— Othman Wahab
The Malaysian Insider
Nov 26, 2011
NOV 26 — Saifuddin Abdullah, the deputy minister, I am sure is a nice enough man and by his public statements, seems to have a level head.
But he is clearly mistaken if he thinks we are going to swallow his ridiculous defence of the Najib government inept attempt to pull wool over our eyes with its Peaceful Assembly Act.
Even more disappointing is his defence of the prime minister, saying that the man’s thoughts were not manifested in the Act which was tabled with much fanfare by no one else than the PM himself.
He absolves the PM by saying that the PM cannot be expected to know the small details of legislation and then suggests that PM’s intentions was not followed by whoever drafted the legislation.
This is another example of everything being everyone’s fault except Najib’s. This is becoming a common trait in Malaysian politics. If there is credit to be given, it is the PM. If there is a mistake, it is not the PM.
The problem with Saifuddin’s explanation is that the failure of the Peaceful Assembly Act had nothing to do with minor details.
It had to do with the intent of the government. And plainly, the intent was to do the minimum and hope that the people will be satisfied. The intent was also to ensure that any liberalising would not endanger the hegemony of the government of the day.
When this subterfuge did not work, the Cabinet had little option but to announce it was making some amendments. Tweaking the notice period from 30 days to 10 days does not do anything because still outlawed is street protests ala Bersih 2.0.
But this is the style of the Najib government: they only respond to calls for change when they are challenged by the people or when they are cornered.
With elections around the corner, they can’t afford the Bar Council and other groups taking to the street.
Saifuddin, I also believe that you are letting off Najib too easily. After all, wasn’t he who said that this Act was “revolutionary”. Surely he would have gone through the legislation before trumpeting it as revolutionary and knocking the Opposition for pointing out its weaknesses.
Or was that an impostor in Parliament?