Sunday, February 22, 2009
Three wise men
It is an accepted fiction that politicians are meant to rise to the top from the big, undifferentiated masses through dint of labour and intelligence like cream rising to the top of milk. In Malaysia, however, it seems that we are willing to forego even this pretence. Instead, our politicians are invariably culled from the dregs that collect at very bottom, as attested to by the calibre of the three candidates up for the UMNO Deputy President spot (in other words, the post of Deputy Prime Minister).

There is the odds-on favourite, International Trade and Industry Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, described in a recent interview as 'UMNO's thinking politician', who pooh-poohed HINDRAF's claims of marginalization with an irrelevant conclusion ('There are poor people among the Malays and Chinese as well and poverty is not just among the Indians'), disregarding ample evidence that the Indian community is, indeed, the most socially and economically deprived among the major ethnic groups. Muhyiddin has also iterated that while it is all right to discuss the social contract Malaysians should not question it, which reduces the whole endeavour to an exercise in democratic miming.

Then we have Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Mohammad Ali Rustam, who proposed that Karpal Singh be detained under the Internal Security Act or stripped of his citizenship for wanting to file suit against the Sultan of Perak over his role in the Perak constitutional crisis, despite the fact that Malaysia makes no legal provision for lèse majesté. (Oddly enough, Karpal Singh is now being investigated under the Sedition Act, an act which specifically states that it is not seditious to 'show that any Ruler has been misled or mistaken in any of his measures'. This pro-royalty katzenjammer is, of course, a far cry from the position UMNO held when Mahathir was busy dismantling royal immunity in 1992.)

And finally, there is Rural Development Minister, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, the disgraced former Menteri Besar of Selangor who was forced to resign in 1997 over allegations of 'currency irregularities'—which is to say he was nicked at a Brisbane International Airport carrying luggage stuffed with A$1.26 million in undeclared cash. Even if Taib managed to convince an Australian court that the misunderstanding arose due to his poor comprehension of English, there are still lingering questions as to
how he managed to purchase properties in Australia and New Zealand amounting to millions of ringgit and afford a RM12 million divorce settlement with Tengku Puteri Zaharia.

So there we have it: a disingenuous ignoramus, an opportunistic demagogue and a shady embezzler. Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke.


Update, 26th March 2009:
It was announced today that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has won the bid for the post of UMNO Deputy President which, in essence, means that the next Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia was elected by the casting of only 1,575 votes (or 0.006 percent of the country's population) by members of one party.

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