True to form, Umno does not disappoint in its single-minded goal of tearing this country apart for its own ends, writes Sheila Santharamohana.
Never has there been a time in Malaysian history where the Prime Minister could do so little yet achieve so much to restore the faith of Malaysians in this beleaguered country of ours.
But then, it all boils down to a deep sense of purpose and duty – and our current PM’s are, unfortunately, toward his self-preservation and that of his tenuous position in Umno.
His recent choice of the most uninspiring Cabinet ever and role in the opening salvo of racist rhetoric show that he will not or cannot find the courage to do the right thing by the Malaysian people.
In his bid to retain his position against the combined force of his deputy and the newly crowned Menteri Besar of Kedah, his disastrous assignation of the Home Minister portfolio to the sledgehammer and stalwart supporter, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, can only portend more trouble ahead. Is Najib determined to sacrifice this country just so that he can remain President of Umno and PM?
On TV, Najib bleats about the insidious negative perception perpetuated by the forces of darkness (read opposition) but remains thunderously silent even as the nation reels in outrage and disbelief at the blasé attitude toward the deaths in custody and the clampdown of political figures. He worries the Red Bean Army and legions of Facebook cybertroopers are confusing the situation, causing anxiety among the population and painting his administration in a bad light.
If only we were so easily baffled.
So what does Najib need to do then to untangle the mess of our hearts and minds? Like I said, not much. He only needs to do two things:
1. Reform the police
Six police reports were filed against an individual for allegedly insulting the King on Facebook and the individual was detained overnight for questioning.
As I recall, a few decades back, Tun Mahathir curtailed the powers of the royals and uttered seditious remarks about their alleged excesses yet got off scot-free. To date, no one has dared to challenge him, much less suggest his citizenship be revoked. No charges of sedition were levelled at him either, unlike P. Uthayakumar who will see the four walls of a prison for two years. The law has its favourites, it would seem.
Our Home Minister, himself facing an assault charge, warns us to behave or else he will not hesitate to take ‘stern action’. In the wake of three deaths in eleven days, he asks us for our trust that he will investigate the custodial deaths fairly. He guarantees that the outcome will be decided justly by international standards. So why do we get the same perception that some are more equal than others? Malaysians have not forgotten the ugly murders of Ulaganathan, Francis Udayappan, Asogan, Bangsar Shan, Pua Bee Chun, C Sugumaran, Aminulrasyid, Noor Azman Othman and Aidi Noor Hafizal Othman and Tharma Rajen. He wants to scrutinise and review the police station SOP. The double standards must end. Right now, we demand justice for all the murders in lock-ups.
The police are the custodians of the law, and protector of the people. When any of them fail their roles and become the perpetrators of crimes against citizens, they become the enemy of the people. If their actions are sanctioned by the state, then truly the people are being regarded as the enemy of the state.
2. End racism
Ridhuan Tee didn’t fail to reach new heights in his racist exhortations in Utusan Malaysia. Off of the back of similar sentiments expressed in op-eds from the Umno mouthpiece, the seditious comments from the ex-Court of Appeals judge, Mohd Noor Abdullah, Perkasa and its demand for 60 per cent Malay equity and the upcoming screening of the Finas propaganda film, Tanda Putera, on 29 August, it appears that Najib has little desire to pursue any reconciliation post-GE13.
True to form, Umno does not disappoint in its single-minded goal of tearing this country apart for its own ends. Both in the run-up to GE13 and after, Malaysians have had to endure anti-Islam and anti-Chinese scaremongering in every possible media. Later, the BN’s dismal performance in GE13 was explained away as the fault of ‘greedy’ PR-voting Malays and ‘ungrateful’ Chinese. The Indians, as usual, did not get a mention.
Umno urges unity in all its ‘perpaduan’ 1Malaysia media propaganda. Simultaneously, its discourse reeks racism. Yet, Najib goes on record that this is our problem – our misguided and negative perception.
If only it were so. A bit of myopia wouldn’t hurt but the lines are too clearly drawn. What we want and what we don’t have are all too real, Mr PM. No question about perception here.