Monday, 2 July 2012

Remember, remember the 28th of April

Whether his question stemmed from the lack of a functioning brain or if it was a strategic strike at Najib, the Umno lawmaker has given Bersih another shot in the arm.

And the silence was deafening.

Those who roared in approval of his remark had deserted him when, to put it in a more dignified perspective, the faeces hit the oscillating blades of that mechanical contraption affixed to the ceiling.

The entire Barisan Nasional had distanced itself from him, with its secretary-general claiming that the Umno lawmaker proffered a personal opinion when he asked if S Ambiga should be sent to the gallows for treason.

But the ruling coalition had stopped short of reprimanding its backbencher who had brought shame and disrepute to BN on more than one occasion with the gibberish that rolled out of his mouth.

This lawmaker’s contributions to Parliament were limited to thumping the table in support each time the word “government” was mentioned and to cause a ruckus whenever an opposition member raised a sensitive point.

He was also one of those named by the deputy speaker for turning the Dewan Rakyat into a freak show.
In suggesting a possible hanging for Ambiga, the cerebrum-challenged Sri Gading MP drew a comparison between Bersih and the militant movement Al-Maunah, whose members were sentenced to death for waging war against the King.

Faced with a faux pas of the highest order, BN had no other alternative but to sidestep the imbroglio as it would be an impossible feat to equate the call for free and fair elections with treason or an act of war against the monarch without giving the impression that the king supported electoral fraud.

First shoot, then scoot

There was not a squeak or a whimper from his fellow Umno MPs, including the one who had launched himself from his seat to declare his agreement when Mohamad Aziz popped the question in the August House.

Holding true to the tradition of “shoot when the scuffle is small and scoot when it gets big”, his comrades watched from a safe distance as the opposition and others ripped the Umno veteran to shreds for his remark which critics claimed reeked of racism and sexism.

Even the razor-tongued Perkasa, the vanguard of extremism, kept its lips pursed, perhaps on the instructions of its political masters not to exacerbate the situation with more mindless rhetoric.

But Mohamad’s question managed to elicit a response from the tight-lipped MIC president G Palanivel, who had expressed his dissatisfaction as well as his apprehension for the potential loss of Indian votes for BN if the attacks against Ambiga did not abate.

However, his criticism of the infamous burger protest some two months after the incident prompted one disgruntled MIC member to liken him to the policemen in Tamil movies, who often arrived at the scene late after the hero had vanquished the villains.

Palanivel cannot be faulted because he was not an elected president, did not have a parliamentary seat and his government positions were handouts from the prime minister. So this puts him on a tight leash with regard to being critical.

The party’s all-powerful central working committee called on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to take stern action against Mohamad. But the demand, like countless others in the past, would go unheeded and MIC would leave it at that.

Because BN was not a coalition of equals. In its antiquated hierarchy, MIC ranked third and therefore must subjugate itself to the Big Brother. And with the general election looming, aspiring candidates cannot afford acts of bravado lest it angered the Big Brother and ruined their ambitions.

Acting on orders of the DPM?

Nevertheless, the pressure had forced Mohamad to cough up a pathetic justification and to explain to the voters that he was not a racist, sexist or religious bigot but just a political dinosaur with a jurassic mindset.

The Umno warlord from the home state of Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who, some claimed, had stirred the hornet’s nest upon the orders of the latter to further sting Najib’s image, however did not apologise for his action.

Instead of giving him a drubbing and ordering him to express remorse for his actions, Najib, who appeared to be suffering from a string of political misadventures, chose to issue a blanket statement reminding BN leaders not to make racist remarks.

Perhaps with the general election coming, the premier felt that it would be unwise to subject an influential Umno local leader to a public flogging and earn his wrath.

Regardless of whether Mohamad’s question had stemmed from the absence of a functioning brain or if it was a strategic strike aimed at tainting Najib, the fact was that it provided Bersih, Ambiga and by extension the opposition with another boost while delivering another bruising for BN and the prime minister.

Since the April 28 rally, it was the government and its cohorts which had kept Bersih and Ambiga in the news and in the minds of Malaysians with a litany of bizarre statements and actions, which allowed the opposition to exploit and capitalise on them.

And without realising, Mohamad had also strengthened the case for free and fair elections because it was bewildering that a person with such a deficit in calibre could be elected for three consecutive terms based on merit alone.

A death threat comes knocking

Even before this episode could come to pass, a threat against Ambiga’s life had surfaced.

It would be dangerous for the authorities to dismiss this as a trivial matter or another opposition plot to defame the government because public perception was stacked against them and all that had happened was seen as being condoned by the powers-that-be.

Ambiga herself had blamed the unceasing hate speeches against her as the reason behind the situation spiralling out of control.

Najib should consult the ancient seers in India to determine if he had wronged this woman in his past life as a result of which he was now reaping the retribution and also to check if he suffered a curse with regard to women whose names started and ended with the letter “A”.

Some might argue that his affliction also involved women whose names started with the letter “R” and ended with the letter “H”.

Apart from this, his cousin and Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein should direct the police to launch a thorough investigation into the threat and provide adequate protection for Ambiga.

Perhaps Najib should station several police special action squad personnel armed with C4 explosives outside Ambiga’s house and even deploy the Scorpene submarines in a storm water drain there.

Because if, God forbid, anything happens to her, Putrajaya would be torpedoed in the next polls or worse, a Malaysian spring might just take root, and the prime minister would have to consider migrating to Mongolia.

Silencing Ambiga would not quell the winds of change rustling the leaves in Putrajaya because as the quote from the movie V for Vendetta had so succinctly put it: “Beneath this mask, there is more than flesh. There is an idea – and ideas are bulletproof.”

So remember, remember the 28th of April!

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