Smoke and mirrors

— Rom Nain
The Malaysian Insider
Jul 11, 2012

JULY 11 — For many, certainly among the educated, urban middle class, it has become quite apparent why this administration has become increasingly unpalatable.

There have been the barefaced lies and arrogant disdain in response to scandals such as the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC), Scorpene submarines, and controversial projects such as the Lynas plant.

There also have been the crass accusations and misrepresentations of important and meaningful events like Bersih 3.0, the ongoing blatant buying of the peoples’ votes using public funds and, of course, the continuing, unprovoked character assassination of people and parties who, for some inexplicable reason, seem to scare the living daylights out of the members of this regime.

The call by the Barisan Nasional’s Seri Gading MP, Mohamad Aziz, for Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan to be hanged for treason is a perfect example of this desperation, this stupidity, this insanity.

All this, evidently, has contributed to a general feeling of revulsion among many at the antics of a regime that appears to have gone mad with power. And will do anything to cling on to it, especially at a time when its legitimacy is evidently at an all-time low and is rapidly sinking further.

Indeed, things seem to have all gone wrong for Prime Minister Najib Razak.

He started off with grand talk of reform and giving Malaysians more freedom. Just a few days after becoming the prime minister, on April 7, 2009, he boldly declared: “If we are truly to build a democracy that is responsive to the needs of the people, we need a media — both old and new — that is empowered to responsibly report what they see, without fear of consequence.”

Of course this was three long years ago, before the personnel from some of the media he was talking about were soundly beaten to a pulp by his boys in blue one Saturday afternoon in April.

But, nonetheless, over these years, as if to constantly divert our attention, these words have been supplemented by even more words, empty slogans and even emptier promises.

The 1 Malaysia spiel, for example, has certainly been flogged to death, despite his deputy and an assortment of his “ketuanan Melayu” mates continuing to make a mockery of the slogan.

But even if he’s not been consistent, Najib has certainly been persistent, especially with his seemingly empty talk about “transformation”, “freedom”, and Malaysia’s ability to become “the best democracy” around.

And not surprisingly, despite the continuous missteps, there are those in his administration who evidently feel that something, anything, needs to be done to stem the tide, to help make the regime look acceptable, even if it’s nothing more than just smoke and mirrors.

One such person who tries but evidently isn’t very good at it is arguably the PM’s chief propagandist, Information, Communication and Culture Minister Rais Yatim.

In his latest foray, Rais announced in early June that “for the first time ever”, non-BN political parties may promote their manifestos on RTM or other broadcasters.

But before we could all go out and celebrate this “great” breakthrough, the old man went and spoilt it all — reminding us that this, after all, is Malaysia — by outlining various rather ridiculous conditions.

This includes the condition that such broadcasts can only begin once Parliament is dissolved and the campaigning period starts.

The fact that Rais “did not state how much airtime would be given or the conditions that parties had to comply with to access the facility” really should make us cautious about this “opening” up of the media to all parties concerned.

Indeed, firstly, why are the “guidelines” — government imposed, at that — being provided only at the beginning of the campaign period, without any discussion with the interested and affected parties?

Second, will all parties be given equal time in the same time slots? It would make a mockery of the facility if, for instance, the opposition coalition and other non-BN parties are provided time slots that have small audiences, hence minimum reach, to promote their manifestos.

Indeed, more conditions have now been imposed. The most insidious is the one that disallows live broadcasts of these manifestos and that the recorded ones may indeed be subject to editing — read manipulation, read distortion — by RTM.

And, of course, it has gotten sillier. Rais has since been quoted as saying that “the manifestos would be aired depending on their newsworthiness”. And you can be sure he said all that with a straight face, as comedians do.

By no stretch of the imagination can what is being proposed — with the conditions imposed — be interpreted as “free and fair access” to the media. Indeed it yet again simply insults our intelligence for the minister and even the chairperson of the Election Commission to suggest so.

Even a first year media studies undergraduate could tell the PM and his toadies that to begin even thinking about “free and fair access” we would need to look at media ownership patterns, indeed, the concentration of media ownership in the hands of BN political parties.

We would also need to come up with ways to dismantle these undemocratic ownership structures. Equally, we would need to consider getting rid of undemocratic laws that impede free and fair access.

And looking at recent developments, we would certainly need to rethink the amendments to the Evidence Act.

So when we begin to look at it seriously — and not in a vacuous manner — “free and fair access” really means much more than the handing out of ‘free’ airtime during the campaign period.

