Posted by: raishussin | November 29, 2015

Rebuilding Democracy in Malaysia

  1. In December 1998, for the first time in American history a sitting President, Bill Clinton, was impeached by Congress for the crimes of obstruction of justice and perjury relating to the sexual affair he had while in office with a 22 year old intern, Monica Lewinsky.
  2. The world knows very well the tricks he employed to duck and dive the allegations, including, most famously, his questioning of the definition of what “is” is, when he said that he “did not have sexual relations” with the woman in question – earning him the nickname: “The Wizard of Is”.
  3. In the end, the semen-stained blue dress saved by the curvy brunette with his DNA splashed all over it put an end to all of his shenanigans. But even “Slick Willie”, as he was popularly known at the time, never once went so far as to claim that the reporters and politicians accusing him were terrorists attacking the parliamentary democracy of the country or sabotaging the nation’s banking and financial institutions. The democratic institutions including all or any security agencies like FBI, CIA, NSA or any other administrative institutions was not used to defend the Slick Willie. Even his own Democratic Party distant from this investigations citing a personal issue involving then sitting President of the USA. Of course Hillary stood by his man as Bill is standing for her now in her attempt to be the first female US President.
  4. Fast forward to 2015 and Malaysia, the sitting Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak is not accused of having an illicit sexual affair – at least not by us – but he is under increasing scrutiny to explain the alleged payments of almost a billion US dollars into his personal accounts, as well as billions more in debt in the sovereign fund of his design, and even more allegedly questionable business dealings with cronies involving eye-watering sums diverted to off-shore vehicles held by other off-shore vehicles held by trustees and nominees in schematics so complex as to make even hardened drug-dealing cartels green-eyed with envy.
  5. With all these silver bullets flying his way, his simple line of defense is that anyone questioning any of this is attacking the democratically elected government of the Nation. This includes the common man, protesters, lawyers, accountants, opposition elected officials, his own UMNO party members, his UMNO Vice President and Deputy President, state bureaucrats, and even the former Deputy Prime Minister himself.
  6. When he has used the vast power at his disposal, it has been to stifle enquiry into the affair, rather than to pursue the players implicated in the scandal. He has re-shuffled bureaucrats, sacked and reassigned officials, all in the attempt to preserve his position. In the process, what he has done to the country’s constitutional democracy is the equivalent of bombing it back to the Stone Age.
  7. Rise of Dissent – The urgent need of the day is for the Rakyat to wake up and fight for no less than the constitutional and parliamentary democracy of the Nation. It is to preserve and repair the country’s institutional framework. The first call for which is to unambiguously reject the argument being offered by the Administration – the people of Malaysia surely know what the meaning of “is” is.
  8. Everyone knows that once the toothpaste is out of the tube, there’s no point trying to put it back in. Everyone, it seems, except the Prime Minister and his dwindling circle of supporters.
  9. Starting with the denial of any connection with the intermediary Jho Low, to the contradictory explanations for the alleged missing funds in 1MDB, the silence about the source and destination of allegedly, hundreds of millions of dollars into and from his personal accounts, the legal cases slapped against critical media and political opponents, the sacking of the former Attorney General, the transfer of MACC Directors to the PM’s Department and re-transfer, the elevation of the PAC members to the Cabinet to delay PAC investigation, the purge of dissenting UMNO members from the party ranks, the jailing of whistle-blowers, and the removal of his Deputy Prime Minister.
  10. Banana Republic – Regulatory authorities and enforcement agencies in multiple jurisdictions have begun actions which Malaysian authorities have been unwilling or unable to undertake themselves, and have initiated criminal probes into the culprits involved – freezing bank accounts, targeting key players, and verifying facts and details from leaked and official sources.
  11. Despite the wide net being tightened around them, the new Deputy Prime Minister returned from an official visit to the United States asserting that the FBI probe into 1MDB is merely political fodder and claiming that he had met top officials from the FBI, CIA and even Secretary of State John Kerry, with not one word mentioned by any of them about 1MDB. He may be right !
  12. Such claims call to mind a famous quote during the 1960s Profumo scandal when, hearing Lord Astor denied sleeping with her, Mandy Rice-Davis simply said “He would say that, wouldn’t he”.
  13. The immediate (and likely long term) repercussions of such action are a series of debilitating setbacks for the economy, the currency, the stock market, foreign investment, investor confidence, and other leading indicators which assign a country its place in world rankings – in which Malaysia has fast fallen into the category of a banana republic with comparisons drawn to the Philippines under Marcos and Zimbabwe under Mugabe.
  14. Call to Action – If the current Administration refuses to acknowledge this or act to stop it, then at least one by one other leading stakeholders are making their voices heard. Most importantly, in an unprecedented action, the Council of Rulers made it clear that they want the government to complete the investigation related to 1MDB as soon as possible and take “the appropriate stern action” against all those individuals found to be implicated.
  15. Central Bank Governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz has also bravely called for the Najib appointed Attorney General to investigate the evidence it has presented and prepare the appropriate charges, mirroring the Rulers’ call that the people have a right to know about the findings of the investigations into 1MDB.
  16. The ultimate victim of bad governance and loss of rule of law is the People themselves. They will have to labour to rebuild the institutional infrastructure and reclaim political stability, and repair the damage inflicted by the alleged actions of its leaders upon their Constitution. So, it is therefore the responsibility of all Malaysians to limit the impact of this fiasco which is growing day by day.
  17. It is equally important to exercise caution in the event of a free for all as everyone goes in for the kill. The new leadership will have to show strength and clarity, and explain that this is the time to repair the government, the institutions, the image, the economy, and the currency. The people will get their chance to express their vote in the general election. The need for justice will not go away.
  18. But first, YAB Dato’ Seri Najib Razak must reassess his position to stay or leave to safe the nation. Otherwise, just as President Clinton has come to be known in American politics as the “Comeback Kid”, the current Prime Minister will just as surely secure his reputation as the “Cannot Rid” politician of Malaysia.
  19. Will UMNO delegates rise to the clarion call to Save Malaysia and Rebuild its Democracy or will it be a choreographed applause to the gleeful Najib and his team of “obedient apple polishers”, who has made it public that Cash is King ?
  20. Will UMNO delegates for once elbow out the niceties and “patronaged obligation” for real reform by doing the right thing, that will continue to engender and relevantize UMNO in the next General Election and beyond ?
  21. Or are we asking for too much of UMNO delegates ?

 

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