KARPAL SINGH, who died in a car accident in the early hours of April 17th at the age of 74, was a rarity in the venomous world of Malaysian politics: a man respected by many of his opponents as well as those on his own side.
That side, for all of a long career in politics, was the opposition to Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, which has held power ever since independence in 1957. Yet on Facebook and on Twitter condolences to his family have poured in from across the political spectrum, including from the prime minister, Najib Razak, who paid tribute to a “formidable opponent”. Known as “the Tiger of Jelutong” after the constituency on the island of Penang he long represented, Mr Karpal was indeed formidable.
Anwar Ibrahim, leader of an opposition coalition, of which Mr Karpal’s Democratic Action Party (DAP) forms part, mourned the passing of “my brother-in-arms for freedom and democracy, an inspiring symbol for the struggle against oppression and injustice and a man of unimpeachable moral integrity.”
For most of Mr Karpal’s political career, opposition politics has been a mug’s game, offering virtually no chance of winning power, and endless trouble, from petty harassment to, in Mr Karpal’s case, imprisonment.
He was one of 106 critics of the BN government who were locked up in 1987 under Malaysia’s Internal Security Act by the government of Mahathir Mohamad, a long-serving prime minister. The act itself was repealed in 2012. Mr Karpal also campaigned long and hard against the death penalty in Malaysia, which still remains on the books.
But Mr Karpal was no mug. He was recognised as a fine lawyer, even if he often found himself on the losing side. In one of his recent defeats, in March, an acquittal that had been won for his client, Mr Anwar, was overturned; a charge of sodomy was reinstated against him. Mr Anwar was sentenced to five years in jail, though he is appealing against the verdict.
A few days later Mr Karpal himself was found guilty—of sedition. Mr Karpal escaped with a fine rather than a jail term, but the conviction caused outrage. His crime was a remark he made during a press conference in 2009, when he merely expressed his legal opinion on a political dispute in Perak, one of the states in the Malaysian federation.
The conviction meant Mr Karpal had to give up his chairmanship of the DAP, the ethnic-Chinese-dominated party that led the charge for the opposition in last year’s election. Their coalition actually won the popular vote. Gerrymandered constituencies mean it has something far short of a parliamentary majority, but death has taken Mr Karpal at a time when prospects for the Malaysian opposition look better than ever before in his long career.
It will be tested, however, by the loss of Mr Karpal, and perhaps of Mr Anwar, too, if he is again removed from the political fray and put behind bars.
Mr Karpal’s popularity was due to more than his tigerish courage and tenacity. His dignity, modesty, humour and courtesy, all played their parts. A BBC radio interview in 2011 demonstrated also the remarkable lack of rancour with which he accepted his life’s many travails—including an earlier road accident, in 2005, that left him in a wheelchair.
It was also a reminder that, though his death has been greeted with respect and regret (some nasty political jibes notwithstanding), that is not how Malaysia’s opposition politicians are treated when alive. Mr Karpal had described taunts about his disability and even death threats, in the form of bullets sent in the post. All this he dismissed as “professional hazards”. Many people, he said, wanted him dead. “I tell them ‘You have to join the queue’.”
Five weeks into the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, more than $30 million has been spent scouring great swatches of the southern Indian Ocean. Yet searchers have still not found a single piece of physical evidence such as wreckage or human remains. Last week, Australian authorities said they were confident that a series of acoustic pings detected 1,000 miles northwest of Perth had come from the aircraft’s black boxes, and that wreckage would soon be found. But repeated searches by a robotic submarine have so far failed to find the source of the pings, which experts say could have come from marine animals or even from the searching ships themselves. Prime Minister Tony Abbott admitted that if wreckage wasn’t located within a week or two “we stop, we regroup, we reconsider.”
There remains only one publically available piece of evidence linking the plane to the southern Indian Ocean: a report issued by the Malaysian government on March 25 that described a new analysis carried out by the U.K.-based satellite operator Inmarsat. The report said that Inmarsat had developed an “innovative technique” to establish that the plane had most likely taken a southerly heading after vanishing. Yet independent experts who have analyzed the report say that it is riddled with inconsistencies and that the data it presents to justify its conclusion appears to have been fudged.
Some background: For the first few days after MH370 disappeared, no one had any idea what might have happened to the plane after it left Malaysian radar coverage around 2:30 a.m., local time, on March 8, 2014. Then, a week later, Inmarsat reported that its engineers had noticed that in the hours after the plane’s disappearance, the plane had continued to exchange data-less electronic handshakes, or “pings,” with a geostationary satellite over the Indian Ocean. In all, a total of eight pings were exchanged.
Each ping conveyed only a tiny amount of data: the time it was received, the distance the airplane was from the satellite at that instant, and the relative velocity between the airplane and the satellite. Taken together, these tiny pieces of information made it possible to narrow down the range of possible routes that the plane might have taken. If the plane was presumed to have traveled to the south at a steady 450 knots, for instance, then Inmarsat could trace a curving route that wound up deep in the Indian Ocean southwest of Perth, Australia. Accordingly, ships and planes began to scour that part of the ocean, and when satellite imagery revealed a scattering of debris in the area, the Australian prime minister declared in front of parliament that it represented “new and credible information” about the fate of the airplane.
The problem with this kind of analysis is that, taken by themselves, the ping data are ambiguous. Given a presumed starting point, any reconstructed route could have headed off in either direction. A plane following the speed and heading to arrive at the southern search area could have also headed to the north and wound up in Kazakhstan. Why, then, were investigators scouring the south and not the north?
The March 25 report stated that Inmarsat had used a new kind of mathematical analysis to rule out a northern route. Without being very precise in its description, it implied that the analysis might have depended on a small but telling wobble of the Inmarsat satellite’s orbit. Accompanying the written report was an appendix, called Annex I, that consisted of three diagrams, the second of which was titled “MH370 measured data against predicted tracks” and appeared to sum up the case against the northern route in one compelling image. One line on the graph showed the predicted Doppler shift for a plane traveling along a northern route; another line showed the predicted Doppler shift for a plane flying along a southern route. A third line, showing the actual data received by Inmarsat, matched the southern route almost perfectly, and looked markedly different from the northern route. Case closed.
The report did not explicitly enumerate the three data points for each ping, but around the world, enthusiasts from a variety of disciplines threw themselves into reverse-engineering that original data out of the charts and diagrams in the report. With this information in hand, they believed, it would be possible to construct any number of possible routes and check the assertion that the plane must have flown to the south.
Unfortunately, it soon became clear that Inmarsat had presented its data in a way that made this goal impossible: “There simply isn’t enough information in the report to reconstruct the original data,” says Scott Morgan, the former commander of the US Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. “We don’t know what their assumptions are going into this.”
Another expert who tried to understand Inmarsat’s report was Mike Exner, CEO of the remote sensing company Radiometrics Inc. He mathematically processed the “Burst Frequency Offset” values on Page 2 of Annex 1 and was able to derive figures for relative velocity between the aircraft and the satellite. He found, however, that no matter how he tried, he could not get his values to match those implied by the possible routes shown on Page 3 of the annex. “They look like cartoons to me,” says Exner.
Even more significantly, I haven’t found anybody who has independently analyzed the Inmarsat report and has been able to figure out what kind of northern route could yield the values shown on Page 2 of the annex. According to the March 25 report, Inmarsat teased out the small differences predicted to exist between the Doppler shift values between the northern and southern routes. This difference, presumably caused by the slight wobble in the satellite’s orbit that I mentioned above, should be tiny—according to Exner’s analysis, no more than a few percent of the total velocity value. And yet Page 2 of the annex shows a radically different set of values between the northern and southern routes. “Neither the northern or southern predicted routes make any sense,” says Exner.
Given the discrepancies and inaccuracies, it has proven impossible for independent observers to validate Inmarsat’s assertion that it can rule out a northern route for the airplane. “It’s really impossible to reproduce what the Inmarsat folks claim,” says Hans Kruse, a professor of telecommunications systems at Ohio University.
This is not to say that Inmarsat’s conclusions are necessarily incorrect. (In the past I have made the case that the northern route might be possible, but I’m not trying to beat that drum here.) Its engineers are widely regarded as top-drawer, paragons of meticulousness in an industry that is obsessive about attention to detail. But their work has been presented to the public by authorities whose inconsistency and lack of transparency have time and again undermined public confidence. It’s worrying that the report appears to have been composed in such a way as to make it impossible for anyone to independently assess its validity—especially given that its ostensible purpose was to explain to the world Inmarsat’s momentous conclusions. What frustrated, grieving family members need from the authorities is clarity and trustworthiness, not a smokescreen.