More and more of the Malaysian population are quite aware of this. Unfortunately, many of these dinosaur politicians are not, especially after all these years of not being able to recognise “democracy” even when they tripped over it. —

  1. #1 by monsterball on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 - 1:04 pm

    Non stop exposing crooks is the best.
    All medias are controlled by UMNO b to published half truths and promote how good Najib is.
    “Shame on you” said Lim Guan Eng should be to all BN parties.

  2. #2 by monsterball on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 - 1:14 pm

    Thousands are ready to die for country and people.
    His thousands too.
    He behaves like Mubarak and yet said Malaysia is not like Egypt..we are peace loving people…..and so we are.
    But he try to make peace loving people like suckers and fools…and dare not have a fair and square GE…afraid to be defeated…planning Emergency Rule…his is asking for big big trouble.
    All his children not spared.
    We wants it..he will get it.

  3. #3 by monsterball on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 - 1:16 pm

    I mean …..
    “He wants it…he will get it” my last sentence.

  4. #4 by k1980 on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 - 1:24 pm

    Ambiga to be hanged for treason? Hey, Jib, why not just c4 her? Gone in a puff of smoke……

  5. #5 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 - 1:34 pm

    ///the recorded ones may indeed be subject to editing — read manipulation, read distortion — by RTM///

    If speeches are required to be edited by RTM unilaterally, it is wiser for the opposition to not give any speech.

  6. #6 by Godfather on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 - 2:44 pm

    Najib has serious problems in Sabah, Negeri, Perlis, Kedah, and Selangor. He can’t make the warring factions work, and the threat of sabotage is very real. If you read the pro-BN blogs now, you will see that there is a concerted effort to brand enemies within as “traitors” and to warn these people of the consequences.

  7. #7 by Godfather on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 - 2:47 pm

    Then Najib has to contend with the biggest saboteur of all within UMNO – Mamakthir. If Najib doesn’t agree to let Mukhriz be the Kedah UMNO head, then Mamakthir will continue to snipe at Najib’s heels.

  8. #8 by Godfather on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 - 3:28 pm

    Anwar is not wrong when he spoke of the “mood for change” in his interview with The Guardian. Special Branch thinks that the almost 3 million new voters are more likely to vote Opposition than BN, and that’s what is keeping Najib awake at night. I have met and discussed with so many middle-aged Malays who agrees that change is the only way out for this country.

  9. #9 by SENGLANG on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 - 4:44 pm


    Kong Ming used arrow to win the War along the Cliff we shall win GE using our pencil by putting the ‘X” on the right box.

    Just do it!

  10. #10 by mauriyaII on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 - 7:10 pm

    UMNO/BN has been sick a long time ever since the last tsunami. They could not find a remedy or panacea for their self-inflicted illness. They could not change. They did not change. They will never be able to change. They are in such a deep rut.

    Their doctor in the house (resident evil and mad doctor) is at his wit’s end. He is so inflated by his 22 years of dictatorial rule that he keeps on dishing out the same medicine for an altogether different malady – that being the rakyat have woken up. They see clearly how they have been robbed clean under his “cekap, bersih, amanah” hogwash.

    Najib might have good intentions when he took over especially when his spin masters came up with an all enveloping 1Malaysia slogan but it died a premature death what with all his diehard warlords like Mooheedin burying it with their divisive and racist theme.

    Then there is the doctor in the house with his own vested interests. The nation can go to the dogs but he feels the paramount thing to do is to safeguard all his ill-gotten wealth. Secondly he wants his son to be the Kedah MB before the 13th GE. That he feels would be the quantum jump before he is hoisted as the UMNO president and PM.

    The evil doctor has been promoting his brand of politics, namely Mamamkthirism, since he ousted the Tunku. Now he has revived it with a vengeance to achieve his mad goals.

    He will say and do everything bad and evil but will have his usual amnesia. A good example is when he says Mahathirsim is dead. It will only die when he is dead and gone.

    Mahathir’s fight is for his family and himself. He is really not fighting for the Malays (he is a not a Malay but a pseudo Malay) but to exploit them as he has done all the while.

    Najib is still in power because the mamak has use for him. The day the doctor in the house perceives that Najib is irrelevant to his devices, he would be dumped like Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

  11. #11 by Loh on Thursday, 12 July 2012 - 11:46 am

    Mamakthir said that he wants to be PM again, and as soon as he has selected a successor he would resign immediately. That many words mean that he wants his son to be PM. So Muhyiddin, Kerismuddin, and all other UMNO supreme council members, Mamakthir is fighting for a Malay, his son. But is Mamakthir a true Malay? If he is a Mamak, then his son is Mamak too.

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