Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The tell-tale signs of an insecure government

27 Feb 10:00 AM

OUTSPOKEN: Four decades ago, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s father, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, fought the communists. Today, Najib fights cartoonists.
Under Najib’s rule, human rights lawyers, academics, cartoonists, a thinking rakyat and the alternative media, have replaced the communists of his father’s era. They are considered the new threats to national security. The reason for the government’s fear is simple. The fear encircles Najib’s government. The PM and his Cabinet are very insecure. They are afraid, of losing power. 
An Umno Baru friend, who claims to be disillusioned with his party’s leadership said, “Zunar was arrested for his tweet, which was highly critical of the judiciary in Sodomy II. The cartoonist said something which the majority of Malaysians are thinking, but those in my party know to be true.” 
His admission is revelatory, even brutally frank.
Ten days after Zunar’s arrest, it was the turn of Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s (PSM) Secretary General, S Arutchelvan to be detained. Ten policemen raided his house, and seized his computer, handphone and modem. Arutchelvan had issued a statement which said that Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction, in Sodomy II, had been a political judgment.
Both had since been released but there is no telling when they would be picked up again.
Najib’s party is imploding. His fiscal measures have failed. He may have jailed his nemesis, Anwar, but his plan backfired and he has created a political martyr. On top of all that, Najib must contain the power struggles within Umno Baru, led by former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Back in Bukit Aman, IGP Khalid Abu Bakar, acting in tandem with Najib, is forced to punish the government critics. He must show the rakyat what will happen to them, if they disagree with the government. This use of force shows a weak government. 
Other tell-tale signs prove that the government is scared, but Umno Baru must put on an act, for the benefit of the Malays, and to show that Umno Baru “protects” Malays and “defends” Islam. Does Allah need a political party to protect Islam? 
Lawyers for Liberty’s Eric Paulsen tweeted that Friday sermons were cultivating extremists and so, to “defend” Islam, the authorities ordered 20 policemen to arrest Paulsen, as he dined. Did the top brass think Paulsen was going to resist arrest and fight off 20 policemen with his chopsticks?
There was a similar show of manpower and force, in 1998, when Mahathir ordered the special police commando unit, clad in black and armed with machine-guns, to burst through the windows of Anwar’s house, to arrest him. They didn’t know the front door was open. 
A few days after the Sodomy II appeal verdict, the Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria insisted that the judiciary was not tainted. He issued a warning that anyone tarnishing the judiciary would be punished. He said he “had to protect the dignity and integrity of the courts.”
Why give a lengthy explanation? If the CJ is correct, there was no need to justify his actions. Was he feeling remorseful or guilty? 
Tan Sri Mohamad Shafee, the Chief Prosecutor in Sodomy II, knows what an Umno Baru audience enjoys; sex and more sex. He has organised a roadshow, so he can titillate his audience with graphic and sordid sexual details, of the imagined trysts between Saiful and Anwar. Why is he besmirching Anwar’s character, especially when Anwar cannot defend himself against these accusations. 
Does Shafee get a thrill from repeating the sexual scenes he claimed took place? How do we know he is telling the truth?  
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin boasted that it was payback time for Umno Baru to attack Anwar’s supporters. His actions confirm that Umno Baru fears Anwar more now, than when he was a free man.
That is not all. Umno Baru is just as fearful of the threat posed by the rakyat, someone like Zunar, who is neither a politician, nor an NGO. Zunar represents the freedom of expression in our country and he is a fearless fighter for the many freedoms which have been stolen from us.
Zunar’s drawings are poignant, simple, brutally true, revealing and funny. His arrest became an international sensation and this is significant. He is able to convey a message that is straightforward, easy to understand, and cuts across race, religion, ethnicity and countries. The impact he creates, on the Malaysian public and the foreigners who comprehend Malaysian politics, is powerful.
The government is afraid. In trying to silence the government critics, Malaysia proves, to the world, that it is a police state. You, the rakyat have the power to oppose that. Solidarity and a firm resolve, are our best chance of changing Malaysia for the better.
Mariam Mokhtar is “a Malaysian who dares to speak the truth”.
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