Friday, September 12, 2008

Dark Clouds Over Malaysia?




The punishment meted on the Umno Bukit Bendera chief, Datuk Ahmad Ismail, generally perceived as too drastic, has made the Umno president and premier, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Pak Lah), too much a caricature of power to be redeemable.

Now, two days after, we are suddenly told Malaysia Today Blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin was arrested under the ISA and three newspapers were asked to show cause, meaning the security situation is under some threat.

Are the events inter-related and the threat is coming from tensions that have been rising since the March general elections and the June fuel price hike? We are not given enough to even guess intelligently.

To make matters worse, Singapore issued unfriendly restrictions affecting Malaysian travel, causing security to loom more important than it could actually be.

On Wednesday the Umno Supreme Council, under pressure from Gerakan and MCA, sentenced Ahmad Ismail by a split-decision to three years suspension for what cannot be anymore than name calling of Malaysian Chinese as “Asian Jews” and as “squatters” (setinggan?).

With all 13 Umno divisions in Penang (including his) giving Pak Lah the butt over the issue the Gerakan raised, the prime minister and party president should have known better than to push as hard as he did to punish the party divisional leader.

The Umno leader was suspended for three years and relinquished of all his political and social positions by the Umno Supreme Council on Wednesday.

But what did Ahmad actually say during the Permatang Pauh by-election campaign which seemed to have extremely offended Gerakan nobody cared enough to inform the people.

All that’s known is the fact a vernacular newspaper had dedicated three paragraphs to what Ahmad was alleged to have said.

Now, as a result of the three para report, Gerakan, which was mauled in the 2008 general elections, wanted Ahmad detained without trial for saying ‘the Chinese in Malaysia are squatters and cannot expect equality vis-à-vis the Malays and Bumiputras’, or words to that effect.

The Umno Deputy President, Datuk Seri Najib Razak was asked to apologize on Umno’s behalf and Pak Lah came in strongly against Ahmad, only to have the 13 Umno divisions in Penang firmly backing the divisional head.

The result was the party president appearing more baroque than Charles Chaplin could have been to parody political leadership on the screen.

Ahmad Ismail was called to appear before the Umno Supreme Council and punished while the army and police were asked to warn the people against fueling the tensed situation. But what was it all about?

To the observer it was quite apparently a political skit issuing from the tantrums of a party and coalition that lost miserably in the recent general elections. Someone has to be the source of a ruckus.

But how terrible were the things Ahmad could have uttered has become a question that’s gaping like the Batu Caves, causing Professor Dr. Adnan Nawang from the UPSI to conclude we are dealing with Bebalism (tantrum).

Well-known intellectual, Professor Dr. Shamsul Amri of UKM, suggested it could be that the Barisan Nasional may have to lose power first, like it had been with the Congress in India and LDP in Japan before it can regain the stature and the sobriety it has lost.

The two reactions simply say people are at a lost. The conflict is between members of BN components in Penang and not with the Opposition.

It could not have been anything more than name calling, the semantics of which is uncertain since we do not know what had, in fact, been said and meant.

Everyone knows most of the Chinese in Malaysia are citizens and there really isn’t any movement in Umno or in any other Malay political organization that’s wishing away the rights the non-Malay citizens enjoy.

In any case you would need a two-third majority in parliament to try such a stunning constitutional reform, the same as what it would take to remove the Malay Special Rights clauses in the Constitution.

How could it be that the Gerakan found the name calling as offensive apparently defeats some of the best brains in Malaysia.

Is there, indeed, such a state of paranoia for some Chinese in Gerakan to believe Umno will, for the heck of it, curtail the rights of non-Malay citizens and employ apartheid?

Hence, either it is Bebalism we are facing or some cunning maverick is trying hard to find a reason to shut the doors to the alarming possibility some BN MPs may crossover to the Pakatan Rakyat.

A third possibility is that the components in the state that lost badly cannot any longer hold together and its time for the fireworks display before leadership change ensues.

The people in the skit are otherwise good persons. Neither Koh Tsu Khoon, nor Ong Kah Ting or Ahmad Ismail is the ogre-type.

But it must be tough to be losing jobs, money and power in a single go like the sun suddenly refused to rise after March 2008.

Golf mates leave you, neighbors let their dogs out on you and your wife wears her le masque in bed. Husbands take to the hookah, oozing smoke like they are on fire and hence, Gerakan Women’s Wing wanted Ahmad locked up under the ISA. Who’s bad?

Ahmad was reported to have said Umno (meaning his division and/or Penang Umno) is happy to work with the MCA and that the Gerakan can quit the BN if that is what it wants to do.

What communitarian impulse and output could that ever be? What “racism” do we have in Ahmad and the Malays when the term racist must assume race superiority, like Nazism, or White Superiority that called the Niggers and colored the sons of Sam.

Have you heard any Malay who thinks the Malays are genetically or racially superior? Have you? Have you met any Chinese who thinks and believes he belongs to a superior race?

Unless it is Tsu Khoon’s and Ahmad’s joint idea of humor to rock the boat and cause Pak Lah to slip overboard, I have to agree with Dr. Adnan Nawang, that Gerakan is looking like a poor loser.

It was a split decision in the Umno Supreme Council and the end of the story may not have yet been told.

In the meantime many in Umno are happy with the way Muhyiddin Yassin is speaking up for the members and the people.

An Umno divisional leader called me to say he hopes more and more in Umno will do as Muhyiddin is doing.

But what will be happening in the country now that the ISA is back and several newspapers have been asked to show cause or get clamped? ---a. ghani ismail, 12 Sept. 2008

1 comment:

Sans said...

I think the general consensus is that the punishment to Ahmad Ismail is too mild. He should have been expelled from Umno. A suspension means that his views are still acceptable.

Now the reporter who reported what he said has beena rrested under the ISA.

So it is a crime to report what he said but not to say it?

Hai....My Malaysia....what is happening to you?