The good news… and the bad

Rom Nain
Oct 8, 2012

After a couple of weeks or so of unrelenting inanity, enough to make me wax lyrical (well, almost) in this column, I thought of writing something nice, inoffensive, light-hearted even, this week.

After all, two Malaysian court decisions this past week certainly gave many of us reason to cheer.

The judgment for the five ex-ISA detainees in the illegal detention suit they brought against the regime, for one, must have been the perfect pick-me-up for many of us.

The KL High Court found that the five had been detained unlawfully and in bad faith in 2001 and reportedly awarded them ‘RM15,000 each, for every day of their detention under Section 73 of the Internal Security Act, as well as RM30,000 each as aggravated damages’.

Altogether, in the Oct 2 judgment, five former ISA detainess, then Reformasi activists, including the irrepressible Hishamuddin Rais (left), PAS’ Hulu Selangor assemblyperson Saari Sungib and PKR’s Batu MP Chua Tian Chang, better known as Tian Chua, were awarded a total of RM4 million.

There are probably those who may think that this is a big, even exorbitant, sum.

But when we read the litany of abuses they had to go through in the hands of the authorities, which, according to their lawyer, included being ‘shamed, made to change their clothing in front of police personnel, made to walk barefoot into a filthy toilet, interrogated for hours on end and for the first few days of detention, the Muslims among them were not allowed to perform their prayers’, it would seem that RM4m is a rather reasonable sum. Small change even.

Small change indeed, when compared to, say, the amounts that evidently changed hands with the PFKZ scandal, the NFC debacle and, most certainly, the amounts quoted in the Scorpene case.

Of course, the regime may still appeal the decision. But that will be another story.

A day before this memorable decision, yet another piece of good news had been received by the many Malaysians genuinely wanting reform.

This was The Kuala Lumpur High Court’s decision to quash ‘the Home Ministry’s decision not to grant a publishing permit to Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd, which operates the Malaysiakini news portal’.

It was a wonderful piece of news, especially given the ridiculous, idiotic accusations hurled by the increasingly unpopular mainstream media at Malaysiakini just a few days before, among which were accusations that Malaysiakini was out to topple the BN government.

In an almost immediate, certainly predictable, response to the High Court verdict, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein announced that he was in favour of appealing the decision.

Baffling statements

Indeed, in two rather baffling statements given at the same press conference, the often-bewildering, if not himself bewildered, minister is quoted by the respected Edge newspaper, as having first said, ‘…on a personal basis, of course, I would like to see the matter appealed’.

Then, when reportedly asked the reason for rejecting Malaysiakini’s appeal in 2010, he had this to say: “I was not around at the time…this is a legacy issue, that is what happened before. [If we dwell on the past], then we will not be able to move forward.”

I don’t know about you, but in my neck of the woods, this is what we would call a contradiction. And with this contradiction – not the first of its kind by the jokers of this regime – it looks as though Malaysiakini’s problems getting a newspaper permit will continue.

But, as a friend in Vermont, USA, texted me, ‘Celebrating even fleeting victories, without gloating over or making too much of them, would seem important.’

The more important point is that this story of Malaysiakini’s problems was covered quite significantly in the overseas media, in, among others, the New York Times. Indeed, it was the news item in the NYT that prompted my Vermont friend to message me.

However, this being Malaysia, and with the elections just down the road, however long, rocky and winding it may seem for some, such happy news tend to be drowned out by quite pathetic ones.

The most odious story had to come from the state that for so long was held in awe for having produced five legendary warriors. Indeed, Malacca, according to our ever-changing history books, is renowned for the warriors five, Tuah, Jebat, Lekir, Lekiu and Kasturi.

Tuah, especially, has long been credited with having provided the rallying call that always warms the cockles of the ketuanan mob.
Unfortunately, the reputation of these five as proud Malay warriors has received a bit of a setback lately, with some historians asserting that they were more fantasy figures than real ones, and others whispering – shock, horror – that they may not have been Malays after all and, may, instead, have had Chinese origins.

But all this pales in comparison to the reputation of the current chief minister, Ali Rustam, who seems to have sailed into a storm with his Malaysian Book of Records (who follows that, I wonder?) wedding feast for his son.

A feast for 130,000 people no less, which Ali says cost him ‘a mere’ RM600k. Indeed, a feast which, according to an alleged memo, was partly ‘sponsored’ in the form of equipment and personnel belonging to the Malacca state authorities.

God-given right to use office

Such, it would seem, is the screwed up understanding of what constitutes right and wrong in this country that when this story first broke, the response by those implicated in this potential abuse of state services and personnel, was one of indignation; that the people who were raising the complaints were simply ‘jealous’.

Indeed, reading through the reports, one couldn’t help but feel that this person – like others in his position of power – believed that it was his God-given right to use, indeed abuse, his office, for his own gain.

This, many believe, is the depths this regime has sunk too. Indeed, it has truly sunk so low that the head of the regime had the gall even more recently to give us all a lecture on the need for leaders at all levels of society to fight corruption, at a time when whistle blowers like Rafizi Ramli and, of course, Suaram, are being harassed and intimidated by his own regime’s minions for doing just that.

What has become of accountability, we may well ask?