Inmarsat has not replied to my request for a clarification of their methods. This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that in recent days experts had “recalibrated data” in part by using “arcane new calculations reflecting changes in the operating temperatures of an Inmarsat satellite as well as the communications equipment aboard the Boeing when the two systems exchanged so-called digital handshakes.” But again, not enough information has been provided for the public to assess the validity of these methods.
It would be nice if Inmarsat would throw open its spreadsheets and help resolve the issue right now, but that could be too much to expect. Inmarsat may be bound by confidentiality agreements with its customers, not to mention U.S. laws that restrict the release of information about sensitive technologies. The Malaysian authorities, however, can release what they want to—and they seem to be shifting their stance toward openness. After long resisting pressure to release the air traffic control transcript, they eventually relented. Now acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein says that if and when the black boxes are found, their data will be released to the public.
With the search for surface debris winding down, the mystery of MH370 is looking more impenetrable by the moment. If the effort to find the plane using an underwater robot comes up empty, then there should be a long and sustained call for the Malaysian authorities to reveal their data and explain exactly how they came to their conclusions.
Because at that point, it will be all we’ve got.
Court of Appeal’s Fitnah 2 written judgement is flawed, defensive and insupportable
I refer to the written judgement dated 11 April of the Court of Appeal in the Fitnah 2 case, which criticises Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s decision to give a statement from the dock, accepts Saiful’s evidence and claims that Anwar’s defence was not credible. The judgement is insupportable in law and fact, and fundamentally flawed from beginning to end.
Unprecedentedly, the judges go out of the ambit of the case before them by saying that ‘ it would be stretching it too far to say that this appeal has been disposed of in haste’. This appears to be a defensive response to widespread public criticism, including a censure motion brought in the Dewan Rakyat against the three judges. It is highly inappropriate for the judges to respond to criticism of their conduct in such a manner. The judgement in a criminal case must deal with the facts and law of the case, and not extraneous matters. Otherwise it raises questions about the Judges’ impartiality and objectivity; justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done.
The judges drew legally untenable conclusions based upon Anwar’s decision to give an unsworn statement from the dock. They ‘ wonder why ‘ Anwar chose to make an unsworn statement, and suggest sinister motives. In fact, under the criminal law it is the hallowed right of the accused person to make an unsworn statement from the dock. Mandela did so when he was on trial for his life in the 1963 Rivonia case. Anwar did so in the Fitnah 2 trial, and thus put on trial the unjust legal and political system which had brought him to the dock. The Court of Appeal judgement has departed from all legal precedents by criticising Anwar for giving a statement from the dock.
The judgement says there is ‘nothing impropable about Saiful’s evidence’. How do these three judges reach such a conclusion when it is undisputed that Saiful met with Anwar’s political enemy, Prime Minister Najib, just 2 days before the alleged incident? Why did he also meet with top police officer SAC Rodwan, who was involved in the first sodomy case? How is that Saiful claims to have been sodomized several times whereas the GH medical report finds no such physical evidence? Why is it Saiful did not get away after the alleged incident although he had plenty of opportunity to do so?
Crucially, although the investigating officer Jude Pereira had cut open the sample bag P27, the judges say this does not ‘ amount to tampering of the exhibits’. This conclusion is against all legal principles governing the chain of evidence, and against all common sense.
In short, this is not a credible judgement; it disregards crucial facts and goes against accepted principles of law. This judgement purports to convict Anwar, but in fact it strengthens the general public conviction that Anwar Ibrahim is a victim of political persecution and a grave miscarriage of justice.
MP PADANG SERAI
18 April 2014
US President set to arrive April 27 as KL faces increasing international criticism
US President Barack Obama is expected to visit Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia this month as part of his push to increase US diplomatic, economic and security engagement with countries in the Asia-Pacific region. But despite the relative size and strategic importance of the other countries, it is his April 27 trip to Malaysia that arguably gives the president his biggest problems.
Given the events of the past few months, Obama will visit a country that has earned some of the worst press in Asia, not only for its fumbling response to the loss of its jetliner, MH370, with 239 people aboard, but to revelations of growing racial and religious intolerance, blatant attempts to silence the opposition through spurious legal action and bizarre charges by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s own newspaper that the Central Intelligence Agency kidnapped the plane to foment trouble with China, 152 of whose citizens were aboard the missing craft. The same newspaper, Utusan Malaysia, also repeated as a real possibility speculation by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad that the CIA brought down the World Trade Towers in 2001as a plot to blame Muslims for the destruction.
