or even entirely avoid, here it is:

Are you sure you’re ready to tackle this column right now? Absolutely positive you haven’t something more pressing to do before you start reading the thing, like I tried convincing myself that I had before writing it? No seemingly petty but nonetheless imperative tasks to perform first, like having a coffee or two, consulting your horoscope for the day, answering a few emails, visiting a couple of your favourite websites and breaking for an early lunch like I did? No? You’re really, truly ready to roll?

There’s no rush, you know. So if you’re thinking how much fresher and more mentally alert you’d feel if you paused for a quick shower before you settle down to concentrate on what I have to say; or how much faster this site might load if you defragmented your PC before proceeding, go right ahead.

I honestly don’t mind waiting. I’ve procrastinated so long in producing this piece that a delay of another few minutes, hours or even days before you start perusing it won’t make the slightest difference. In any case, if and when you do get around to reading it right through, then you’ll be stuck with the task of dreaming-up some other way to delay tackling whatever tiresome task you’re keen to put off.

‘Procrastination’, as my dictionary reveals now that I’ve finally taken the trouble to consult it on the subject, derives from a combination of the Latin words ‘pro’ (forward) and ‘crastinus’ (tomorrow). No rush to finish this today, then.

So I’ve been taking time out for a little light Googling. One site I’ve stumbled on, procrastinationhelp.com, reveals a report by researchers Tim Pychyl and Jennifer Lavoie that 47% of the time spent by people online is for the specific purpose of work-avoidance.

I could have told them that, though their figure of 47% seems a bit on the low side from what I’ve observed over the years of my own behaviour and that of my colleagues in various offices in which I’ve been paid to put off doing some work.

As I see on quotegarden.com and other sites I must someday get around to bookmarking, lots of famous people have made decidedly disapproving remarks about postponing what needs to be done.

“Procrastination is the thief of time,” for example, which I recall was a favourite of my old school Latin master and which, given his unaccountable enthusiasm for dead languages, I assumed to be a translation of a line by Ovid or one of those other ancient Romans who dedicated their careers to making future generations of schoolboys miserable. But no, it was an English poet named Edward Young, apparently, who uttered the immortal line in 1742.

A few Romans reputedly did proclaim on the topic of procrastination, however. The poet Horace for one, who wrote, in Latin of course: “Seize the day! Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; make the most of what you have. It is later than you think.” But this seems ambiguous to me, in that it could equally mean either seize the day and get something done, or seize the day, forget work for now and have fun doing some random surfing.

Decidedly unambiguous, however, was Roman statesman Cicero’s stern statement that “in the conduct of almost every affair, slowness and procrastination are hateful”. Other similarly negative remarks on the subject include “You may delay, but time will not” (Benjamin Franklin), and “Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin” (Victor Kiam).

Then there are those that go even further to warn of the depressing consequences of delay, like “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task” (William James) and the even more dispiriting “Every duty which is bidden to wait returns with seven fresh duties at its back” (Charles Kingsley).

The only ray of encouragement I can find for those of us who prefer to think – or resort to almost any other diversion – before ripping right in and getting our work done is Mark Twain’s admonition to “never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow”.

Though I strongly suspect that Twain failed to follow his own advice, as he wrote many longer and far more famous books than I ever will and still found time to dream-up cynical sayings.

In fact after all my research into the subject of procrastination, and close examination of my own modus stoperandi, I realise that we writers are rank amateurs compared with those true masters of delaying tactics, the members of Malaysia’s ever-ruling Umno/BN regime.

Not that they openly advocate procrastination. Quite the opposite. As the last part of their latest slogan, “1Malaysia. People First. Performance now.” appears to claim, they have every intention of springing immediately into action. Which they do, I must admit, when it’s in their special interests. When citizens peacefully protest against the latest government atrocity, or when bloggers publish documents allegedly implicating them in criminal activities, they react with lightning speed.

But when it comes to performing such tedious chores as investigating suspicious deaths in police or MACC custody, or putting the recommendations of royal commissions into practice, or prosecuting cases of corruption by regime members, supporters and cronies, they’re capable of such astonishing feats of procrastination as to put us individual time-wasters to shame.

