Mariam Mokhtar

What a Hari Raya joke and how true - 1Christians

In the spirit of Hari Raya, T Anpanama has granted your correspondent a very candid interview.

T Anpanama is the original career politician. He was sent to a prestigious boarding school in a royal town on the banks of the Perak River but after a month of being ragged by the older boys, pleaded with his mother, to be schooled in Kuala Lumpur. His mother acceded to his request; but his dad would have none of it. T Anpanama was soon shipped overseas to a school in England to join his older siblings.

T Anpanama followed in his father’s footsteps and became a politician soon after university. His awareness of the real world outside of politics is limited. Despite being exposed for incompetence, negligence and corruption, T Anpanama continues in his position as a senior politician.

He lives in the capital with his second wife and his stepchildren and when in his rural constituency, enjoys the pleasures of a third wife and family. When he makes overseas trips, he is accompanied by his young mistress who helps soothe the stresses of a political life.

What was your childhood like?

T Anpanama: We come from a working class family but my father worked hard to get ahead in life. He was a kampong boy and attracted the attention of the colonial government when he was always the top of his class. He was offered a scholarship and went to England to study. Mother was a housewife and cared for the family.
There wasn’t much money around but we were happy. When father returned from overseas, he decided to help the people in his village by entering politics.

I remember the family’s first major expense. It was an enormous fridge, like the ones you see in the American movies. We were the envy of our road and mother used to have people for tea, as we could serve them sirap bandung with ice.

Our next major purchase was a black and white television set. I used to spend hours watching my father campaigning and vowed that one day I too would like to be on television.

When father purchased a cine-camera, he would take films of us and I used to enjoy seeing myself on screen. I would beg mother to shoot reel after reel of me. The mainstream media are doing fantastic work portraying me, in a good light.

Describe your first job?

I had no idea what I wanted to do after university. My first impulse was to go around Europe in a campervan like so many of my English friends, but mother would have none of it. I think she knew that I was destined for better things. She was the one who encouraged me to follow in my father’s footsteps.

When father became a senior politician, everyone wanted to curry his favour and in a sense, I was headhunted by the leaders of commerce and industry. In the end, I decided to take up the job offer, which was closest to home.
It was most convenient. The company was located in the tallest building in the city and I was fascinated staring at the city from my vantage point.

I did a lot of signing although to be frank, I have no clue what I signed. I must have been an important person. I had my own restroom and an annexe complete with a bed to rest, when exhausted. Sometimes, I would have to entertain an industry representative and sample her wares.

I was such an agreeable person, ‘they’ asked me to stand for election. I did, and won. No one knew me but ‘they’ said, “Don’t worry. You’ll win.”

What is your ideal job?

I still do not know what I am good at but I enjoy the perks like travel and holidays abroad, which my current job brings. The work has its own challenges but there is nothing that money cannot solve.

Do you like making government policy?

I am not that good with identifying the problems in society. I allow the Opposition to come up with policies first, and then get my men to work on their ideas, to present them as my own.
These advisers are a foreign firm and cost me a lot of money. Of course, they are worth every sen. My own advisers are like me – we see nothing wrong with society, but the opposition is very imaginative and see problems everywhere.

Which is your most difficult question, which you fielded from the press?

On one campaign trail, I was asked how much a loaf of bread cost.

I said 10 sen and the reporters looked shocked. Then I said, RM10, and they shook their heads, so I volunteered RM100, but they laughed.

After that occasion, whenever I am asked awkward questions, I just walk away and say, “No comment.” I hope my constituents see that I have a sensitive side.

Which is your easiest question from the press?

A foreign journalist asked me how much a bus fare would be and how long the journey would take from two well-known spots in Kuala Lumpur.

I told him that when I went on the one promotional bus ride in the city, my security men just cleared the bus of people and I was not asked the fare. It was a pleasant ride as we only took 15 minutes and I was given a cup of coffee and a Danish for the trip.
I heard that the trip normally takes two hours. I don’t understand why my press secretary, who is also my wife had the journalist deported.

What lessons have you learnt as a politician?

Despite my menial wage of RM20,000 per month, I have garages full of imported cars and a house full of reproduction antique gilt furniture. I believe I have a string of other properties but I’m not too sure because my wife, and our children, lead separate professional lives. They are workaholics and make a lot of money.

What I don’t know can’t possibly hurt me. The anti-corruption agency has always been convinced when I tell them that I am not aware of what my family is up to. And I like the head of the agency. He always lets me win at golf whenever we have a game together. We were once at the same school and I’d like to think that we are settling old scores.