In recent weeks, an appeals court has reversed a lower court decision against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, declaring him guilty of what were clearly trumped up charges of sodomy. The decision, apparently rushed forward, was designed to deny Anwar an almost certain win in a Kuala Lumpur suburban by-election that would have paved his way to becoming chief minister of the country’s most populous and prosperous state and would have given him a potent rhetorical platform to challenge the government. In an equally dubious decision, Karpal Singh, chairman of the Democratic Party, the biggest in the troika of opposition parties, was declared guilty of sedition for saying a decision by the Sultan of Perak could be questioned in court.
The international press that showed up in Kuala Lumpur after the disappearance of the airliner began asking questions that exposed an authoritarian regime unaccustomed to facing independent scrutiny – questions that a kept mainstream media, all of which are owned by the political parties in power, have ignored for decades. While a vibrant opposition press exists on the Internet, the government simply ignores it or tries to neutralize its reports. Those questions include crony capitalism, gerrymandering and political repression. CNN, the major US and British newspaper s and other media assailed the government as authoritarian, corrupt and befuddled.
The feeling in Washington, however, is that the cost of cancellation to the strategic relationship between the two countries would be too high. Obama reportedly is being urged to visit a Christian church while in the country to show US commitment to human and religious rights. Advocates say the President should make at least some gesture of recognition of the fact that a 50.87 percent majority of Malaysians voted against the ruling coalition in 2013 general elections at 47.38 percent but still hold only 89 of the 222 seats in parliament because of gerrymandering. It’s unsure if he will do so. There is speculation that he may just opt for a “meet and greet” and get out of town as quickly as possible to avoid international criticism for propping up a regime that is starting to assume Zimbabwean characteristics of repression and kleptocracy.
“I don’t have any problem with Obama visiting Malaysia, provided he reaches out to Malaysians on both sides of the aisle and all sectors of society, including the Christian community, whose rights are being trampled on by their government,” said John Malott, a former career foreign service officer who served as ambassador to Malaysia from 1996 to 1998 and who has emerged as Malaysian government’s severest western critic. “But this has to be a visit that is based on the reality of what kind of country Malaysia really is today – and not to believe the talking points that Malaysia is still a tolerant multi-racial, multi-religious, harmonious, moderate Islamic nation, an economic success story, and a role model for others. It no longer is.”
Najib visited the White House in 2011 and was given a wholehearted endorsement by the President, who said Najib has “showed great leadership, I think, not only in continuing to show great leadership not only in Malaysia’s economy but on showing leadership on a wide range of multilateral issues.”
The president is said to like Najib personally despite the fact that a wide range of issues have never been cleared up, going back to allegations of Najib’s personal involvement in the US$1 billion purchase of French submarines that according to French prosecutors was said to have netted US$114 million in bribes and kickbacks to the United Malays National Organization. The case is still making its way through French courts.
There is also the matter of the still controversial 2006 murder by two of Najib’s bodyguards of Mongolian translator and party girl Altantuya Shaariibuu, who according to a now-dead private detective had been Najib’s girlfriend before she was said to have been passed on to his best friend, Abdul Razak Baginda, a key figure in the purchase of the submarines. The bodyguards were acquitted on appeal despite overwhelming evidence of their guilt, raising questions about Malaysia’s legal system as well.
There have been some rude shocks. Six months ago, in the run-up to his previous failed visit to the region, the US president hailed Malaysia as an “an example of a dynamic economy” and praised its multi-ethnic, moderate Muslim-dominated society only to see just three days later a court decision ordering Christians not to use the word “Allah” when referring to God, making it the only Islamic country in the world to do so.
After that, the government ordered the confiscation of Malay-language Bibles containing the word – but only in Peninsular Malaysia. Christians using Malay-language Bibles in East Malaysia were allowed to keep them. That is because most of the Christians are tribes indigenous to Borneo that are aligned with the ruling party. In Peninsular Malaysia, they form the bulk of the opposition.
“So the issue is — how can you talk about establishing a ‘strategic partnership’ with such a government?” Malott asked. “Maybe that is what will have to be downplayed or even canned for this visit. To me, the idea of a declaring a strategic partnership with a government whose faults have now been revealed to the world, day after day, seems politically unwise.”