What, indeed, has become of shame?

ROM NAIN is a media analyst and academic who is weary of incompetent, unethical leaders and their apologists and spin doctors in the media who try to get away with murder while professing to rub shoulders with God’s angels.

  1. #1 by Winston on Thursday, 11 October 2012 - 10:00 am

    One thing is certain.
    The devils in the Devils’ Party must be sweating rivers of cold sweat with the GE so close and the possibility of being dethroned almost certain.
    I suggest that LKS start a count down of the number of days to the date the next GE must be held, i.e. 27th June, 2013.

  2. #2 by Godfather on Thursday, 11 October 2012 - 10:01 am

    Mamakthir expunged the word “shame” from the education syllabus a long time ago.

  3. #3 by Godfather on Thursday, 11 October 2012 - 10:14 am

    the quote of the year must go to Najib for his speech at the anti-corruption symposium. A man who can preach clean and untainted governance while being the head of the most corrupt party in this country’s history has to be an Oscar nominee for next year’s awards.

  4. #4 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 11 October 2012 - 10:38 am

    First and foremost, the Auditor-General’s Annual Report is now buried somewhere and forgotten. Maybe it will open a lot of cans of worms, maybe it won’t but it is now ‘lost’ from public scrutiny.

    Secondly, the five Hangs of early Malacca folklore were actually Hang Li Po’s relatives, some claim, not locals. They are currently ‘renovating’ Tuah’s grave, if it is indeed his grave. Maybe we should take the opportunity to see if his remains have Chinese DNA or will it be ‘transformed’ into some local’s. Maybe the Hangs really didn’t exist as the Chinese do not have any records of this princess Hang and the 5 Hangs. Maybe the Princess was really a mail-order bride. Malacca was mentioned only in passing in the Chinese annals as some backwater port which paid tributes and received protection from the Middle Kingdom which their great Admiral ChengHe (the eunuch) and his merry men came to stop over for provisions, for some ‘recreation’ for his men (not he) and to remind the Sultan who is ‘da boss’ and to pay his ‘protection money’ on time. That was in the early 1400s.

    Thirdly and which is quite puzzling, Malacca celebrated ‘Malacca 750’ last weekend. 750 ? What happened in 1262 anybody know? We always thought Malacca was founded in 1400 or thereabouts by that rogue, murderous prince on the run from Palembang or somewhere over there. Is Malaccan history being re-written in favour of some newly-discovered Sultan Ali Rustam I who ‘founded’ it in 1262 ? Are we missing something here about this ‘750’ thing ? Maybe Ng Yen Yen is Princess Hang Li Po’s descendent and she was try to promote Malacca 750 Tourism.

    Fourthly, how do you verify that there were 130,00 people at the wedding reception? By the number of plates used? Many came with their families for the free breakfast and stayed on for the free lunch, tea and dinner and also ‘ta-paos’. Did they uses Rais’ people-counting ‘agak-agak’ technology, BERNAMA’s photographers’ photo-shop creativity, Utusan’s limbo-twisting reporters and other ‘1Malaysia Boleh’ means?

    We did have quite an eventful week or two recently, didn’t we?

  5. #5 by yhsiew on Thursday, 11 October 2012 - 1:38 pm

    ///A feast for 130,000 people no less, which Ali says cost him ‘a mere’ RM600k. Indeed, a feast which, according to an alleged memo, was partly ‘sponsored’ in the form of equipment and personnel belonging to the Malacca state authorities.///

    That is what Dmitri Vlassis called “serious efforts” at tackling corruption by the Malaysian government!

  6. #6 by waterfrontcoolie on Thursday, 11 October 2012 - 4:21 pm

    It is so sad that we are prepared to sell our ‘Air Muka’ for a song. They think pride and respect can be gotten just by demanding for it; base on their ability to buy everything based on corrupted monies. This is the yardstick by which they think everyone should be judged. They have sunken so low that they still stand TALL in their own perception of things around. They even enact law based on the final clause that the Minister in his Wisdom may do such and such action. This has been part of the whole process of achieving the sole objective of cleaning up the national coffer; that has been the discretionary power given to all the Ministers. So when Cow-gate happened, no member of the Cabinet dare to say anything! It is MY PORTFOLIO meaning What I do is my business! As usual, they will continue Business as usual come the next GE! That is why, they will never change the education policy to produce smarter Malaysians, this will destroy their one aim: to COW ALL Malaysians!

  7. #7 by monsterball on Thursday, 11 October 2012 - 5:37 pm

    To me…the good news and bad news have gone on for 4 years.
    The good news are that PR is able to exposed and defend all the lies thrown at them.
    The bad news is that we have an unelected PM…and his goons keep lying and deceiving Malaysians for votes.
    The bad news is that the longer Najib delay the 13th GE…shows Umno B is defending….defending..defending….and when a Govt. is defending….it has many things to hide.
    The good news is that vast Malaysians are calm and composed and will take to the streets…demanding a clean government with no violence and fear.
    The bad news….Najib has come to the end of the road soon…..must have 13th GE…latest April 2013.
    Will the 13th GE result be good news or bad news for Malaysians????
    Judging the long long delays by Najib….it seems so clear…. very good news for all Malaysians wanting a change of government.

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