Much water has passed under the Crooked – or if you insist, Scenic – Bridge. Accolades to the Abdullah administration havecome from BN politicians, the Opposition and even one Anwar Ibrahimfor having terminated what looked like a pea-brained proposition.
Other quarters have dissented, saying that Malaysia should have gone ahead with the bridge project irrespective of what others, especially Singaporeans, feel about it.
The most vocal of the dissidents (surprise, surprise) is Mahathir, who fervently felt that the Abdullah administration had succumbed to the unjust demands or pressure of our neighbour across the still-functioning Causeway.
Dr M tastes his own medicine
Much used to the media limelight of yore, Mahathir even called a press conference to explain his side of the story – only to discover that he’s no longer the darling of the mainstream media, a fate that usually befalls those who no longer walk the corridors of power. Yes, his recent supposedly revelation of the unknown agreement between him and former Singapore premier over the controversial bridge was censored by the mainstream media, much to the obvious chagrin of Mahathir.
So Mahathir has joined the league of Malaysians who had previously complained when he was premier that it was terribly unjust of him to curb the democratic right of Malaysian citizens to voice their opinions publicly in the mainstream media. These complaints of course fell on Mahathir’s deaf ears.
Ironically, like many of us in civil society in Malaysia, Mahathir has now found some solace or space within the cyberspace that he had helped to build. The guarantee that Mahathir gave to investors – mind you, the pledge wasn't primarily aimed at providing freedom of expression to ordinary Malaysian citizen – in the context of his much-touted Multimedia Super Corridor has provided some measured hope to bloggers, webmasters and online journalists.
What openness under Abdullah Badawi?
The continued media marginalisation of Mahathir and concerned Malaysians to this day somehow does not sit well with NST group editor Brendan Pereira's insistence (in his column yesterday, 25 April) that there is deliberate openness in the Abdullah administration.
To the best of our knowledge, citizens’ organisations and political groups still face obstacles in getting a permit to publish their publications. Keadilan, we believe, is still in that quandary. Parti Sosialis Malaysia, on the other hand, is still waiting for its democratic right to set itself as a legally registered political party.
What's more, certain views that are perceived to be too ‘sensitive’ to the powers-that-be do not find their way easily into the mainstream media.
To Mahathir, we can only say that you reap what you sowed. Pity the harvest ain’t bountiful.
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