Malott also questioned what strategic benefits the US can obtain from Malaysia.
“What strategic value does Malaysia have that it warrants America to hold its nose and ignore the trampling of democracy and political freedom, not to mention the corruption and cronyism that hurt American business interests there?” he asked. “And with Mahathir, the great anti-American, increasingly calling the political shots and Najib’s popularity the lowest of any Prime Minister in polling history, will a ‘strategic partnership’ with the US survive Najib’s departure?”
Veteran Malaysian opposition lawmaker Karpal Singh, an eminent lawyer who had been detained without trial under security laws and battled numerous sedition charges, has died in a road accident. He was 73.
District police chief Ng Kong Soon said Mr. Singh was travelling with four others when his car collided with a truck early Thursday on a highway.
Mr. Ng was quoted by national Bernama news agency as saying Mr. Singh and his personal assistant were killed immediately and his Indonesian maid was badly injured, but his son, Ram Singh, and the driver escaped unhurt.
Gobind Singh Deo, Mr. Karpal Singh’s son and also a political leader, posted a message on Facebook and Twitter announcing his father’s death.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Malaysia has lost an “indefatigable fighter for justice.”
Karpal Singh – the prominent lawyer, lawmaker and DAP leader – died early this morning in a road accident while on the way to Penang, doing what he does best: going to court for a client. He was 73.
His reputation as a lawyer and politician had earned him the nickname the “Tiger of Jelutong” from the time he started legal practice in 1970 – which was also the year he joined the Democratic Action Party (DAP).
When he died early today, Karpal had just let go of the DAP chairmanship as he battled a sedition conviction that risked his four decades of legal and political career.
“Eliminating me from the political terrain will not be the end of Karpal Singh. It will in fact lead to the rise of many Karpal Singhs!” said Karpal, who was Amnesty International’s “prisoner of conscience” for his detention without trial.
His legal and political colleagues remember him as a fearless and smart lawyer and politician, but to the countless ordinary people in his Penang constituency and legal office in Jalan Pudu Lama, Kuala Lumpur – he was a friend.
This was the other side of Karpal Singh apart from his legendary roles as a DAP politician and remarkable lawyer – he was a gentle-mannered man who was always ready to help the ordinary folk he came across in his daily life.
They knew Karpal as a humble man with a ready smile, who was always ready to stop and listen, no matter how small you were. No question was too trivial or repetitive for him to answer, no hello was too unimportant to stop for.
His tragic death in a road accident today meant that he “died in his saddle”, a term he had used upon turning 70 when he said: “I’ve always said that a lawyer should die in a saddle. I think it equally applies to being a politician.”
An earlier road accident in 2005 put him in a wheelchair while this morning’s road accident occurred near Gua Tempurung when the veteran lawyer was on his way up north to Penang in his white Alphard for a court case.
Anyone who knew Karpal would easily attest to how he was probably the busiest 73-year-old around, often shuttling between parliament and court during the week, and on weekends, travelling up north, mostly to visit his constituency or for a court case.
Nothing stopped Karpal, who at 73 was still shuttling between parliament and court or travelling north to visit his constituency. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 17, 2014.Nothing would stop him in court or politics. Not even the latest sedition conviction where he was alleged to have said that the removal of Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as menteri besar of Perak by Perak ruler, Sultan Azlan Shah, could be questioned in a court of law.
Karpal’s defence was that he had offered a legal opinion and not a threat to the ruler, who was once the Lord President of the Supreme Court. Charged for the offence in 2009, Karpal was acquitted by the High Court without his defence called in the first round.
However, the prosecution appealed against the decision and succeeded at the Court of Appeal, and even pressed for a deterrent sentence against the wheelchair-bound politician.
He was handed down a RM4,000 fine, which would have disqualified him as an MP if he did not succeed in an appeal which has not been heard.
Karpal joined DAP in 1970 and was first elected as a Kedah state assemblyman in 1974 before becoming MP for Jelutong in 1978, a seat he held until he lost in 1999.
He returned to parliament in the 2004 general election as the Bukit Gelugor MP, and although the motor accident in 2005 confined Karpal to a wheelchair, it did nothing to curb his spirit or vigour.
Karpal’s legal career started when he was admitted to the Penang Bar in 1969 after reading law at the National University of Singapore.
