Only voters can hold Umno accountable - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, March 05, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Those who corrupt the public mind are just as evil as those who steal from the public purse.” – Adlai Stevenson
COMMENT | Are Malaysians experiencing a 1MDB fatigue? I think Pakatan
Harapan supporters are experiencing it but the demographic that props
up Umno is feeling crappy about a whole range of issues and 1MDB is not
one of them. All these foreign reports about the ongoing case of perhaps
the biggest kleptocracy incident in the world mean nothing to the
people who sustain Umno.
It goes without saying that this kind of sucks. I mean, people think it is business as usual when the Australian police freezes
the account of a high-level state security officer on suspicion of
money laundering or proceeds of a crime. Bukit Aman Criminal
Investigation Department director Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd denies
wrongdoing, but claims that it would be too expensive for a court action
to retrieve the money.
If the monies were bribes of some kind, who paid him? What were they
getting in return? Beyond his allegedly guilty actions and the
non-consequences he faces here, what kind of consequences would the
country face by the hands of the people who (allegedly) put money in his
bank account? Crime? Terrorism? Who knows? Certainly not our state security
apparatus which considers the matter closed. Certainly not establishment
politicians who probably are worried about their own accounts all over
the world. I would add opposition politicians but the state seems more
interested in discovering their alleged criminal wrongdoings then their
overlords in Putrajaya. And while their minions are fair game,
essentially the protected Umno class is safe for the time being.
Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed wonders why Australia is trying to “embarrass”
Malaysia as if the act absolves the person from the criminality or
whatever else the embarrassed party is attempting to hide. These kinds
of statements want to make me vote against the Umno hegemon just for
Indonesia seizes Jho Low’s superyacht, Singapore seizes Jho Low’s
private jet and everyone thinks, that this is it. This is the smoking
gun. However foreign powers have their own crimes to hide, their own
banking institutions to protect, so small fish are roasted over the fire
of international opprobrium while the game goes on. Putrajaya knows
this. They understand deals can be made, which is why the old maverick
bemoans the fact that we are slaves to foreign powers.
Opposition political operatives call and tell me that this 1MDB issue
is not gaining traction with the demographic that sustains Umno. “They
do not understand the issues involved,” they decry. They do not
understand? On the best of days, I barely understand it and I was a
practicing lawyer. Going about chanting 1MDB and expecting people to
choke on their outrage and decide to vote for you is not going to work.
It boggles the mind that they are politicians when they complain that
certain issues distracts from the whole 1MDB scandal. Well yeah, but if
the 1MDB scandal is not gaining traction maybe you should discover
issues that does gain traction with the people whose votes you want. The
most important thing is realising that the 1MDB scandal is not the
single issue which will bring down the current regime.
1MDB is big city stuff
Do not get me wrong, corruption is a major issue but I think
sometimes, the strategists within Harapan conflate online chatter with
the real life. Corruption does not solely have to be about the biggest
case of kleptocracy the world is witness to. There are enough cases of
corruption that have a direct, profound impact on local polities that
would ensure that the current regime is benched. I absolutely love it when the opposition highlights cases that
demonstrate where the government has screwed the demographic that
sustains them and let us face facts, with the Felda case for instance,
there were immediate and still ongoing consequences for the Umno
establishment and the opposition has gained points with the people whose
votes matters most.
Anecdotally speaking, when young Malay voters write to me, they more
often than not speak to me about the Felda fiasco and the Tabung Haji
fiascos and how the opposition “did good” and rarely about the 1MDB case
which just confuses them.
Get this straight. Malaysia is not made up of people with pitchforks
chanting 1MDB and hoping for regime change, simply to dispose of a
kleptocratic regime. Is there dissatisfaction that the opposition can
capitalise on? Yes, there is but the opposition needs to recalibrate
their narratives to get people to vote for them. They cannot whine and
stomp their feet that people are unwilling to see that 1MDB is the
baddest thing to happen to this country. While it may be the biggest
case of its kind, the reality is that Malaysia was a failing state way
before the current bunch of kleptocrats took over.
Some folks have asked me, why I do not care about gerrymandering and
other kinds of electoral legerdemain. It is not that I do not care but
rather because I know if opposition politicians grab the peoples’
interest, waves of voters supportive of them will overcome any breaches
of electoral malfeasance. The more people you convince to vote for you,
the less effective the dirty electoral tricks of the establishment.
My advice is always stay local. 1MDB is big city stuff. That is
realpolitik. Umno knows this, which is why they play offence when it
comes to this issue. What Harapan should be doing is dredging up
state-level corruption. The goal is to get Umno to drain its war chest
by attempting to put out fires started by local oppositional operatives
screaming blue murder about state-level corruption. There is only so
much money and the Umno state cannot be everywhere.
If local, state-level, village-level, corruption where bandied about
in concert with the 1MDB fiasco, Umno would have no choice but to get on
the ground and deviate from the standard propaganda they shovel out by
the buckets loads. They would have to engage with the opposition which
are relatively “clean”.
For years, Umno has never addressed these issues because the
opposition were intent on not deviating from their own scripts which
plays well with urban and semi-urban audiences but is ineffective with
the demographic that sustains Umno.
As I said, “corruption” does not have to be solely about 1MDB. While
foreign powers will extract their pound of flesh for the sins of 1MDB,
the only people who will hold this regime accountable for corruption is
the voting public of Malaysia. The trick is not thinking that 1MDB is
the greatest con perpetrated on the people of Malaysia.