Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mr. Bean, Death, and Taxes

I can’t help it, but on more than one occasion, it’s been difficult not to have the image of the Rowan Atkinson character, Mr. Bean, come to mind while watching, listening or reading some of the comments of Abdullah Badawi. The most recent instance of this seemed to be during his address to the Malaysian Student Leaders Summit. Apparently, he wasn’t even in tune with the title of his speech! Beyond that, the hollowness of his comments in response to the students’ questions seemed to reflect contempt for the intelligence of the students. (see Malaysiakini)

I will admit, it’s difficult for me to decide if the Badawi I am watching or listening to is the real Badawi or if he’s simply putting on an act. Either way, it’s a rather disturbing and unsettling thought. Could our prime minister really be serious about some of the public pronouncements he makes? And does he really expect that the public is so gullible as to take it all in?

He comments – with seeming naivety - on an on-going police ‘investigation’ of an alleged sodomy case and prejudices the case with bizarre public pronouncements. And despite the nakedly transparent political motivation for this pursuit of Anwar, the prime minister, with a Mr. Bean like persona of artlessness and innocence, in a not so tacit fashion gives his blessings to this supposedly legitimate police investigation. How, in the name of justice can we expect such an investigation, where the political establishment doesn’t even attempt to disguise its prejudice about the matter, to have any ounce of credibility to it? But yet the prime minster, in a Mr. Bean like haze and stupor, seemingly finds nothing problematic about the process.

So, in light of a politically motivated ploy to bring down Anwar, the prime minister in fact utters the words that: ‘No one will stop him [Anwar] from contesting [in the impending by-elections in Permatang Pauh].’ I suppose we’re also to believe that the postponement of the court hearing regarding the Kulim-Bandar Baru parliamentary seat really had nothing to do with the possibility that Anwar may have opted to run in that by-election if that constituency has to re-vote.

Let’s see, was it Badawi, who told us earlier this year that he had no plans to dissolve parliament in February? Was it also Badawi and his BN who told us that there would be no fuel price increases after the March 8 general elections or that the average person would not be adversely affected by it?

So, now he tells us that ‘no one will stop Anwar from contesting’?

Clearly, this regime has no credibility. Like death and taxes, there is no uncertainty about its credibility problem.

G. Krishnan