He was one of Malaysia’s most prominent lawyers, and had taken up numerous high-profile cases, including drug trafficking charges against foreign nationals such as Australian Kevin Barlow, and the sodomy accusations against former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
He was a staunch opponent of the death penalty, especially for drug trafficking offences.
He was detained in the Ops Lalang government crackdown in October 1987 under the Internal Security Act which allows for detention without trial, along with DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and 104 others. He was released in 1989.
Karpal was also known to be opposed to turning Malaysia into an Islamic state, often citing the Federal Constitution that provides for a secular nation.
“I’m doing it for the country. At the end that’s what it is for,” he had told The Malaysian Insider in an interview before his 70th birthday.
He had also said then that “one can’t always win,but should not stop trying either”.
Clearly, Karpal never stopped. He was and will always be a Malaysian hero.
He will be missed, never forgotten. He will always be loved, treasured and respected for decades to come.
But that cannot be said about the government which until the last moment was trying to put him behind bars for speaking the truth and speaking lucidly about something that mattered dearly to him: the law.
He leaves behind wife Gurmit Kaur, daughter Sangeet, sons Jagdeep, Gobind, Ramkarpal and Mankarpal, and a host of grandchildren. And Malaysians.
“He gave his honours to the world again,
His blessed part to heaven, and…henceforth, will now sleep in peace.”
At almost 3 this morning I awoke to the shocking news of the death of one of the nation’s most illustrious heroes – YB Karpal Singh. It came like a lightning bolt to me because just last evening, I had had a lengthy chat with him.
After getting hold of myself, I then twittered a short condolence expressing deep sorrow and devastation over the loss of “our indefatigable fighter for justice”. Once again, Azizah and family offer our deepest condolences to Gurmit Kaur, Gobind, Ram and the rest of the family. May you all remain strong in this great hour of tribulation.
Indeed, words cannot express enough my profound sadness of the passing away of my brother-in-arms for freedom and democracy, an inspiring symbol for the struggle against oppression and injustice and a man of unimpeachable moral integrity.
The nation has lost one of her most dedicated servants. The people have lost a selfless , courageous and noble defender of their fundamental liberties. The legal fraternity has lost one of it’s sharpest minds and I have lost a true friend, kind in words, noble in deed.
“Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.”
And so it was with our hero Karpal Singh for there is none more valiant in life than this great mortal whose body may have perished but his spirit shall live on with us.
17th April, 2014
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has hit back at Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for “manipulating” a comment made to Chinese daily Southern Weekly.
At a Finance Ministry meeting yesterday, Najib had attacked Anwar for reportedly saying that he could have solved the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 mystery “in one second if he was prime minister”.
PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim reiterated that his fight to win the presidency is not with his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, but with the Registrar of Societies (ROS).
Pakatan Rakyat has been told to be “mindful” that Umno will use PAS’ proposal to implement hudud in Kelantan, in order to get political mileage.
In issuing the reminder, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim pointed to Umno’s inconsistency on the matter.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has criticised Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for remaining silent on the MH370 crisis and refusing to take questions from the media.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has criticised Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for remaining silent on the MH370 crisis and refusing to take questions from the media.
Anwar also questioned the government’s refusal to release the cargo manifest from MH370.
As you may or may not recall, in my column last week I made the blindingly obvious point that Malaysia’s perennially crooked, incompetent and thus altogether pathetic apology for a government should get real or get out.
But I also realistically conceded that the Barisan Nasional gangster-regime will never so much as consider getting real, let alone getting out, as long as there is anything left for it and its cronies to steal.
A dismal truth that has been even more pressingly and depressingly evident in the week since, due to fresh revelations of BN’s stealing on regardless, as in robbing the rakyat blind as ever, and no sign whatever that it has any intention of stealing away as in getting lost.
The clearest signal this week of BN’s steely and stealy determination to stay despite the incalculable amount it has cost Malaysia and Malaysians economically, electorally, socially, educationally and every other way domestically, and the shame it has brought on the nation internationally, was the refusal of Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya to contemplate resigning.
Far from taking any responsibility for the mysterious disappearance of MAS Flight MH370, however, let alone for the airline’s shocking financial losses and its record of corrupt dealings with crony suppliers under his stewardship, he brazenly ignored the question of his resignation and declared that “we have a lot of work to do. The airline needs to get itself together” so it can once again “soar”.
