Wednesday 10 October 2012
A kenduri featuring free food for about 130,000 of my closest friends would have been just right, I thought, but then I was upstaged on that score by the Malacca Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam’s gala celebrations for the wedding of his eldest son.
And in any event, I doubt whether Malacca state agencies would have agreed to organise and pay for my launch event as it did for the wedding, considering that my book is somewhat critical of the corrupt expenditure of public money by Malaysian politicians.
Not that such carping concerns seemed to faze Mohd Ali (left). In fact he simply shrugged-off the opposition and popular anger at his arrogance with claims that the event was “not expensive” but actually “cheap to organise” and that critics of it were “jealous” that it had won him a place in the Malaysia Book of Records.
Of course I and my publishers could have come up with similar rebuttals if our projected mega-book launch had caused offense, but I doubt whether Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein would have rushed to our defence as he did for Mohd Ali.
Not only because I’ve written a great many unkind things about Hishammuddin and his Umno/Barisan Nasional goons in this and previous books, but because the cover of “Malaysia Mania” features a cartoon by the fabulous Zunar, whose books are regularly banned by Hishammuddin’s Home Ministry.
And then there’s the further damning fact that the new book includes a foreword by another prominent and persistent critic of the Umno/BN regime, Bernard Khoo of zorro-zorro-unmasked.blogspot.com
With the result that the only publicity “Malaysia Mania” has received so far, at least to my certain knowledge, is a most generous free plug on the homepage of the popular site hilariously satirising the Umno/BN mainstream media, www.fakemalaysianews.com
Committed to keeping as many poverty-stricken as possible
But I’m quite concerned that even this won’t do much for sales, as 'Malaysia Mania' retails for something like RM20 and thus must be way out of the financial reach of a great many potential readers.
Despite being able to scrounge the odd free meal at Umno/BN rallies and wedding kenduris, most recipients of the regime’s paltry BR1M handouts must desperately need the extra cash to spend on groceries and other essentials, and thus can hardly afford to splurge on luxuries like reading materials.
Nor are they likely to be able to afford too many non-essential purchases anytime soon if Khairy Jamaluddin has any say in the matter, as he recently slammed Pakatan Rakyat’s proposal for a RM1,100 monthly minimum wage as “unrealistic” and bound to have a “catastrophic effect” on the economy.
No mention by Khairy (left) of the catastrophic effect on the economy of massive plunder and squandering of public money by the criminal regime of which he is a member and beneficiary, however.
Which is curious, considering that his current big boss Najib Abdul Razak has arguably done far more catastrophic damage to the economy with everything from publicly-funded private celebrations to his massive vote-buying efforts than any minimum wage could possibly do.
Admittedly Najib hasn’t yet robbed Malaysians in general as much of their prosperity as Umno/BN crony Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul “The Termite” Taib Mahmud has stolen from the people of Sarawak.
But given his propensity for doling-out small sums of cash to people stuck on low incomes, he’s clearly as committed as Taib to keeping as many people as possible as poverty-stricken and dependent as possible.
Or as RM46-billion man Taib expressed it during the Sibu ‘buy’-election in 2010, “the bumiputeras are humble. They know they are poor and in difficulty. So they place high hopes in the government to help them out”.
As Jeffrey Kitingan, then of PKR, responded to this shameless remark at the time, “What Taib has expressed about poverty in Sarawak is the hidden agenda of every BN politician in the country. It is the BN philosophy that the people are easier to organise, control and manipulate if large numbers of them are kept perpetually down and out”.
Thus attempts by the likes of Khairy to keep wages as depressed as possible, and refusal on the part of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to make any significant move against massive corruptions like that of Taib.
'Pathetic attempt' to eradicate corruption
The MACC’s latest excuse for its dire dereliction of its duty is that “archaic laws” are preventing it from proceeding with investigations against “a wealthy leader of a state”.
Whatever is hampering the MACC, be it archaic laws or simple political corruption, it is certainly losing its so-called “war” on corruption, despite last week’s strenuous attempts to make things appear otherwise.
In a characteristically expensive exercise in denial and damage control, the Umno/BN regime hosted a conference of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IACAA) at which the prime minister was quoted by Malaysiakini as declaring that “if the country wanted to eradicate corruption, it should not only look at abuse of power in public offices”.
In a pathetic attempt to distance himself and his sleazy regime from the fact that Malaysia has fallen to an all-time low in world corruption rankings, he placed the blame on society.
“While society demands public accountability, they endorse the pursuit of greed and unmitigated material successes,” he said, adding that “it was vapid self-interest and greed that was truly at the heart of corruption".
And Najib should know what he’s talking about, as “vapid self-interest and greed” have long been the hallmarks of his Umno/BN regime.
Though this clearly-evident fact didn’t prevent his deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin, the man who as Agriculture Minister oversaw the scandalous grant of RM250 million to the crony National Feedlot Corporation, from claiming that the government’s alleged “war on corruption” is having “positive and tangible results”.
In other words, they’re still up to all the inane, insane antics that inspired me to call my latest book 'Malaysia Mania'. And to lead me, in my vapidly self-interest and greedy fashion, to wish I could promote it using public money, to see it on sale in 1Malaysia stores or have it given away free to attendees at Umno/BN events.
But unfortunately it looks as though I’ll have no such luck, and any would-be readers will have to cough-up 20 bucks.
Unless, of course, I can get backing from Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s old nemesis George Soros as part of his alleged efforts to undermine the rotten Umno/BN regime.