The grand self-proclamation of “Malaysia, the Best Democracy in the World”, with its fantastic education system which rivals the British, American and German systems is a myth designed for die-hard Umno Baru supporters. This fairy-tale was shattered by the disappearance of MH370.
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, like the prime ministers before him, has let down the nation, but the investigation into MH370 has trashed Malaysia’s reputation.
We need a cull of the political class to regain our credibility as a nation. We should start with the following initiates of the ‘Hall of Shame’. Politicians head the list, then civil servants. If the civil servants were to be replaced before the politicians, the new ones would be corrupted by their political masters, who dictate to them.
Malaysia has been on auto-pilot for several decades and the nation has been performing like a rudderless aeroplane. MH370 signals the beginning of the end of Umno Baru.
The Malaysian Hall of Shame
Number One: Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak. Two words describe the MH370 “investigations”: Mismanaged. Mishandled. (MM).
MH370 may have been an unprecedented incident but the crisis management team was shambolic, with several people issuing contradictory official statements. Our confidence and trust has been shaken to the core despite all the big talk and the hundreds of billions of ringgits spent on military hardware and sophisticated equipment. We may have the best machinery that money can buy, but are monkeys operating them?
In the first few days of MH370’s disappearance, Najib and his wife, the self-styled ‘First Lady of Malaysia’ (FLOM), sought to gain cheap publicity by “weeping with the families of the passengers and crew of MH370”.
Did Najib make a premature announcement that MH370 had crashed into the Southern Indian Ocean, based on one mathematical interpretation by one company? The local press are conditioned not to ask awkward questions but foreign journalists demand answers.
Number Two:Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. Hishammuddin (left in photo) justified Malaysia’s mismanagement of the MH370 investigations by saying that history will judge Malaysia well.
People ask, “Who writes the history books if not the Malaysian cabinet and their proteges?” Hishammuddiin told the families of passengers and crew of MH370 that miracles do happen. The act of giving false hope is as bad as trading on people’s grief.
Number Three: Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. His response to the stolen passport fiasco at KLIA is symptomatic of a sick nation. He told parliament, “Furthermore, Interpol’s information of lost (passports) may slow down the process of immigration checks at counters.”
Zahid prefers speed to efficiency and safety/security concerns. Interpol has since given Zahid a dressing down and said the checks take 0.2 seconds per passport.
Malaysia is a hub for human trafficking and people have alleged that our police and immigration officials are involved. Will Zahid clean up his department?
Number Four: Deputy Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Bakri. Abdul Rahim told Parliament that the RMAF “assumed” that Flight MH370 had been ordered to turn back by the civilian air traffic controllers.
Following a public outcry, he backpedalled and said that HE had made this assumption. So did the RMAF make this assumption or was Abdul Rahim forced to retract his statement. His U-turn is typical of the tactics of the government of Malaysia.
Lack of communication
Number Five: The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman. Azharuddin contradicted the statements of the home ministry and the inspector-general of polcie (IGP). More worrying than this is the lack of communication between the military and civil aviation authorities.
The MH370 investigation has lacked transparency and is mired in intrigue. This incident has reminded us of the question, by the opposition MP Nurul Izzah Anwar in June 2012, about the roles of the DCA and the Transport Ministry in the award of the contract for the supply of the RM128.4 million air traffic control system to a minster’s family through “closed tender”.
Three weeks ago, we were told that the final words from the cockpit were “All right, good night”. In the past few days, the DCA issued a correction and said the final words were “Good night. Malaysian Three-Seven-Zero”.
How can the public be expected to put their faith in the DCA or the investigative bodies with such a simple error as this? So what else is wrong?
Number Six: MAS CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya. When the reputations of the pilot and co-pilot on MH370 were being trashed, Ahmad Jauhari (right) failed to defend his men. Although he did speak on their behalf, he waited several days and the damage was already done. His failure to act immediately demoralised all of the MAS employees.
The sending of a text message to the families of the passengers and crew of MH370, ahead of Najib’s announcement that MH370 had gone down in the southern Indian Ocean, is symptomatic of the poor customer relations in MAS. Many people have previously stated that their complaints are rarely acknowledged or addressed.
Number Seven: Chief of the Armed Forces Zulkifeli Mohd Zin. He despatched ships from Lumut on the night MH370 disappeared. He then claimed that a C-130 plane was sent to scout the area the following morning.
What made Zulkifeli confident that he was scouring a potential crash site, thousands of kilometres from where Najib had directed others in the search and rescue (SAR) operations? Is Zulkifeli hiding something from us?
Number Eight: Chief of the RMAF Rodzali Daud. An unidentified plane was picked up by military radar around 200 nautical miles northwest of Penang in the Straits of Malacca, at about the time MH370 went missing. The military failed to act on this information, wasting both time and opportunity.
Number Nine: IGP Khalid Abu Bakar. When asked about the contradictory descriptions of the men using stolen passports, a dismissive Khalid said, “Why ask me? Ask Immigration, or ask Interpol.”
The defence minister asked everyone to avoid speculation, but Khalid said that his policemen were analysing all the speculation on the Internet to help in the MH370 investigations.
The IGP should focus on facts, rather than investigating speculation and rumour. He should chase criminals, rather than hound opposition politicians and NGOs.
Number Ten: Witch-doctor Ibrahim Mat Zain, or Raja Bomoh. This shaman heaped ridicule on the country when, at the entrance to KLIA, he used his bamboo binoculars and two coconuts to divine that MH370 had been hijacked by elves and the plane was either suspended in mid-air or had crashed into the sea. He should be jailed if he refuses to say who sent him to KLIA, to mock the suffering of the passengers and crew of MH370.
Bonus: It is reported that Najib’s favourite number is 11. When former PM Mahathir Mohamad resigned, he continued to make his presence felt by refusing to hand over the controls of the airship Malaysia, which he was flying to mediocrity. Mahathir completes the list by being the eleventh member of Malaysia’s Hall of Shame.
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO).