A Failed Mission in Washington DC

by Raja Petra Kamaruddin in Washington DC

It was a strange scene at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on Wednesday morning.  When the seminar on Governance & Rule of Law in Malaysia began, only one of the speakers came into the room, Nazri Abdul Aziz.

Attorney-General Gani Patail and former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamed were somehow nowhere to be seen. And in good Malaysian fashion, the seminar started 10 minutes late.

The seminar’s chairman, Ernest Bower, looked tired and nervous, saying that he had received a number of e-mails expressing concern that the seminar would not be balanced. He said that he wants a dialogue on important issues. Therefore he also has invited the opposition to speak at CSIS. He hopes they will accept.

Ernest Bower then shocked the audience of about 40 people by saying that the session was ‘off the record’. The flyer announcing the seminar never said it was an off the record session. It doesn’t matter though. The session was so boring there is very little to report anyway.

Malaysian Ambassador to the US, Jamaluddin Jarjis a.k.a. JJ, spoke for two minutes. He just said that he is working very hard to improve relations with the US (whenever he happens to be in town, that is). He made no mention, though, whether the new US$150,000 Porsche he just bought is paid for by the Malaysian taxpayers or by him personally.

Nazri said that it was just a coincidence that he, Gani and Abdul Hamid happen to be in Washington at the same time. (Sure. If you believe that then I have half a bridge to Singapore to sell you.) He said he didn’t know where the two missing persons were.

He then introduced the “four members of my delegation,” all MPs. (Talk about wasting the taxpayers’ money!) Two of them were PKR turncoats, including the infamous Zahrin Mohamed Hashim.

In a tribute to Malaysia Today, Nazri held up an Internet printout and referred to Martin Jalleh’s article, Malaysian Circus Goes to Washington. He claimed that he had been planning the trip to Washington for nine months because he and the Prime Minister believe it is important to strengthen ties with the US.

Nazri then started his formal speech and spoke for 30 minutes. It was a very academic and therefore a very boring speech. There was no real substance to it and the audience quickly grew bored. Even JJ got so bored as he sat next to Nazri on the podium.

But what shocked the audience was to watch JJ’s antics at such an “important meeting” at such a “prestigious think tank.“

The whole while Nazri was speaking, JJ was sending and receiving messages on his Blackberry and mobile phone. He never turned off the ringer. When he tapped out a message, one could hear the “click, click, click” of the keys. He even called his aide up to the podium twice to have conversations. He also got up and left the room and then came back.

And here is a first for Washington. Then, as Nazri was still speaking, JJ picked up the Washington Post and started to read it — not once, but twice.

Nazri went on and on, quoting Malaysia’s many laws banning corruption. But of course he never said that they apply only to the opposition and not to UMNO politicians or taxi permit holders (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

Finally, he stopped speaking and said he would welcome tough questions. He got one right from the start from Kumar, the head of Amnesty International’s Washington DC office. Kumar said Nazri and JJ had both just said that they want to improve relations with the United States. But that will never happen as long as people in Washington have concerns about Malaysia’s harassment of the opposition and Anwar’s trial.

Referring to the Malaysia Today article, Kumar said if there’s a Malaysian circus, it’s Anwar’s trial. Nazri replied, “Anwar is a friend of mine.” (With friends like Nazri, who needs enemies?). Nazri said he underwent his legal training in the United Kingdom and claimed that if he ever sensed that the Prime Minister was interfering in the case and there is political interference in Malaysia’s independent judiciary, he would tender his resignation.

He added, “When we heard about Saiful’s charges against Anwar, I thought it was unfortunate. For the sake of the country, we don’t want the nation to endure a trial like this again. But Saiful is entitled to justice. Why talk about rule of law if you ignore his report? He had a right to report to the police. In any event, Anwar’s acquittal before shows that our judiciary is independent, and we did not appeal that decision. That shows we are interested only in justice, not political persecution.”

Nazri went on. “We do not have an agenda against Anwar. Why would we want to use the same old charge of sodomy, again? If you don’t believe me, there is nothing I can do.”

JJ clapped.

JJ was the only one who clapped.

Murray Hiebert then stood up to introduce himself as the former Asian Wall Street Journal correspondent in Malaysia (but politely declined to mention his experience with ‘good governance’ and ‘the rule of law’ in Malaysia when he was the guest of a Malaysian prison).

Murray asked about the Allah issue. Nazri turned to the Malaysiakini reporter in the room and told him, “Don’t you dare report what I am going to say.”