So, while these crooks play for time between now and the next general election, let’s hope that the millions of Malaysian citizens who’ve been postponing their participation in the electoral process will finally get around to registering to vote. Because however pro crastination many of us may be in our personal lives, there’s no pretext for any more patience with being conned by the pernicious political procrastinations of Umno/BN.

 

 

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Advance? Australia? Fair?

My apologies for going on so much about Australia’s Lieberal-led Coal-ition lately, but I really need to vent my revulsion at the fact that these con-servatives are, entirely contrary to the spirit of our national anthem, rapidly ‘advancing’ the country in reverse.

In every possible way, but most obviously this week by means of the protection racket they’ve been running on behalf of their supporters and cronies on the big or rather pig end of town.

But in any case you can avoid my ranting by simply ignoring it. Like me, you’ve probably had more than a belly-full by now of the evidence of systematic malpractices, corruptions and crimes emerging from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

And now, to add insult to the injury done to many if not most of us by the CBA, ANZ, NAB, Westpac, AMP and their predatory subsidiaries, we’re being confronted with the sickening spectacle of Treasurer Scott Morrison and Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer striving to deny that they’ve spent the past two years dismissing, ridiculing and voting against moves by Labor and the Greens for a royal commission into this mess.

Plus pretending to forget that it was only a threatened revolt over the issue by some of their own Coal-ition back-benchers that finally dragged them, ‘kicking and screaming’, as so many commentators have observed, to relent.

But not, with the exception of former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, to repent, but rather to embark on an offensive – extremely offensive – campaign of lies, spin and evasion.

In short, rather than advancing the cause of financial reform, these retards have set it back as far as possible, even to the extent of some years ago slashing the budget of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the alleged financial ‘watchdog’ that has since clearly been sleeping on the job.

At least, despite their scramble to deny that they’ve been responsible for years of foot-dragging on financial-services reform, and thus arguably open to the accusation of having been accessories to the crimes currently being exposed by the royal commission, the Coal-ition parties look likely to pay a heavy political price for the protection racket they’ve been running on behalf of the predatory banks.

Turnbull, Morrison, O’Dwyer and all their accomplices in retarding rather than advancing Australia are now faced with more determined opposition than ever to their plot to slash the corporate tax rate, in light of the fact that a fat slice of the benefits would go to the very banks that the voters have such good, and still growing, reasons to revile.

And the same voters aren’t so stupid as to be unaware of the fact that financial services is just the latest in a long list of the Coal-ition’s failures to advance Australia.

Long-overdue root-and-branch reform of the tax system still remains completely undone, despite the government’s assurance some years ago that, following prolonged inaction on recommendations by the Henry Report ‘everything was on the table’.

And in another massive failure to make the slightest advance, as signified by my continually calling it the ‘Coal-ition’, this gang of fossils and fools still persists in pandering to its supporters and cronies in the fossil-fuel industries, thus costing Australians a fortune in inflated power bills and the nation the opportunity of playing a leading role in the global renewable-energy revolution.

Just as they wasted years opposing same-sex marriage and  then squandered $100 million or so on a plebiscite so that they could pacify their ultra-right, or in other words ultra-wrong colleagues by blaming the populace for the decision rather than taking responsibility for it themselves.

Advance? You must be joking. In every sphere it gets its grubby hands on, the Coal-ition, in its desperation to cling to power by conning its con-servative constituency that the path to progress lies in fosterinbg feral levels of financial greed and fear amounting to panic at the prospect of change, is capable of nothing but retreat.

And then there’s the question of Australia itself. I have to confess that this issue is far too complex for a legal ignoramus like me, but I’m dimly aware of some sleazy legal fiction by which some islands and perhaps even the mainland of the continent have been ‘excised’ for the purpose of denying asylum-seekers landfall within our borders and keeping many if them in prison camps for years. An act that, as long as we’re employing the name of our national anthem here to examine where we’re collectively heading, to me casts doubt on not only the advancement of Australia, but its very identity.

All of which finally brings me to the confusion I’m in about the apparently innocent but on further thought tricky little four-letter word ‘fair’.

According to my true-blue Macquarie Dictionary, this innocent little word has at least five meanings, leading me to wonder every time I hear ‘Advance Australia Fair’ which meaning, if any, comes to most peoples’ minds.

