Umno/BN has doubly insulted Malaysians by not only attempting to monopolise Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day with a partisan political slogan, but a slogan so patently false that only a fool would take it seriously, writes Dean Johns.
It looks as though Umno/BN have outsmarted themselves yet again with their latest attempt to take the rakyat for a ride.
Doubly outsmarted themselves in fact, and thus doubly insulted Malaysians, by not only attempting to monopolise Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day with a partisan political slogan, but a slogan so patently false that only a fool would take it seriously.
Promises fulfilled?? Promises foolfilled – foolfoiled or fullfailed, more like it. Because as far as I or anyone else can see, Umno/BN, especially under the premiership of Najib Abdul Razak, is good for nothing but lies, false promises and fraudulent reforms.
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False promises like his vow to leave “no stone unturned” in getting to the truth of the circumstances surrounding the death of Teoh Beng Hock in MACC custody, for example. So that now, after years of cosmetic official deliberations, the young man’s death is still deemed “neither homicide nor suicide” and no MACC culprits have been brought to justice.
False promises like those Najib made to the audience at the MPI Press Awards shortly after he was gifted the prime ministership, of his intent to “encourage respectable and fair dialogue on the country’s future involving the whole nation that takes place with a vibrant, free and informed media.”
“The country needs a (sic) media – both old and new,” he boldly declared, “that was empowered to responsibly report what they saw, without fear of consequences, and to hold government and public officials accountable for the results they produced.”
Yet more than three years later Malaysia’s Umno/BN-owned or dominated mainstream media remain as inept, impotent, incompetent and impossibly regime-biased as ever.
And thus as false as his promise at the same 2009 media awards of “a new national discourse” on the principles of transparency and accountability; service to all, not just a few; respect and fairness in public dialogue; and the necessity for institutions, parties and public servants to “work for the public interest, not narrow opportunism of political interests”.
And not, presumably, for such narrow opportunism as promoting a lying slogan like “promises fulfilled” for non-partisan national events like Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day.
But such unfulfilled promises are Najib’s special and indeed as far as I can see only forte, as in the sweeping undertaking he gave the 2009 Umno General Assembly that “Umno must not be seen as representing certain people, the party must be seen as an inclusive party which puts the people’s interests at the forefront, and not oneself,” but instead must “move away from the negative culture of money politics so we could become a clean and respected party”.
Then there were more false promises along similar lines to the Malaysia Business Summit in 2010 to “reduce wastage and avoid cost overrun by better controlling expenditure, establish (an) open, efficient and transparent government procurement process, adopt international best practices on fiscal transparency” and “zero tolerance of corruption”.
This last is the most spectacular unfulfilled promise of all, given that the RM12bn Port Klang Free Zone debacle is still unresolved, the RM250m National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) fiasco is still fresh in popular memory, and other mega rip-offs like the KL MRT are still unfolding.
Then there have been Najib’s false promises to not just reform, but transform the nation by repealing unjust and unpopular laws like the Internal Security Act (ISA), Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA), and their replacement with slight cosmetic variations or even worse statutes than the originals.
And all of the aforementioned promises, foolfilled, foolfoiled, fullfailed or simply broken, have been made, according to Najib, for the express purpose of making Malaysia “the world’s best democracy” under the 1Mendacious auspices of Najib’s overarching big-lie of 1Malaysia.
And the designers of the now-withdrawn dog’s breakfast of a logo designed to support the “promises fulfilled” line even had the effrontery to besmirch the memory of the nation’s independence by referring to it as “1Merdeka”.
Meanwhile, the architect of this farrago of falsehood, Information, Communication and Culture Minister Rais Yatim has had the gall to declare that “there is nothing wrong” with using the Umno/BN election slogan for Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day celebrations and to falsely claim that this was a “democratic system” adopted by many other countries.
Umno information chief Ahmad Maslan rallied to Rais’s support with the rather confusing claim that “fulfilling a promise is a universal good value and when we say promises are fulfilled it motivates the people to fulfil their promises in everyday life, except when the meaning is narrowed-down to a political point of view”.
And, predictably enough, Umno/BN’s racial-supremacist pressure group Perkasa has also pushed the party line, with its supreme council member Zulkifli Nordin stating that “if the government says ‘we will honour our promises’, we don’t see anything wrong with that. People who are opposed to the slogan are people who cannot fulfil promises”.
But most public comment I’ve seen on Umno/BN’s politicisation of Merdeka and Malaysia Days with its false election slogan and ridiculous song with lying lyrics personally penned by Amin Rais himself, has been in agreement with Lim Kit Siang’s taker on the topic.
Claiming that the theme will make Malaysia a “laughing stock” among its people and around the world, Lim lamented that “it is sad and shocking that this year’s National Day is no longer conceived as a national celebration as it has been hijacked by Umno and BN”.
“They are blatantly using their own slogan, which will divide rather than unite Malaysians, and yet nobody in the government sees that this is wrong and anti-national,” adding that this is a living example of ‘Janji Diketepikari’ (promises sidelined), instead of ‘Janji Ditepati’‘.
To which all I can add is the comment that, considering every promise Umno/BN makes is inevitably followed by delivery of the same old crimes, corruptions and repressions for which it’s been infamous for most of the past 55 years, it seems foolish in the extreme to raise the spectre of promises at all.
Dean Johns, after many years in Asia, currently lives with his Malaysian-born wife and daughter in Sydney, where he coaches and mentors writers and authors and practises as a writing therapist. Published books of his columns for Malaysiakini include ‘Mad about Malaysia’, ‘Even Madder about Malaysia’, ‘Missing Malaysia’ and ‘1Malaysia.con’.
This commentary first appeared in malaysiakini.com