Nazri looked alive and gave a 20-minute history and language lesson, repeating the usual government line. As Nazri finished his long-winded answer, JJ leaned over to whisper to Ernest Bower, who suddenly jumped up and brought the seminar to a halt. It was still only 11:30am and the seminar was supposed to go until noon.

JJ probably thought an early halt would be wise before they put their foot deeper into the mouth. Or maybe he was really getting bored and just couldn’t take it anymore. Or maybe he was hungry. So JJ led Nazri out of the room and the audience followed.

So much for the so-called ‘dialogue’.

  1. #1 by Jamal Malik on Thursday, 25 February 2010 - 1:44 pm

    They know they can’t handle the truth. All they can do is tell lies, half truths and slander the innocents.

  2. #2 by Godfather on Thursday, 25 February 2010 - 2:15 pm

    Chengho and Kasim Amat were also in the room, both having been rewarded by UMNO for posting anti-DAP comments on this blog. Both these clowns were enthusiastically applauding Nazri, so it wasn’t true that only JJ was applauding.

  3. #3 by chengho on Thursday, 25 February 2010 - 2:57 pm

    Yes i was there…I don’t see RPK , may be just like James Bond movies RPK changed his dna became full caucasian?

  4. #4 by Dap man on Thursday, 25 February 2010 - 3:02 pm

    Come on lah, RPK is just having some fun with this satire.
    Why should Nazri use Martins Jalleh’s article? Why even refer to MT at all?
    I doubt this incident took place with two clowns missing after using our money to fly to Washington.
    JJ must be a damn fool to be reading papers when a Minister is talking.
    No, this is a joke.

  5. #5 by dagen on Thursday, 25 February 2010 - 3:24 pm

    Nazri? Delivering an academic piece? Common on! If he did, it would certainly be entertaining, not boring.

  6. #6 by dagen on Thursday, 25 February 2010 - 3:29 pm

    Hmmmm. So murray asked nazri about the allah issue. Wonder if he offended nazri and umno’s sensitivities? You see. Only in sabah and sarawak can non-muslims utter the word “allah”. And america (I dont think my knowledge of geography is that bad) is not in sabah or sarawak.

    Get my drift?

  7. #7 by Yee Siew Wah on Thursday, 25 February 2010 - 4:02 pm

    These guys , esp that “PATAI” and Cheap ooppps… “Chief” judge, are wasting their time and rakyat money in Washington. Instead of staying at home resolving all the political and economic issues to mention a few, they are trying to telling the west how great and grand our “judiciary” and laws in Bolehland are.
    Look, our judicial system has already become a laughing stock in the eyes of the world – we go from the Federal Court to the High Court, and then to the Appeals Court, and back to the Federal Court. What a joke!
    I’m sincerely proud to be Malaysian. But with the present bunch of politicians and civil servants running the country, only god can help us!!!!!
    No wonder NOBODY is interested anymore whatever our politicians open their mouths.

  8. #8 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 25 February 2010 - 4:48 pm

    What is the idea of doing the “seminar”? I don’t get it. What did they think the result of such a “seminar” was going to be?

    Do they really think they could AND did effectively convince a bunch a professional sceptics with the arguments they gave? How is it possible?

    The arguments they gave can,if at all, only be swallowed by the kampung folks and the most insecure people..How was it expected to fly in over-confident professional sceptics in Washington?

    I frankly don’t get it..

  9. #9 by yhsiew on Thursday, 25 February 2010 - 5:05 pm

    The report revealed the profound distrust by high-profile foreign figures in the Malaysian government. That could spell trouble for Malaysia in regard to foreign investment and overseas co-operation. Maybe some governments are already treating Malaysia as a pariah state placing it alongside with Zimbabwe, Myanmar and North Korea.

    The mission in Washington DC was not expected to be successful – how could the government convince foreigners that Anwar is guilty of Sodomy if it failed to convince its own people at home?

  10. #10 by DCLXVI on Thursday, 25 February 2010 - 6:11 pm

    chengho :Yes i was there…I don’t see RPK , may be just like James Bond movies RPK changed his dna became full caucasian?

    RPK doesn’t need to change his DNA (He’s half Caucasian anyway). He can simply put on a wig, false moustache & beard as a disguise.
    But anyway, this is not about RPK.
    It’s about ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ being staged in Washington DC.

  11. #11 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 25 February 2010 - 6:12 pm

    Wah! 2 speakers ponteng. 1 turned up to tokok and off the record. JJ yawned, SMSed and read newspapers. Not much Q and A. “Seminar” cut short.

    What kind of b-s seminar is this? Is this an excuse for a junket at taxpayers’ expense?

