Malaysiakini : "Look man, I do what I can do to help y'all. But the game is out there, and it's either play or get played." - Omar (The Wire)
COMMENT | A reader wrote to me
and she proclaimed that every Umno politician should be investigated for
corruption. To be accurate, she said that every single Umno, MCA and
MIC politician in the Najib regime. Apparently, former premier Najib
Razak is the starting point. The source from which all of malfeasance
flows. What brought this on? The headline that Umno president Ahmad
Zahid Hamidi may be arrested, of course. I am not surprised.
People wait and see which Umno political
operative is summoned by the MACC but I think for most people, like this
Malaysiakini subscriber who regularly emails me, there is this
desire to see these band of brigands brought to justice. For years, the
corrupt system which sustained Umno political operatives were untouched
by the laws of the land, and what was worse is that they revelled in
this "untouchable" status.
When still serving Umno political operatives whine to me about the
witch hunts they claim to be subjected to, all I hear is the world’s
smallest violin playing in the background. The reality is that even as I
want to ensure that Pakatan Harapan keeps its election promises and
remind Malaysians that we cannot afford a BN Redux, I am simpatico with
people who want every Umno politician investigated by the state security
apparatus. I am talking about a specific class of people and not the
Harapan base, who are baying for blood.
The people who complain the most that things are not moving fast
enough or worry that there are some political backroom deals carried out
by Malay power structures, are still serving or retired civil servants.
Unlike the average citizen who has not been in service to this country,
these people have a profound hate for the system they had to endure,
sometimes for decades, and for the younger set, a few years that seemed
like decades. And for them, the system is Umno. I do not subscribe to this
definition of the "system" but nearly everyone I talk to seems to think
that the whole of Umno is corrupt and the only way this country can move
forward is for the crimes of Umno to be exposed for all to see.
I ask them why doesn’t it matter to them that even in the Abdullah
Ahmad Badawi regime there was corruption and governmental malfeasance
and previous administrations which often times were worst? The usual
answer is that we can only go so far. This meme that Dr Mahathir Mohamad wants to save Malaysia to repent
for his sins is strong in the Harapan base and for most people I speak
to. Mind you, while he has talked about saving Malaysia and the systemic
corruption that plagues this country, the old maverick has never truly
acknowledged that he is one of the main architects of this system.
And why should he? These days he has more than enough apologists, who
would justify anything he says or does on the grounds of not spooking
the Malays. However, this should not detract from the fact that I cannot
find any reasons why there should not be these "witch hunts"? Sure, I
could make a rational argument why there should not be these witch hunts
but something just stops me for doing this.
What Umno fears most
In another piece
I wrote this – “In the current climate, there will be more big-name
casualties when it comes to the malfeasance of the Najib regime, and
there will definitely be more defections – after a suitable period of
contriteness, of course – of Umno members to Bersatu and PKR.”
This got a response from an old friend who was with PKR and was
formerly with Umno. (His comments reproduced here in full with his
permission) - “Thaya, there will be more ‘big name’ causalities and they
know it! The strategy is to destroy Umno revenue streams – ill-gotten
gains – and to cripple the main Malay opposition block. This is not the
strategy of the non-Malays in Harapan but rather the Malays in Harapan.
This is what everyone in Umno fears.”
When this message was passed around among a few close associates,
many of them took umbrage, claiming that these types of strategies was
not something that should be done in this new Malaysia. There was much
discussion on the rule of law and about how the state should not go on
fishing expeditions against political opponents of the state. That we
needed an independent security apparatus and judiciary, and by condoning
such strategies - if true - we are merely doing what Umno did.
I, however, cannot bring myself to offer up the same indignation.
Why? Because I think of a kid like Teoh Beng Hock who is murdered while
political operatives from Umno went on with their plunder and have the
audacity to scream that they are the defenders of race and religion. I
think about the numerous deaths in custody and keep seeing the parents
of these murdered young people holding up their pictures asking for
There was always no evidence, as I wrote in another piece
– “Pardon my language but with the former Umno regime, there was always
that excuse of ‘insufficient evidence’. When it came to the 1MDB
scandal, insufficient evidence or worse, no crime. When it came to
deaths in custody, no evidence. When it came to police corruption, no
evidence. Sure, the MACC put on a good show arresting people but the
real terror, that evil of people working the system with the collusion
of the Umno state, there was always no evidence.”
The reality is that there was always evidence. Evidence that this
country was being raped and the perpetrators knew that they could get
away with it. They could pretend to be religious, cloaking themselves
from scrutiny by using race and religion. This probably explains why I
despise the snake-oil peddlers of any religion and their sycophants who
in their pious support of any political coalition, allow political
operatives to sometimes literally get away with murder.
Of course, there is that rational part of me that understands that
feelings such as these is not about justice but vengeance which is a
predictable response to the inequalities of the system, which goes far
Just recently I met this Malay couple who had lost their son,
murdered in custody, they claimed. This was not one of those cases that
were highlighted in the press maybe because their son was a criminal.
Just a petty thief who never hurt anyone. But he died in custody a
couple of years ago. They wanted to know why their son had to die for
his crimes but people who steal millions meant for the citizens of this
country go free or are never even investigated?
I have no idea how to answer questions like these. It doesn’t feel
right, telling people who have lost children or partners, that this is
not just about corrupt politicians who most probably are making deals to
ensure their political survival. That this is not just about Umno.
I do know this though. While I know that there will be more Umno big
fish that will face the music, there will be many more who will be let
off the hook.