Dastardly distractions?

Rom Nain
4th July 2016

It is widely believed now that a snap general election (GE) will be held, possibly as early as in November this year.

Word in the grapevine also is that, leading up to the GE, numerous disruptive strategies will be implemented, meant to distract the people’s attention from the real issues at hand, especially 1MDB.

And to relate everything to race and religion, and, of course, to cripple if not totally destroy an already divided opposition.

That idiotic, evil and dangerous accusation of ‘kafir harbi’ hurled at the DAP (and those who support them) is a clear example of the form of ethno-religious distraction that is, yet again, being employed to demonise the secular political party.

That – and the highly-questionable assertion that DAP is an ethnically-chauvinistic party – has been the stock ammunition of a regime that for many, for a long time, has been devoid of any worthwhile ideas.

Truth be told, if the DAP is a chauvinistic party, what then does that make Umno, the MCA and the MIC?

And what are we to make of the credibility of this particular mufti who made the kafir harbi accusation when one of South-East Asia’s top casino complexes is perched on a hill overlooking his turf and has been there for absolute eons, despite gambling being a sin in Islam?

This aside, the latest attacks on Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng clearly are reflective of this demonising strategy.

I am sure we all believe that it is all purely coincidental that Lim has been charged just a few days after the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) head stepped down and a new one appointed.

It’s coincidental too, I am sure, that, suddenly, convicted criminals like the disgraced former Selangor MB are crawling out of the sewer and are given a voice to speak out against Lim.

And I think we can all agree that it is certainly purely coincidental – and, of course in the ‘national interest’ – that the media (certainly the regime-owned and regime-friendly mainstream press and broadcast media) are urging Lim to take leave or, worse, step down even before he goes to trial.

Indeed, as certain as we are that freedom of expression is alive and kicking in this land.

It is surely, too, purely coincidental that as swiftly as he was arrested and charged, the media started stressing his immediate duty and responsibility and then sought the opinion of anybody and everybody who wishes their fifteen minutes of fame (or, in many cases, shame).

So, for the past couple of days, the inane, leading question that the media have asked especially those who talk about ethical political behaviour and leadership has been: Should Lim Guan Eng take leave or even step down in the wake of these charges?

Best response from Ambiga

And, for me the best, utterly brilliant, response to this question has been that from the highly-respected lawyer and activist, Ambiga Sreenevasan.

Ambiga has been quoted as replying, “Ask me again when the prime minister does.”

Indeed, many find this question galling, not simply because they are blind followers of Lim, which they definitely are not, but because it smacks of hypocrisy and double standards.

Where and when was this question asked by those highly-paid professionals in the mainstream media when Najib became embroiled in the 1MDB scandal?

Indeed, as the scandal has grown and more questions of the PM demand to be asked, where are the dedicated, fearless members of the mainstream media, speaking truth to power?

So, for many of us on the outside, as it were, much, if not all of this sheer wayang designed to distract the people and, at the same time, inflict injury on the opposition – a shock and awe strategy, as it were.

We can, of course, see similarities between this strategy and that used against Anwar Ibrahim right from the beginning. The alleged bag of dirty tricks evidently has not been changed.

Unfortunately, thus far, it seems to have backfired.

When what seems like a record bail of RM1 million was set, within 24 hours the DAP, after a public donation drive, managed to secure the amount.

And the reaction from their opponents, mainly members of this very same regime, has been truly pathetic, accusing the DAP of ‘troubling’ the people of Malaysia, when nobody’s arm was twisted in the first place or a gun held to their heads.

I am just surprised that there has been no accusation that the RM1 million was a foreign donation. Perhaps this is because such an accusation would have hit closer to (their) home.

The point is, if someone is hit with allegedly dubious charges, at a time when the credibility of those making the charges is at an all-time low, Malaysians who believe in fair play – and there are quite many of them – just won’t buy it.

Worse, they feel insulted and appalled by such antics.

A friend wrote that the country has ‘rosak’ when we privilege the questioning of the system over the possibility that Lim may be guilty.

I disagree.

The system most certainly is ‘rosak’. But the fact that we are now questioning it – some, like Bersih, vociferously – is a good sign that a solution must be, and will be, found. ‘Rosak’ will not remain a constant as long as there are people who care for each other and for the country.

What is ‘rosak’ we can – and will – fix.

And as for Lim Guan Eng, let’s just leave it at him being innocent until proven guilty in an untainted court of law.

Yes, untainted.

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.

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