The meaning the lyricist presumably intended, given that ours, like most national anthems, is a jingoistic jingle or, if you prefer, patriotic to the point of self-parody, was ‘fair’ as in ‘beautiful’. And indeed it’s true that Australia, like almost any other nation you or I could name, undoubtedly boasts a great deal of breathtaking beauty, both natural and man-made, while admittedly some of its sites are a sight less attractive than others, or outright blots on the landscape.

But besides ‘beautiful’, of course another meaning of ‘fair’ is ‘blonde-haired, pale-skinned’. This connotation of ‘fair’ takes us into dangerous territory, evoking as it does the bad old days of the pernicious ‘white-Australia’ policy, when caucasians were the only permitted migrants. And additionally reminds me of  the apparent intention of our unlovely immigration and security super-cop Peter ‘Dead to Me’ Dutton to preference white South-African farmers over other potential newcomers to the country.

But I doubt he’ll get away with this, any more than he will achieve his stated intention of requiring candidates for citizenship to demonstrate university-level proficiency in English, as by far the majority of Australians seem welcoming of migrants from anywhere and everywhere, without discrimination.

So if ‘fair’ as in skin and hair colour isn’t what most of us understand our anthem to mean, what about ‘fair’ in its meterological sense, as in ‘fine, not rainy’?

Certainly a good deal of the Australian continent, especially the so-called Red Centre and sundry other deserts is fair as in fine, not rainy, though I doubt that the drought-stricken nature of our continent is what our anthem’s librettist intended to evoke.

Though come to think of it, if the Coal-ition’s record of water management gets any worse than its woeful performance in the Murray-Darling basin, our anthemic ‘fair’ could come to achieve a very dry meaning indeed.

The next and fourth of all the possible implications of ‘fair’, of course, is ‘mediocre’, which I grant you is an apt description of our current government’s record of achievement in office, and indeed the quality and credibility of most of its members.

But frankly the ‘fair’ that I like to think Australia should be advancing towards, instead of, as at present, apparently backing away from due to the Coal-ition’s bloody-minded determination to steadily widen the social, cultural and above all economic divisions between its citizens, is the ‘fair that my dictionary defines as ‘free from bias, dishonesty or injustice’.

Or, in other words, ‘fair’ as in such common expressions as ‘fair play’, ‘fair go’, fair share, ‘fair crack of the whip’ and ‘fair suck of the saveloy’.

There’s apparently no way that my kind of Advance Australia Fair is going to come true under the current Lieberal-led Coal-ition government, however given its failure, indeed outright refusal, to make advances like reforming the nation’s deformed tax system, fostering the development of renewable energy  and many other similarly dire situations. So  I’m fair busting to help in whatever small way I can to throw it fair out of office.

 

 

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South Africa’s rANCid ruling regime.

I’d love to be able to research and write an article as good as this about the rampant corruption of South Africa’s ruling ANC regime, but there’s no way I could possibly hope to equal this magnificent effort by Norimitsu Onishi and Selam Gebrekidan for the New York Times, see:

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Mahathir’s second coming?

This is the burning question in Malaysia these days: can the 93-year-old Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad resurrect himself as opposition prime minister come the May 9 general election and thus prove to be the messiah that Malaysians have been waiting for to lead them to the Promised Land after 60-odd (very odd) years in the Umno/BN wilderness?

Current Prime or rather Crime Minister Najib Razak certainly hopes not, as a new free, fair, honest and genuine government for Malaysia would likely prove not so much the Promised Land for him and his Umno/BN accomplices as the prospect of imprisonment.

Punishment for a long, long list of offences against the Malaysian people, from an endless string of corruptions and other criminalities of which the looting of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) has been the most massive, and the gruesome murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, Mongolian translator and pregnant former mistress of at least one of the participants in the Scorpene Submarines swindle, the most memorable.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Mahathir has put himself forward as the saviour of Malaysia before. Twelve years ago, to be precise, when he pressured Umno/BN to dispense with his hand-picked successor as Premier, Abdullah Badawi, and inspired me to the first piece of writing I ever had published in Malaysiakini.

