Saturday 25 August 2012

Why Janji Ditepati is as flat as capati

The Merdeka Day theme rings hollow because Najib’s government has broken many promises

PETALING JAYA: This year’s Merdeka theme, ripped off from Barisan Nasional’s election campaign theme, has alienated a large portion of the public from the National Day celebrations this year.

Despite all the hammering the government has received for its choice of the “Janji Ditepati” theme, Information Minister Rais Yatim has defended it, saying it speaks of the promises the government has made and kept since Independence.

And Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz is not to be outdone. He said the ruling coalition had the right to pick the theme because Umno, MCA and MIC fought for Merdeka.

Since we’re stuck with the theme, it’s only fair that we question its accuracy. What has BN promised us since Najib Tun Razak became Prime Minister in 2009, and has he fulfilled those promises?

On April 2009, Najib promised to repeal the Internal Security Act (ISA)) 1960 , which was initially used against communist insurgents but which gradually became a powerful weapon that BN often used against opposition politicians and other dissidents.

The government did repeal the ISA, but replaced it with another draconian law called the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012.

The new law is unlike the ISA in that it allows judges to review the validity of detentions. However, it allows a detainee to be kept in prison pending a hearing by a mere oral application by the public prosecutor.

What if the court sets a hearing date one year from the date of detention? The hapless detainee would be stuck in prison till then.

In other words, the government merely repealed the ISA on paper while retaining the spirit of that draconian law in the guise of a new act.

Last February, Najib promised to introduce legislation to monitor and control funding to political parties in order to curb corruption.

Cold storage

Subsequently, Pemandu chief Idris Jala announced a two-tier control on political funding.

“The first-tier would include internal control from the political parties by introducing a checklist of recommended action to curb corruption,” he said. “The second tier would be an external control—to facilitate better detection, prevention and enforcement by identified agencies in combating corruption.”

And that was the last we heard from the government on the matter. Since BN thrives on the politics of patronage, it is not hard to understand why the plan went into cold storage almost as soon as it was cooked up.

Najib, the champion of “People First, Performance Now”, has also failed to act on the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) report on the 2009 death of Teoh Beng Hock.

Although the RCI managed to identify the anti-graft officers who were responsible for Teoh’s death, the Attorney-General has refused to take action against the perpetrators and passed the buck to the MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission).

Najib has also ignored the deafening calls by many, including former MACC advisor Robert Phang and former Kuala Lumpur CID chief Mat Zain Ibrahim, to establish a tribunal to investigate the alleged wrongdoings of Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail.

With all this, and many other issues still left hanging by the government, no wonder many are saying that the Merdeka theme should be changed to “Janji Dicapati” to reflect its flatness or lack of depth.

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