A wedding and two gatherings

By Mariam Mokhtar
Mar 30, 2015

The Kita Lawan protest route from Sogo to the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) is only a few kilometres long, but the contrast between the crowds at each end, typifies the great divide found in Najib Abdul Razak’s ‘1Malaysia’.

At the Sogo end, protesters in the Kita Lawan rally gathered, most wearing black. The policemen on stand-by were ready to pounce and arrest them if they ‘misbehaved’.

In stark contrast, the gathering at KLCC comprised the glitterati of Malaysian society and international guests. They had been invited to the wedding reception of Najib Abdul Razak’s daughter, Nooryana Najwa.

Najib and his wife, the self-styled First Lady of Malaysia (FLOM), and their guests were dressed in their best finery and bedecked in bling, Birkin and Manolo Blahniks. Nooryana’s marriage to the Kazakhstan citizen Daniyar Kessikbayev has both enraged and excited the rakyat. Policemen formed-up in three ranks to protect the ‘elites’, from the rakyat.

The demonstrators travelled to Sogo, by public transport, before walking to KLCC. They had gathered to demand the release of jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. They were outraged by the goods and services tax (GST), 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the rising cost of everyday items, and the current sweep on opposition politicians and social activists.

The Kita Lawan crowd came from all walks of life. Najib’s ‘1Malaysia’ was better represented at Sogo than at KLCC.

The KLCC elite were from the great and the not-so-good. They arrived at KLCC in chauffeured, air-conditioned comfort, along roads cleared by the police.

Guests rarely attend obscenely ostentatious Malay weddings merely for the company, the food or the atmosphere. One can hardly enjoy oneself in a hall of several hundred guests, all attempting to outdo one another in bling and fancy ‘baju’. The presence of royalty dampens the atmosphere, because protocol must be observed. By the time the bride and groom work their way around the ballroom to mix and mingle, they will have sore wrists.

The main thing on the minds of the wedding guests was curiosity. Meeting Nooryana and her groom was secondary. The overriding need was to see how the FLOM had arranged the no-expense-spared wedding of the decade. Leaked photos of the venue show that they were probably not disappointed.

Guests and the host families shared one nagging doubt. They feared that they might have to share the joyous occasion with the Kita Lawan protestors. They need not have worried. The inspector-general of police (IGP) performed admirably and is in line for another decoration and medal, to add to the several adorning his ample chest.

Underestimating the rakyat’s determination

At Sogo, the protesters were determined to continue the rally, despite the arrest of key Kita Lawan leaders. The IGP wrongly assumed that the protesters would act like headless chickens. Khalid Abu Bakar was wrong! He underestimated the rakyat’s determination. The rain and the IGP’s threats were not going to stop them.

The previous night, PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu was arrested in a commando-style raid, with armed police wearing balaclavas, as he was having supper. The IGP probably believes Mat Sabu, as he is fondly known, to be as crafty as James Bond in evading capture.

In Kuala Lumpur, that same night, Hishamuddin Rais (left), the philosopher, playwright and social activist, was kidnapped in dramatic fashion on a major road near Dataran Merdeka. Witnesses thought that Hisham’s kidnappers were triad members, or possibly Tiga Line gangsters, alleged mates of Home Minister Zahid Hamidi. Hisham’s attackers were later identified as policemen.

These police thugs were enacting the IGP’s alleged new standard operating procedure (SOP) for arresting people. First, the person concerned is trailed by plain clothes policemen on motorbikes and in cars. Then, several of them will rush the victim, and bundle him into a waiting car. The car speeds off with the motorbikes as outriders.

Malaysia’s best education in the world programmes us to be un-inquisitive, not to question and not be critical. Several allegations have been made about the cost of this wedding. If the exclusive boxed wedding invitation and scroll were alleged to have cost a lot of money, just imagine the value of the ‘hantaran’ and other expenses.

No wonder Najib is the finance minister. He can magically stretch his monthly wage of RM23,000 to fund this grand event. It is particularly galling that he asks the rakyat to tighten their belts.

Despite the allegations in the New York Times, he has not revealed the source of his inherited wealth. The rakyat knows his father died as a man of modest means. Najib has not denied the allegations that the FLOM was using the rakyat-funded government jet to sort out last minute wedding preparations, last December.

The great wealth, social and class divide between Malaysians is as wide as the chasm between Sogo and KLCC. Only the rakyat can bridge this gap.

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO).

  1. #1 by undertaker888 on Wednesday, 1 April 2015 - 8:33 am

    Do they need to pay GST? Asking us to tighten belts, but their bellies have overstretch their belts 1000 times over.

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