Two sets of brothers made headlines recently, for completely different reasons, but both exhibited the art of saving face. One unashamedly defended his brother’s actions in a potentially violent public demonstration. The other was more circumspect in criticising the role played by his brother in an important public issue.
First. We will never find out if inspector-general of police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar was aware of the role played by his brother, Abdullah, during the church cross demonstration in Taman Medan. Was Abdullah the leader of the protesters, or was he the mediatorbetween the Malay demonstrators and the church representatives?
Abdullah, whose business is the supply of firearms and security services, was said to have known about the Malay protest and claimed that as a responsible leader of the Taman Lindungan Jaya Umno Baru branch, he soothed tensions, as he feared the protest would spiral out of control.
The IGP has claimed that, as a “professional”, he would not allow brotherly sentiments to influence him and vowed not to interfere in the investigation.
To show his ‘professionalism’, Khalid started-off by claiming that the removal of the cross from the church in Taman Medan, did not breach the Sedition Act because the protest did not touch on religion or the Christian faith.
This is not the first time that the IGP has “misinterpreted” the law. In child conversion cases, he refuses to do his job as a policeman, and will not arrest fathers who kidnap their children, claiming that he is caught in the cross-fire between syariah and civil laws.
If the IGP wants proof of double standards, he could investigate the manner in which human rights lawyers, social activists and opposition politicians have been arrested, by gangs of balaclava-clad policemen, armed with assault rifles, in the dead of night. The people who are arrested are handcuffed, dressed in purple uniforms, detained for several days, and some of them are allegedly assaulted.
One wonders if Khalid’s brother, who was called in for a police interview, was invited for a quick chat over a cup of tea, then chauffeured home, in an unmarked police car.
The IGP’s open admission about his brother, contrasts with that of Nazir Abdul Razak, the brother of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the controversial development company, which has accrued a debt of RM42 billion ringgits, is under the purview of the Finance Ministry, of which Najib is the minister.
‘Suspecting the worst’
Nazir had expressed disappointment that no representative of 1MDB had attended a major investment forum, despite being invited. He said that if the truth was kept from the rakyat, they would suspect the worst. He also agreed with the Bank Negara governor, Zeti Akhtar Aziz, that 1MDB did not pose a “systemic risk”.
Nazir (right) allegedly denied that he was in disagreement with his brother, and said that despite making various comments on 1MDB, none of his remarks could be seen as controversial or have caused negative investor sentiment. He said, “I think my 15-year-old son can make that observation (on 1MDB) as well.” (sic)
Nazir, the chairperson of CIMB, is right to say that we should not dismiss his criticism of the failure of representatives from 1MDB to explain the position, as sibling rivalry. It is far more serious. The financial health of 1MDB affects the economy of Malaysia and all Malaysians.
The rakyat is worried, and for Nazir to claim that this is not a systemic risk is irresponsible. Malaysians are concerned because the taxpayers’ money is involved, and they want to know the truth about 1MBD.
Nazir may not have made any controversial statements about 1MBD, but other people who have reported on 1MDB, like the editors ofThe Malaysian Insider, have been arrested, simply for doing their jobs.
Put another way; if we were to default on a bank loan of a few thousand ringgits, the bank would not hesitate to send the bailiffs to recover the loan. Najib’s 1MDB is risking RM42 billion ringgits of taxpayers’ money, and no action has been taken. He has put the country’s finances in peril.
Nazir should have explained to Najib the seriousness of the 1MDB scandal and forced representatives of the company to attend the forum, instead of merely questioning 1MDB’s absence.
When Nazir uploaded the photo of Michael Jackson with the caption, “You are not alone”, onto his Instagram account, most people thought it was directed at Mahathir Mohamad, who had earlier said he was alone, in his mission to seek answers about 1MBD, from Najib.
Despite the minor tensions in a normal, brotherly relationship, the axiom, “blood is thicker than water” holds true, and Nazir may have been telling his brother, “Yo, bro, I will always be there for you, despite your faults”.
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO).