Eight ‘oops!’ moments of 2018

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Jho Low - Photograph: utusan.com.my

Wandering Malaysian recalls eight jaw-dropping moments that left us dumbfounded in the year just ended.

Barking rooster

To celebrate the end of the Chinese Year of the Rooster and usher in the new Year of the Dog, the then Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism took out a full-page ad featuring a picture of a barking rooster in a rather ingenious but misguided attempt at avoiding a picture of a dog in deference to certain religious sensibilities. That species mishap backfired, and the ministry wisely decided to apologise.

Where’s my chocolate gone?!

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak complained rather bitterly that his chocolates went missing from his refrigerator during a 1MDB-related police raid nn his residence. In response, an event called “Jom Bagi Coklat Kat Abang & Akak Polis” (Let’s Give Chocolates to the Police) was launched with the #chocs4cops tagline trending. Sadly, the sweet-toothed cops who allegedly helped themselves to the chocolates were never fingered. The former PM is preoccupied with 38 charges of criminal breach of trust, fraud, corruption and money laundering related to 1MDB while his wife Rosmah Mansor is facing 19 money laundering and corruption charges. A busy year ahead for them both.

Zahid’s record

Former Deputy Prime Minister and Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is also not feeling very merry. He now faces a record 46 charges: 19 counts of CBT and 27 money laundering charges, give or take a few. His wife Hamidah Khamis claimed that her husband was a victim of vengeance and urged Umno members to “stand by him as he sacrifices for religion, race and country”. The party members did not quite feel the same way, and he was forced to step down as president while awaiting trial.

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k-word boo-boo

Current Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was reported to have said “I want to use a ‘k…..’ word. The ‘k…..’ say podah (get lost)”, in a rather bewildering critical reference to the Electoral Commission just before the elections. His defence that the k-word was acceptable in his native Kedah and that his friends did not mind being called the k-word did not go down well and he subsequently apologised. An agitated Vell Paari rather weirdly told him “to stop partying as if it is 1929”, which must have made Prince roll over in his grave.

c-word and p-word boo-boos

The irrepressible Ibrahim Ali chose to use the celaka word to describe the national unity and social wellbeing minister. The c-word was accompanied by a threat to run amok as Perkasa was supposedly losing patience. Poor Ibrahim Ali must be feeling upstaged by the likes of Azwanddin Hamzah of JMM and his Gagasan 3 blogger buddy Ragvinder Singh Jessy aka Raggie Rithaudeen, self-proclaimed guardians of Malays, Islam and the Malay rulers and sworn enemies of the DAP. Azwanddin was arrested for threatening to attack a police station, using the p-word against the minister and is facing a RM30m defamation law suit. The de facto deputy law minister has suggested a mental health checkup for Azwanddin which sounds like excellent advice for both Ibrahim and Raggie too.

You’ve got to be Jhoking

Fugitive Low Taek Jho aka Jho Low, self-described “global philanthropist, investor and entrepreneur” and central character of the Billion Dollar Whale, wanted in Malaysia and Singapore and described by US prosecutors as orchestrating the theft of US$4.5bn from 1MDB, has proclaimed: “Let me be clear: I am innocent.” Pending his likely trial in absentia in Malaysia, there is apparently a brisk sale of a line of Jholly Christmas novelty items adorned with festive phrases like “Spending like I stole it” and “T’is the season to be Jholly”. You’ve got to be Jhoking.

READ MORE:  Video: 'You are a nuisance!' Najib walks out of Al Jazeera interview after barrage of questions

How not to avoid Christmas

In considerably less festive mood was Pas youth chief Muhammed Khalil Abdul Hadi who warned Muslims not to celebrate Christmas as he said it was against the teachings of Islam. In response, his Facebook page was flooded with Christmas greetings. Much to his chagrin, the secretary-general of his own party sent out Christmas greetings to all Malaysians. Another fellow Muslim activist also helpfully suggested that he buy an island, proclaim it as an Islamic state and move there with his kind to avoid Christmas and other celebrations.

ICERD distraction

Depending on who is counting, either 50,000 or 500,000 Malaysians gathered to celebrate the non- ratification of the International Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) aka the anti-ICERD thanksgiving demonstration. The participants included the former prime minister, his wife and his former deputy, all of whom understandably needed a distraction from the dozens of criminal charges against them. The United Nations and the rest of the world are dumbfounded as to why Malaysia would choose to join the likes of North Korea, South Sudan and Myanmar in rejecting an anti-racial discrimination treaty. Pas president Abdul Hadi Awang, however, sees the convention as part of a Zionist agenda and said that the rally would “save Malaysia from being re-colonised”. He was presumably referring to the threat of Zionist aliens from outer space.

There will be more oops! moments in 2019, for sure.

Wandering Malaysian is the pseudonym of a regular reader of Aliran.

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