A blast from the past that that seems to me as eerily relevant today, April 13, 2018 as it did back on June 16, 2006:

 At last, an opposition.

 Not to decry the efforts of the DAP, PKR, PAS and other parties that have aspired to bring some semblance of balance to Malaysian politics over the years. They’ve had the deck so stacked against them that they can be entirely forgiven for how ineffectually they’ve opposed or even criticised the endlessly entrenched bully-boys and girls of Barisan Nasional.

But now BN has some real opposition. And it can’t be blithely ignored or dismissed as some frenzied fundamentalist fringe-group or make-believe party of meddlers, misfits and malcontents. In fact it’s not a party at all, but a person. Or more accurately a personage. Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, alone and single-handed, in full spate, and of course spite.

To be sure the Malaysian news media, the party-owned newspapers and the Prime Media free-to-air TV monopoly, have dutifully done their darndest to write the situation off as just a “spat” or a typical Mahathir stunt, or by downplaying the whole thing as much as possible. And Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, aka Pak Lah, was at first almost silent in his public response, saying only that the Tun is entitled to his opinion as Malaysia is a democracy.

Malaysia is nothing of the kind, of course, as a genuine democracy is, as Abraham Lincoln memorably phrased it, “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Not government of the people, as it’s been for far too long in Malaysia, by not the people at large but by a self-appointed “elite” of “leaders” who rig the rules, flout the laws, suppress dissent and crush criticism in favour of themselves, their relatives and cronies; and certainly not for the people, who are expected to be grateful for whatever they get or at least to keep their opinions and complaints to themselves.

For the two decades during which Tun Dr Mahathir headed this fraudulent “democratic” system, he seemed quite content with the situation. In fact he appeared to do everything in his power to perpetuate it, and employ it quite shamelessly to his advantage. But now, it appears, he’s determined to assert his right to criticize, ask questions and demand answers of the Government, just like the opposition, the press and the populace do in genuine democracies.

Not that I’m suggesting that he’s changed. As always, he’s showing himself to be a fighter. And again as always, out of instinct rather than idealism, and for his personal agenda as well as, if not in preference to, the public good.

But whatever Dr M’s motive for bad-mouthing his successor as PM – whether he’s simply making mischief, or miffed at what he sees at monstrous mismanagement, or even, as some I think foolishly suggest, showing symptoms of senile dementia – he’s mounting a more powerful challenge to Barisan Nasional’s monopoly of political power and opinion than most Malaysians have seen in their lifetimes. And if Malaysia’s journalists had the mettle and the moxy to follow his lead despite the protests of the political pawns and puppets they work for, and if the Malaysian people could see this as a watershed moment, maybe history would someday remember Dr M, not for the malice, mendacity, malfeasance, magniloquence and outright megalomania he all too often manifested in his years as Prime Minister, but as the man who, if only by default, brought true democracy to Malaysia.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has, after all, and apparently with the backing of everyone from Cabinet on down to the Backbenchers’ Club, agreed to respond to Tun Dr M’s questions in detail and in public. Whether he’s as honourable a PM as he appears and his “Seri” title proclaims, and not just a plausible front-man for business-as-usual behind the scenes as some suspect, only time and events will tell.

But meanwhile, given his apparent readiness to allow one citizen – albeit one as eminent as Tun Dr M – to criticize and question his Government and refuse to take either nonsense or “no comment” for an answer, just like happens in genuine democracies, I think we should take him at his word. Who knows?

Maybe his constant assertion that Malaysia is already a democracy, as mistaken as it is, isn’t so much insincere or cynical as a sign that he intends to make it one. And maybe, with all the help and encouragement Dr M’s giving him, and with the support of the millions of other Malaysians who’d love to live in a truly free country, just maybe he can do it.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Twelve weary years down the track, we know all too well how that ended. In a disaster named Najib Razak. So let’s hope that in the meantime Mahathir has managed to get his messiah act totally together, and that he really can save Malaysia from the Umno/BN hell that he formerly helmed for 22 years and thus helped create and perpetuate.  If so, and if he’s not simply on some cynical mission to more favourably position his son Mukhriz in Umno/BN, or even worse, as some suspect, serving as a stalking-horse for the an anti-Najib Umno/BN faction, his second coming can’t come too soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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