OUTSPOKEN: The horde of foreign newsmen gathered in Kuala Lumpur the past two weeks accomplished something which international observers, who are tasked with monitoring Malaysian elections and reporting on the workings of the democratic process, have been unable to. The reporters asked probing questions and refused to be fobbed off with inane answers. Within days, the details of flight MH370 which Malaysian leaders wanted to hide from the world have been laid bare.
Past protests by the rakyat have proven ineffective in eliciting change. The Malaysian government consistently shrugs off allegations of power abuse, corruption and injustice. According to the authorities, Malaysia is a fully functioning democracy, its laws intact and its people happy.
The reign of arrogance may finally be coming to an end. When foreign newsmen converged on Malaysia to cover MH370, the incident shone a spotlight on our ministers, military leaders and the heads of institutions. Local reporters are used to being fobbed off with a combination of excuses and lies. Ironically it is MH370 and its international coverage which will seal our government’s fate.
Leaders have been caught fumbling, like primary school children being asked to explain why their school work has not been submitted. The handling and crisis management have been marred by incompetence, retractions and delays. Previous lies and cover-ups are now exposed in spectacular fashion. It is ironic that the Malaysian trademark, MAS, which is itself the product of poor management and inefficient use of public funds, has laid bare the workings of an inept government.
Questions about police investigations and the role of the IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar are significant. Khalid has brought disrepute to the few principled men in the force, who we still respect for their dedication to duty. Khalid’s incompetence, which was exposed when he was questioned about the stolen passports used by two Iranians on MH370, showed that he was clearly out of his depth. He will have to learn the meaning of the words “taking responsibility”.
His response, which angered Malaysians and the international community, was “Why ask me? Ask Immigration or ask Interpol.”
The arrogant Khalid, whose police force allegedly acts as a personal service for Umno-Baru, wilted under international scrutiny. Umno-Baru is unchallenged each time it decides to bully ordinary citizens, but its reign might finally be coming to an end.
The international community has finally been shown an inept Malaysian government. At the same time, much work must also be done to increase awareness among Malaysians, both students and professionals, living overseas. Some of these people are unaware of what happens in their own homeland. Others live in denial.
These ill-informed Malaysians will receive a significant insight into their country’s problems, when in late March and early April a group of Malaysian activists will travel throughout England and give performances, and present talks to Malaysian audiences.
The gang of activists comprises six young men and one woman, and will be led by the veteran activist and comedian, Hishammuddin Rais. “Uno Malaysia” is a Political and Cultural Exhibition which hopes to influence Malaysian minds. Uno Malaysia poses a strong challenge to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s now defunct “One Malaysia”. Student activist Adam Adli is also part of Uno Malaysia.
The student organisation, “Kesatuan Penuntut Undang-undang Malaysia di United Kingdom dan Eire” (KPUM) or “United Kingdom and Eire Law Students Union”, together with Suaram International will promote Uno Malaysia’s series of talks, forums and workshops at various universities in England, to spread awareness among Malaysians. (http://www.kpum.org/unomalaysia/)
Uno Malaysia will perform a play called “Bilik Sulit”, (The Secret Chamber), which depicts the suffering of those who were detained under the ISA. National laureate Datuk A Samad Said described the motive behind the play as, “They (the authorities) are trying to maintain their power in an easy way, they pick you up, they do not allow a trial and then they torture you.”
Uno Malaysia will receive a significant boost when Mat Sabu from PAS joins some of the events. An exhibition of Zunar’s cartoons will also be staged.
The activists hope to explore the topics of racism, religion, student activism, women’s and environmental issues, and how these issues are used to create divisions in Malaysian society. They believe that staging plays can make Malaysians more aware of the political environment. Uno Malaysia will encourage student participation and involvement in the country. The student activists will also attempt to learn from the experiences of the students in UK.
MH370 opened the eyes of the world to the decades of abuse, to which ordinary, loyal and law-abiding citizens have been subjected by Umno-Baru, their BN partners, and their cronies.
MH370 must be the turning point for Malaysia and all Malaysians, but the push by “Uno Malaysia” may provide the final onslaught from which Umno-Baru will never recover.
Mariam Mokhtar is "a Malaysian who dares to speak the truth."
~ The Ant Daily