  12. #12 by raven77 on Thursday, 25 February 2010 - 8:55 pm

    Heavens! We now have an international correspondent who covers every country except Malaysia and Singapore….RPK! Long live the free world…and HELP!!!!!

  13. #13 by tunglang on Thursday, 25 February 2010 - 9:01 pm

    We have many clowns in international circuits driving Porsches yet trying to behave like ‘gaya’ diplomats! These clowns still think they are in Malaysian soil to behave in such farsical display of the highest moronic order befitting their ‘status’.
    What a shame to Malaysian image!

    As for the 2 MIAs, well you & I know for what excuses they weren’t present!
    What a wastage of public funds.

  14. #14 by vsp on Thursday, 25 February 2010 - 10:00 pm

    But what shocked the audience was to watch JJ’s antics at such an “important meeting” at such a “prestigious think tank.“

    Attorney-General Gani Patail and former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamed were somehow nowhere to be seen.


    JJ, the man with the itchy hands that tends to roam unabated into forbidden territories, seemed to be agitated and distracted. I wonder whether there were any sweet young thing (SYT) present in the conference. Maybe he needed some toddy to calm himself.

    As for AG Gani Patail and former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamed, they seemed to have disappeared into some red-light district to enjoy the forbidden fruits of Washington and the allure got the better of their judgement and responsibilities that they couldn’t tell night from daylight.

  15. #15 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Thursday, 25 February 2010 - 10:12 pm

    I am so glad u were able to attend the Washington ‘wash-out’.

    I’m sure many would be laughing with glee ( and Pete, u must be bursting at the seams) as u watched the Washington circus.

    Once in a while Nazri shines a little like when u called a spade a spade and called a racist a racist. The grand old man was enraged but Nazri gave him as good as he got. then the old man shut up. U acn’t fight a loose cannon like Nazri when his cannon blows itself out. But of course, Nazri is not worried if he looks like a fool. After all, he thinks the grand old man a bigger fool.

    This time around, Nazri looks like a solitary fool. And he stood alone. JJ was bored with his slapstick. Nobody believed what is said anyway.

    BTW, Pete – how much did the malaysian government pay to CSIS to organise a seminar for 40 pax? did they feast on caviar and lobsters on malaysian taxpayers account, eh?

    Goodnite Pete, wherever u r – Washington, Wilmington or Wilayah Persekutuan.

  16. #16 by c730427 on Friday, 26 February 2010 - 12:11 am

    This is what I think had happened;

    1. I guessed the two missing Mah-Lau could not wake up as they had too much drink at the strip club the night before seminar.

    2. JJ is sending live situation report to Najib via his blackberry.

    3. JJ sending signal to ask Nazri to stop talking rubbish by pretending reading newspaper.

    4. Nazri had to go in a rush without taking further Q&A. This is to stop further embarrassing moment and bleeding.

    UMNO-boleh! :D

  17. #17 by boh-liao on Friday, 26 February 2010 - 3:25 am

    Were Sh!tful n his uncle there as well 2 complete d circus n enjoy their fruits of labor?

  18. #18 by johnnypok on Friday, 26 February 2010 - 3:54 am

    The sole-speaker looked so pathetic and stupid. The opposition should grill them until their balls burst in the fire.

  19. #19 by Comrade on Friday, 26 February 2010 - 7:51 am

    What a cheek!
    Two playing hide and seek
    Why are they scared to speak?
    Maybe their misdeeds caused them to freak

  20. #20 by Jong on Friday, 26 February 2010 - 8:28 am

    ..’teloq kecut’ lah what else! Rather than be embarrassed facing the serious crowd of 40, the ‘missing game’ is the next best option.

    That’s the calibre of 1Malaysia’s top dogs!

  21. #21 by Black Arrow on Friday, 26 February 2010 - 9:50 am

    Terrible waste of rakyat’s money. This BN govt is getting worse day by day.

    Perhaps many in the international arena already think of Malaysia as a pariah state. And the BN flers are still in self-denial. This is truly a half-past six govt.

    Rakyat must vote out BN in GE13.

  22. #22 by HJ Angus on Friday, 26 February 2010 - 10:21 am

    since one of the VVIPs is known to have a proclivity for groping, here are some photos to illustrate the point.
    A glimpse of grope heaven?

  23. #23 by fed-up on Sunday, 28 February 2010 - 7:31 am

    The Malaysiakini reporter should just pass the report to a foreign reporter, let them report so that we can read about the ridiculous answer.

You must be logged in to post a comment.