Friday 12 October 2012

The Christian smokescreen - Mariam Mokhtar

Whenever Umno bashes the Christians, you can be sure they have got some dirt to hide.
Many people are aware that in Ancient Rome, Christians were thrown to the lions, in the Colosseum as entertainment for the Romans and the emperor. Today, when governments want to bury bad news, they will exploit a tragedy, or they will create a distraction for the public, to minimise the bad publicity they would otherwise have received. In Malaysia, the Christians are the smokescreen.
What will Umno do next time one of their leaders is accused of corruption? How would Umno deal with opposition exposure of foreigners being given votes in exchange for the right to work and be registered as Malaysians? Who would Umno exploit if they have to return a verdict of death by misadventure, the next time an individual tries to exit from the window of a multi-storey building? Where else in the world is religion used to promote the interests of one party and one race? When will the Christians be of most use to Umno? Why would Umno want to embrace the Christians?
The answer is simple: Umno uses the Christians to quell dissatisfaction in the masses, principally the Malays. The non-Malays are also forced to go on the defensive and adopt a deferential role. Umno dislikes the building of bridges between different communities.
Last year, there was plenty of bad news about the Malaysian economy, corruption, the empty promises of reforms by the government and the Election Commision (EC), Lynas rare-earth plant and the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal.
Most infamous was the handling of the accusations of police brutality during the Bersih 2.0 march for democracy by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
These reports were in the run-up to the announcements by rogue politicians that Malays are being proselytized, or that solar-powered talking bibles are being used to convert the Malays.
In recent weeks, former minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil blamed two online newspapers for misrepresenting the Auditor-General’s report on the NFC. She also claimed that as a working woman she was not aware of what her husband and children were up to, although they lived in the same house.
We also learnt that the Ministry of Finance had awarded a RM164.8 million tender to an allegedly unsuitable supplier of padi seeds. Who would be blamed for the failure to germinate? The weather or the farmer?
Malacca’s Chief Minister Ali Rustam entered the book of Malaysian records for his “cheap” RM600,000 wedding of his son, when 130,000 members of the public were invited to the feast, “sponsored” by companies and agents of the state. Would members of the public be permitted preferential use of facilities, like tents and air-conditioning units?
Around 1,000 students and activists from independent Islamic schools (SAR) held a protest outside Parliament and questioned Umno about the lack of funding for their schools in the 2013 Budget.
After months of being praised for being the perfect ambassadors for Malaysia and “the eyes and ears of the government in eradicating corruption”, KL taxi drivers saw through this charade and took to the streets to protest about working conditions. Unfortunately after being fleeced by the taxi-drivers, the public were not sympathetic to their cause.
Incidentally, the Auditor-General’s 2011 report has been delayed. Why?
In recent weeks, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad accused George Soros, Umno’s public enemy No.1, of financing various NGOs to force a regime change in the country.
So what did the public make of the revelation yesterday, that Najib had entertained billionaire financier Soros in New York, in 2010? One PM says Soros is evil, another PM courts him.
The RM40 mil question
All these contradictory stories would make even the most reclusive and ignorant Malaysian ask questions of the government, but the bombshell that Umno dreads most is the RM40 million question.
Sabah businessman Michael Chia was carrying RM40 million worth of Singapore dollars when he was caught at the Hong Kong airport, in 2008, before he could board his flight to Kuala Lumpur. For whom was the money destined?
The Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) charged Chia with money laundering and trafficking, but yesterday, Minister in the PM’s department, Nazri Abdul Aziz said that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had found no evidence of corruption and that the money was a political contribution for the state Umno and not meant for Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman.
Investigations by the ICAC had led to claims that the money was part of a greater hoard of USD30 million, held in trust for Musa, in a Swiss bank account, whilst the website Sarawak Report alleged that the money is linked to corrupt deals in Sabah’s timber trade.
If political aide Teoh Beng Hock was murdered for a paltry RM2,400 why is Chia not being investigated for trafficking RM40 million? What has Bank Negara to say about this?
If Chia is donating to Umno, then why isn’t MACC doing its job? Chia was caught in Hong Kong en-route to Malaysia, with funds purportedly for Umno. Why is foreign money being used to fund the party? Suaram and Malaysiakini have been admonished for receiving foreign money, so is Umno immune from censure?
Is there not a limit to the amount of funds a party receives? Did Umno and Musa do a deal to allow him to continue to rule in Sabah?
Why did Chia need to smuggle the money? In December 1996, former Selangor MB Muhammad Muhammad Taib, the “suitcase” politician was caught and charged when he tried to smuggle the equivalent of RM2.4 million cash in Singapore, Malaysian and New Zealand currencies in his luggage, when leaving the Australian Gold Coast.
Why are Umno-linked people afraid of using the normal banking channels when moving money around? Are they trying to evade tax or is the money from illegal sources?
Neither Musa nor Chia are on trial here, but it is the MACC which is in the spotlight, for failing to do its duty.
The people who complete this dirty work, for Umno, are the likes of Zulkifli Noordin, the self-styled defender of Islam, who tried to distract us from the story of RM40 million illicit funds from abroad. He did this by persecuting the Christians, again.
Yesterday, he claimed in parliament, that he had proof DAP was going to turn Malaysia into a Christian state. Whenever Umno bashes the Christians, you can be sure they have got some dirt to hide.
Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.

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