Thursday, August 7, 2008

UMNO: Forget the Kain Pelikat, Bring Out the Moolah!

When this Anwar Ibrahim saga was barely a few days old, I noted in ‘Let the Games Begin,’, that you can most certainly count on the UMNO regime to employ some ‘well-choreographed theatrics’ in their new round of assault on him. In the weeks since then, we sure saw a fascinating game-plan by the regime unfold as the political machinery and devious schemers and puppeteers behind the scene worked on their crafty game and begin to tighten the ring around Anwar.

We saw all kinds of public posturing by the prime minister and his cronies indulging in doublespeak, public grand-standing, and flexing of their political muscle. Sometimes we heard bizarre public pronouncements – for example about Anwar’s DNA – from the prime minister; sometimes we saw – through public statements of the regime - what amounted to blatant instances where, what should have been an impartial investigation of the sodomy accusation against Anwar, was – to put it mildly – prejudiced and grossly compromised.

Well, it would obviously be an understatement to say that at this stage, things are sure heating up again. Now that Anwar has been charged and the impending by-election for the Permatang Pauh parliament seat has been conveniently set for a weekday, on August 26, I suppose the prime minister would once again have us believe that it was quite fortuitous that the Election Commission decided that a weekday was the most feasible to hold the by-election, instead of the conventional practice of scheduling an election on the weekend. And of course, he claims he’s not had any part in decision-making which has led up to formally charging Anwar.

Of course, we’re all familiar with the prime minister's disclaimers and denials. If his public approval ratings are any indication, he too has to know that most sensible Malaysians are not the least bit taken by this charade by the regime and especially the prime minister’s claim that he has personally had a “hands-off” policy on the entire matter.

It’s evident that the regime will do what it has to do. Desperate as it is, we’ll probably see a hand-picked judge who, like the prime minster and his regime, will not inspire any public confidence. In fact, I can’t help but wonder, aside from the stroking this judge will get from the regime, what other ‘fruits’ will fall into this person’s lap for being the dutiful servant of the regime. As a matter of fact, much like watching a bad Dikir Barat troupe led by a bad singer, we may be forced to endure a pathetic performance and demonstration of our now notoriously compromised and corrupted judiciary. Only of course in this case, we’ll see the regime continue to make a mockery of the judiciary. Oh! and there’s the matter of a man’s life being at stake – as is our collective future.

But before we get to that part of the regime’s strategy to destroy Anwar, I suppose there’s the little matter of a by-election to contend with. So, while the prime minster is apparently familiar with the practice of distributing kain pelikat to show his ‘appreciation’ to voters, would you be the least bit surprised if his political machinery in Permatang Pauh will just do away with parting with bundles of kain pelikat? Oh, no, don’t get me wrong! I’m not suggesting those days are over. On the contrary, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps they ought to not dilly-dally with such petty incentives; instead, go straight to the bottom line and dole out some heavy bundles of our crisp and bright ringgit. Surely there must be some sentiment among the sophisticated strategists in the prime minster’s circle who are expressing the view that given this is an uphill battle, why not bring out all the heavy guns – or in this case the heavy suitcases of cash.

I won’t hold out hope for the judiciary, but let’s hope the people of Permatang Pauh will have the fortitude to make sure that justice and integrity prevails, and in the process, teach the Umnoputeras the true meaning of living democratically.

G. Krishnan