Foot-in-mouth disease

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There’s a dreaded disease going around at the moment that evidently afflicts people who think they can lead us, writes Zaharom Nain.

Wily foreign elements are fully aware that Malaysia desperately needs a submarine or two

And because it is getting serious, there really is a need for them, especially since they hold some public office or position of responsibility or authority, to first engage their brain, no matter how small, to take deep breaths, to bite their tongues or, indeed, to do all of the above, before they open their rather big mouths to speak.

Top of this list of individuals, in terms of seniority but surely not of wisdom, has to be Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and his able sidekick, the Tourist, I mean Tourism, Minister, Ng Yen Yen.

We won’t belabour the fact that they seem to do this quite often, except to say that they’ve been proven wrong more than once before… although, like many of their counterparts, they evidently refuse to eat humble pie.

This time around, in response to the arrest recently of two Malaysians in Lebanon for alleged links to al-Qaeda, both ministers were reported to have assured us and, I’m sure, the wider world out there, that Malaysia is not a hotbed of terrorism and that everything’s under control.

Hishammuddin “stressed that the country is not a recruitment ground or a target for international terrorist groups” but was only “a transit point”.

The Tourist, I mean Tourism, Minister, Ng Yen Yen, in turn, clearly concerned about the possible bad publicity for the country that could result from the arrest of these two Malaysian men, and, certainly, the impact on tourist arrivals, stressed: “The world knows Malaysia is not a centre of terrorism.”

Well, amen to that.

But, just as we were uneasily trying to feel safe and assured, out came Chua Soi Lek’s daily read, The Star, with a front-page headline that screamed: ‘Web of terror’.

It turned out in this ‘scoop’ that ‘al-Qaeda’s official website was being hosted at an address in Kuala Lumpur’. Right under the noses of the authorities evidently – despite all the gadgets, technology and techies befitting a country that in 1996 had begun leapfrogging into the ‘digital age’ via the Multimedia Super Corridor.

Yes, despite all that, it, indeed, required The Star to alert the authorities that Tawhed.net, reportedly ‘the largest terrorist portal in the world’ and al-Qaeda’s ‘main online library’ was being hosted in Kuala Lumpur.

How long the website had been hosted here, we have not been told. Indeed, the story seemed to have just died after last Thursday. Died of embarrassment perhaps.

But, of course, not before the authorities, like the two ministers, assured us all that “they were monitoring the situation closely to see if there was any website hosted in Malaysia linked to al-Qaeda”.

Mind you, this was after they had been informed of the al-Qaeda website.

I think we can rest assured that, again like our two senior ministers, they said that with straight faces while wiping off the egg from their collective mugs.

The inanity has not stopped

But – whether it was something in the air pre-superstorm Sandy, whether it was simply the beginning of silly season yet again – the silliness, the inanity has not stopped.

Indeed, there was this group of pro-establishment types, purportedly belonging to yet another ‘NGO’ (I doubt they know what the term means) who went on a street demonstration… to voice their objection to street demos.

Yeah, right. Where do these creatures crawl out from? From a 1Malaysia pub perhaps.

Or, equally likely, from Kota Belud.

I say Kota Belud because, if memory serves me, the Member of Parliament who comes from there quite often does say some ‘interesting’ things. One of his more-recent ‘newsworthy’ comment was in response to the auditor-general’s last report.

The part that caught his eye were the nice things the AG said about the financial accounts of a few Pakatan states. That they were well-managed and in the black, indeed showing a healthy balance.

But Kota Belud (I believe that’s how they are addressed in parliament) was not impressed. In an opinion piece he wrote in Malaysiakini, he dismissed the healthy accounts as the products of ‘creative accounting’.

Brilliant.

In one fell swoop, he managed not only to insult the intelligence and question the credibility of the country’s top auditor (and his team) but also raised the possibility that such chicanery was something with which he was very familiar. The possibility, that is, that he’d seen it being done before, perhaps by the administrators of a non-Pakatan state?

Strangely, after all that talk about creative accounting, neither he nor any of the usual goons badly in need of regular employment made even one of those ever-popular police reports

But, really, the grand prize winner for foot-in-mouth disease this past month – perhaps for this whole year even – surely must go to that Malaysian navy chap, an admiral, I think.

Yes, the one who, realising that – apart from Soros, the Jews, the Americans, the Christians, the LGBT community – we haven’t blamed the Portuguese yet after 500 long years, decided to train his musket on this `olde enemy’ and reveal a naval secret.

And what a major revelation it was.

The BN government, according to him, spent a couple of a billion tax payer ringgit (or was it US dollars?) with some loose change, to purchase the infamous Scorpene submarines to ward off another attack – after 500 long years – by the Portuguese.

Believing in his wisdom, I have since wondered why in heaven’s name a friendly way-distant neighbour like Portugal would want to invade (possibly) Malacca again, and via the Malacca Straits at that, possibly in the Portuguese version of perahu?

And the only feasible – or is it feeble? – explanation I have been able to come up with is that the envious Portuguese wish to gatecrash the next record-breaking wedding do of the chief minister of Malacca.

This piece first appeared in Malaysiakini.

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