Saturday, November 28, 2009

Where’s the Smoking Gun, You Ask?

Wouldn’t it be awesome if an NGO or public advocacy organisation such as Wikileaks were to somehow get a hold of the SMS messages and exchanges between Najib, Razak Baginda, and any other ones related to the Bala saga and the events associated with it?

Recently, it was reported in the international news media that the website Wikileaks has published over half a million text messages sent around the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. Now it’s incredible that that such information is even out there.

Well, anyway, I couldn’t help but just wonder: Wouldn’t that be a huge revelation if a website like Wikileaks also came across and published SMS messages related to the Bala saga? Perhaps we would after all find out if there was a message, for example, on Razak Baginda’s mobile the day he was arrested, purportedly from Najib, informing Razak Baginda that he was ‘seeing the IGP at 11am that day and to be cool.’

The realists among us know all too well that elephants will fly before the AG’s office can be expected to judiciously and conscientiously investigate and prosecute according to the laws of the land any criminal wrongdoing related to the alleged coercion and intimidation of Bala in July 2008. Indeed, as Amrick Singh Sidhu has reminded us, it was highly unusual, to say the least, to have the so-called trial of Razak Baginda unfold as it did.

For example, the former had the following to say in a recent interview:

I think the first question that ought to be asked is why it was necessary to change all the players in this trial even before it started? No doubt this is the prerogative of the accused in their choice of counsel, and of course the Attorney General's Chambers in the appointment of prosecutors it feels more suitable. Of course a judge can be changed as well, but all three parties at once seems a little odd.

With all due respect to Americk, to say that the above development during Razak Baginda’s trial was ‘odd’ would be putting the matter too mildly.

And so, given past practices – dating back over the previous two Umno regimes – why should we expect any different from this current one? And especially when the allegations involved in this case go all the way to the very top of the regime.

The conduct of the AG’s office on this matter is no doubt an issue of grave consequence. As much as there’s unlikely to be a real effort on the part of the regime’s machinery to get to the bottom of this, each passing day serves to remind us all about how bankrupt this regime has become. The current deafening silence may morph into a well-choreographed legal and bureaucratic song and dance (much like the Baginda trial) to seal the matter as tightly as possible.

Given how closely the executive, the civil service, and the judiciary walk lock-in-step, there’ll be little room for much by way of real culpability to be assigned where appropriate.

But don’t get me wrong. It’s not all futile. Having this crisis covered and debated in the alternative media is imperative. In fact, given the public’s skepticism about the trustworthiness and independence of the judiciary, the court of public opinion is the only remaining arena where the rakyat has any chance of assessing the ‘truth.’

And of course it goes without saying that the mainstream media will, as long as possible, ignore the crisis; and only spin it to stack the decks for the regime, when it becomes impossible to stall and ignore the crisis any further. This is a time-tested strategy of the mainstream media and we know it all too well, don’t we?

So while I’m all in favour of the alternative media ensuring that the public rightly gets to ask relevant questions of public import, it would just be so ‘explosive’, would it not, if a website such as Wikileaks or some other citizens’ group came across the proverbial smoking gun in this affair?

G. Krishnan