September 18, 2011
Prime Minister Najib’s Malaysia Day Address: Another View–Cynical or Realistic(?)
Prime Minister Najib Razak appeared to be nursing a stiff neck, and certainly looked terribly nervous and uncomfortable as he started his speech. Having no doubt been advised by his handlers to establish eye contact with the audience, he nevertheless managed to look furtive doing it. His body language spoke far more than any words that he spoke. Mr Najib is a worried man, fearful of his future.
He cannot improve on the BN’s performance of 2008, he knows this, and in fact the BN will fare worse. Which means Mr Najib will be deposed after the election by his own party. His short and hitherto unimpressive career will be over. So he has decided on a radical new strategy, to take on the mantle of a reformer; overnight!
He first started off with a dull history lesson, focusing on the fact that Malaysians (Malayans rather) had been able to vote in an election for the first time in 1952, and as a free country in 1959. Since that makes Malaysia about the same as every other country that ever became independent of a colonial power (including the US), we were left wishing that he would get to the point. And we were quite sure there was a point, as Mr.Najib could not afford another pointless speech.
“The three Declarations of Emergency are hereby cancelled 40 years later”. Big deal. Better than Gaddafi, but that’s about it. Broad false smile from Hishamuddin Hussein.
“The ISA will be annulled in its entirety”. More false happy signals from Hishamuddin. Rais Yatim doing a terribly good impression of a prune. The IGP nodding his head like one of those vile nodding-head dolls that people are always bringing back from their travels. Unenthusiastic clapping from the very perpetrators of these vile laws, the BN’s flabby, flaccid in-bred ruling class.
And a bonus, “no more Printing Presses Act”, so the newspapers will be ‘free’. They’ll still need a license to operate though, so maybe not so ‘free’. The Executive will still control them. You can look forward to the usual garbage from the mainstream newspapers. Opposition newspapers will of course not be given a licence.
So, what, in the end, was Mr Najib’s point?
Sure, BN can change, no doubt about it!
Well, Mr Najib would like you to believe that, contrary to current conventional wisdom, the BN can change without being thrown out first. He would like the fence-sitters to vote for him. He would like to disentangle himself as an individual from the BN’s unpopularity. He would like some of the urban vote, which he has entirely lost, back.
But he offers nothing! The announcements of September 15 are superficial garbage. The ISA was a law that was politically impossible to use any more, so what difference that it is repealed, other than symbolism. Two new laws will be created, Mr Najib announced. Just like that. He needed to discuss it with no stakeholders? The judiciary remains under the thumb of the executive. The police remain unreformed, the IPCMC blocked. The MACC a farce in itself. The AG will have his powers unclipped and we may look forward to more selective prosecutions.
Already his underlings like Hishamuddin Hussein and Nazri Aziz are undermining even these miserable changes. The current batch of ISA detainees have yet to be released two days after Mr Najib made his speech. Hishamuddin Hussein now claims that they are all being held for ‘terrorism’. It is indeed a very sudden surge of it!
Najib’s version of freedom
There are some who have welcomed Mr.Najib’s speech, but they may very well be suffering, as tweeted by Ms Latheefa Koya, from a severe case of Stockholm syndrome. You do not thank your captor for letting you go because it has now become expedient for him to do so!
To add insult to injury, Mr Najib claims to have ‘freed’ the newspapers. He will however have the right to pull their license whenever he chooses! This is Mr Najib’s idea of freedom. Very different from Mandela’s and a Sword of Damocles over your head.
The only clear fact that comes out of his announcements is that Mr.Najib believes that Malaysians can be easily fooled. His speech on the 15th was an exercise in talking down to the electorate. Few will be fool enough to swallow this lukewarm swill he would serve us.
Mr Najib may keep his half-measures and expedient speeches. Or he may spout them from the opposition benches after the next General Election. What cannot be countenanced is another five years of incompetence, economic mismanagement and arrogant rule by the BN.
- Malaysia Chronicle