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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Josh Hong: Voting crooks out of power is not betrayal

Josh Hong said voting crooks out of power is not betrayal. Read his analysis of the political situation in Sarawak in particular and Malaysia in general in his opinion piece reproduced below with kind permission of Malaysiakini. May I also add this comment which is in response to those that feel that their better fortune is due to the largesse of the UMNO/BN and they are grateful. I have this to say - yes be grateful to leaders like Tengku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein Onn etc but not to Dr Mahathir, Abdullah Badawi, Najib because it was the wise leadership of the earlier leaders which brought us to where we was and it was the later that destroyed what they had built. No I don't think we should be grateful to Dr Mahathir for what he did to our country crucial institutions especially to the once respected Judiciary, for the decay of the country started with him.

Saving grace for Sarawak? by Josh Hong:

In trying to understand how it lost seven state assembly seats in the 2006 state election and the Sibu parliamentary seat last year, all that the Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) could come up with was that the electorate had been hoodwinked by the opposition.

The party is already in strange waters. Once steeped in a leftist tradition buttressed by an ostensibly multiracial platform, SUPP is nowadays nothing more than a Sarawakian answer to the MCA.

Dominant are the Chinese tycoons high up in the party's echelon, who became filthy rich at the expense of the state's natural bounties and resources, not to mention the indigenous communities forced off their native land.

NONEThree decades of uninterrupted rule by Abdul Taib Mahmud - the white-haired Rajah - have ensured his regime prospered, along with the Chinese cronies, with unbridled corruption now paining the general population.

Increasingly under pressure to account for the loss of SUPP influence over Taib Mahmud's uninhibited greed and power, SUPP organising secretary Peter Chin Fah Kui was compelled to declare recently that SUPP had never betrayed Chinese interests in Sarawak.

The protestation of innocence, of course, failed to strike a chord with his Chinese audience. More accurate would be an admission that the SUPP had always safeguarded the interests of the Chinese tycoons, but not those of the ordinary folk.

What is going on now in the Land of the Hornbills is in fact a contagion of the political malaise in the peninsula. For many, the BN has become too corrupt and arrogant. Umno, the lynchpin party, successfully consolidated its power across the state apparatus, while allowing other component parties certain concessions in business and trade.

The same model was readily adopted by Taib Mahmud in the 1980s. By the time the so-called coalition partners realised they existed at the mercy of both Umno and Taib Mahmud, it was already too late to reverse their fortunes.

Despite the political tsunami of March 2008, Umno will not take it lying down. Bereft of ideology and acutely aware of its own economic mismanagement, the longest-ruling party in Southeast Asia knows full well it cannot compete with the opposition alliance on an equal footing.

For the sake of survival, Umno, Taib Mahmud and all those whose political futures are on the line can only resort to racial sentiments and lewd politics.

The argument of racial betrayal comes in handy. For all his pretension on 'transformation', Najib's Umno never refrains from portraying non-Malays and non-Muslims as power-crazy demons.

In Sarawak, Taib Mahmud is going from one place to another warning his Melanau constituents that they must not risk voting in a Christian chief minister - Baru Bian that is.

The reasoning behind is crass and simple: corrupt we may be, we remain your trusted bastards.

The latest 'exposè' of a sex video to implicate Anwar Ibrahim was clearly done with the connivance of some powerful individuals within the government. Or else, how would one explain the seamless arrangement for the 'premiere' to be held at the state-owned Carcosa Seri Negara?

Legal consequences that can't be taken lightly

Any respectable international hotel chain - from Hilton, Mandarin Oriental to JW Marriot - will not permit this to happen, for such an act will tarnish its good name, perhaps beyond rescue. It also entails legal consequences that cannot be taken lightly.

While one can scarcely imagine the Blair House in Washington being used by Democrats to denounce Republicans, Najib Abdul Razak sees no wrong in the once prestigious Carcosa Seri Negara having served as a venue for a despicable screening.

The prime minister may have played no part in the jiggery-pokery, but his failure to condemn the masterminds speaks volumes of his mendacious pledge for reform.

Even the paranoid Chinese government would not toy with having a 'steamy session' at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in order to discredit prominent dissidents. It may try other means, but not by stooping so low. Authoritarianism need not be so tasteless like ours.

Some argue the Malaysian public should ignore the episode and focus on real issues. I agree, but only to a certain extent.

Gutter politics had begun to flourish ever since Dr Mahathir Mohamad framed up all the charges against Anwar in 1998 and subjected the judiciary to executive tutelage.

As Umno goes for the jugular in killing off Anwar's chances of making a final comeback, implications of the incessant character assassinations are far-reaching.

Its message to the Malaysian populace is loud and clear: dare challenge my hegemony and off to jail you go. Just look at what is happening to Anwar.

Scaring citizens on 'divine right' to rule

Yes, it is the psychological impact that Umno is working at. By scaring the citizens into accepting their 'divine right' to rule, Najib, Hishammuddin Hussein, Muhyiddin Yassin, Taib Mahmud and Mukhriz Mahathir can easily carry their 'state monopoly' into posterity.

So can freeloaders like the MCA, Gerakan and the MIC, as well as the SUPP. Oh, not to forget Ibrahim Ali and Bung Moktar Bung Radin, who are not only downright male chauvinists but also epitomes of gutter politics.

For this reason alone, one must continue to speak about the sex video, but with a view to exposing the seeds of deceit sown by Umno and to expunging political fears that remain pervasive in our society.

But we must also not neglect other abuses and excesses of institutional power, the latest being the tragic death of Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed at the Kuala Lumpur MACC office two days ago. As powers are becoming more colluded across the South Chine Sea, Sarawakians and Sabahans are no longer shielded from political catastrophes.

Umno and Taib Mahmud will still deter Malaysians from talking about these issues by all means, while their allies are not in a position to effect real changes, both because the latter are not only politically emasculated, but also because their personal interests are too entrenched.

Hence, voting these crooks out cannot be seen as betrayal, but an act that may turn out to be a saving grace in the years to come.

JOSH HONG studied politics at London Metropolitan University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. A keen watcher of domestic and international politics, he longs for a day when Malaysians will learn and master the art of self-mockery, and enjoy life to the full in spite of politicians.

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