Whether MAS can ever soar above its sore and sorry mismanagement by BN and the would-be high fliers it has variously sold it to or hired to run it after its corrupt “repurchase” at an inflated price and at public expense remains a moot question at this moment.
But meanwhile, note the typically BN-style weasel words in this statement, implying that it’s “the airline”, not himself or the regime that installed him in his job as head or at least figurehead of the airline, that “needs to get itself together”, and thus neither his responsibility personally or that of the regime collectively.
But at least Yahya was relatively subtle in dodging blame for the airline’s woes on his own or BN’s part, compared with Utusan Malaysia, the rabid, racist alleged ‘newspaper’ that serves as the most strident voice of Umno, the majority party in the BN coalition.
Recycled conspiracy theory
Some Umno poison-penman whose name I can’t be bothered looking up last week recycled the tired old Dr Mahathir Mohamad conspiracy theory that the CIA carried-out the 9/ll attacks on the World Trade Centre to provide a pretext for the US to go to war against Muslim countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, and put forward the proposition that the CIA has likewise engineered the disappearance of MH370 for the purpose of sabotaging the relationship between Malaysia and China.
As former US Ambassador to Malaysia John Mallot recalled in his responseto this latest crime against journalism byUtusan Malaysia, this rabid rag is not only owned by Umno, but the president of Umno and Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Abdul Razak, recently praised it to the skies, urged government-linked corporations to advertise in it, and even named a street after the thing.
So, in view of the image of caring and compassion that Najib and his regime have been desperately trying to convey despite their incompetent handling of the MH370 disappearance and their blood-sucking attempts to make capital of it by proposing the squandering and stealing of yet more public money on still more price-inflated, “commission”-generating defence purchases, Malott was more than justified in posing the question “so what say you, Najib?”
“You will soon be welcoming President Barack Obama to Malaysia. Are you going to let this absurd statement in ‘your’ newspaper stand? Or will you speak out – and denounce this nonsense – before Obama comes?”
Of course as John Malott and all the rest of us are well aware, Najib will not admit, let alone denounce, any fault whatever in the way he and his fellow 1RM chickens in the kangkung BN regime choose to run, or rather ruin, Malaysia.
In any event, Najib has already moved on from the MH370 affair, leaving countries with operative air and sea assets and competent defence personnel to conduct the search while he and the BN gang get back to business as usual.
And business has certainly been brisk this past week, with so-called ‘editor’ of Umno’s unsanitary Utusan Malaysia, Zulkiflee Bakar, attacking Malaysiakini for what he oddly calls “stone-age journalism”, presumably in a bid to aid Najib in his determination to ignore the latter’s revelations that the regime’s career of crime is raging unabated.
Items of BN ‘business’ this week have included the awarding of a RM1.6 billion contract for the building and maintenance of a hospital by “direct tender”, which is apparently the latest euphemism for crony-riddled rip-off, and of a similarly uncontested RM98.85 defence contract to the Destini Prima subsidiary of Destini Berhad, a company plausibly suspected of strong ties to Umno Youth chief and Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
And these daylight robberies come on top of the annual farce of a damning report by the Malaysian Auditor-General into shocking levels of waste, embezzlement, fraud and theft by the BN regime’s tame civil services, and the news that just one (of course unnamed) such culprit has been sacked since the previous year’s equally scathing report.
Far from appearing to notice, let alone take the slightest responsibility for this disgraceful state of affairs, however, Najib was out demonstrating that he is lying as usual in claiming to be “prime minister for all Malaysians” by urging employers in the nation’s private sector to hire more Malays.
Or perhaps, as some commentators have taken him to be suggesting, he means that private business should hire pretty well only Malays, like the police, military and most other departments of the BN regime do.
But whatever he had in mind, or at least was reading off the piece of paper someone had put in front of him on this occasion, Najib has repeatedly and definitively demonstrated over the past five years or so that he is a fitting prime minister not for all or some but of no Malaysians, and thus, along with the rest of his rotten, ridiculous regime, should get the hell out of office.
But he, or they, won’t go voluntarily, of course. So it’s up to the Malaysian people to progress from just criticising and complaining about these incompetent crooks to pressuring them in every way possible to go get lost.
Or, to employ the immortal words of Oliver Cromwell in his April 20, 1653 speech contemptuously dismissing Britain’s then so-called Rump Parliament in sending BN the message: “Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”