August 24, 2012
Netto comments on the Mansor Matter
by Terence Netto@http://www.malaysiakini.com
COMMENT: Next time there is a PKR meeting on strategising for the general election, attendees will have to be electronically vetted for recording devices. Otherwise what some participants might say about assorted others from the Pakatan Rakyat fraternity may wend its way into blogs and cause a lot of red faces as a consequence.
Then what the French philosopher Blaise Pascal held to be a maxim about interpersonal relations – “I lay it down as a fact that if all men knew what others say about them, there would not be four friends in the world” – would be confirmed as indisputable truth.
Later this morning at a press conference in Komtar, Deputy Chief Minister Dato’ Mansor Othman, the PKR State Chief, in the presence of DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng, would in all probability attempt to disavow disparaging remarks he reportedly made about the Penang Chief Minister at a party strategy meeting in March.
A recording of the remarks was uploaded in June on an obscure website (there is an anarchic plethora of them these days even dedicated netizens find it difficult to keep track) where the potentially embarrassing stuff lay, like a predator undetected among its prey, until disgruntled elements in PKR called attention to it and, as a result, have now succeeded in causing a furore that Mansor, with help from Lim, would have to struggle to tamp down.
How much is this highly avoidable incident due to politics – which, even at its least deplorable, is practice to deceive – and how much due to the cussedness of human nature – against which even the precaution of electronic safeguards would not be sufficient insulation – is the question?
Who did it?
To strip a convoluted story to its bare – and motive comprehending – essentials, one has to go back to the strategy meeting between Chinese leaders in Penang PKR and Dato’ Mansor that was held in March.
One of the attendees was a person already nursing a grievance against the DCM1 which led him to surreptitiously record what was said at the meeting on tape and keep it for strategic deployment later.
Part of the reason for holding the meeting was to allay the fears of the Chinese leaders in PKR that should Sim Tze Tzin (right), PKR state assemblyman from the Chinese-majority seat of Pantai Jerejak, be chosen to contest the parliamentary constituency of Bayan Baru, occupied by Zahrain Mohd Hashim who defected to the independent benches, Sim’s seat would not be given, as bruited about, to a PKR Malay to contest.
Chinese PKR leaders, sensitive to the DAP Chinese perception of them as unduly subservient to Malays, would be apt to view a PKR decision to allow a Malay to contest in Pantai Jerejak as fodder for the derogatory view of them held by their counterparts in the DAP.
At the meeting, Dato’ Mansor had to wrestle with these perceptions, which perhaps were what led to a desire to overcompensate by taking PKR frustrations out on Lim in front of a group of people who see the Penang Chief Minister as the epitome of what they dislike in the DAP – ethnic chauvinism.
When in June the list of PKR candidates for the election was finalised, one or two incumbent legislators found that their names were excluded. It is speculated that the excluded, apprised of the existence of the tape, sought to discharge their rancour at being dropped by persuading the recorder to upload the material on a little known blog (they did not go to the stridently anti-Lim Guan Eng blogs because they feared exposing their identities) where it lay unheralded until another of PKR’s malcontents decided to post a flaming red siren on it.
This led to the tape’s entry into the glare of media publicity where something that was potentially bothersome but latent is magnified into a full-blown controversy.
Mansor may not continue as DCM
The upshot is this morning’s press conference where Mansor would have to go through the motions of disavowal and contrition and Lim would play the role of magnanimous skipper of the Pakatan ship of state by accepting the proffer and hinting that all’s well that publicly comports to be well.
The ultimate result would be that after the general elections, Mansor cannot be Deputy Chief Minister because that would constitute an unwarranted affront to the DAP. This would almost certainly mean that he will be tapped for the parliamentary constituency of Nibong Tebal, occupied by Tan Tee Beng, formerly, like Zahrain, of PKR and now of the BN-supporting independent group in the Lower House.
Come to think of it, this would be a good finish to the whole contretemps because Dato’ Mansor, nice man though, is not a leader.
He is a good engine room man, strong on research and backing up the front pack, which was what he was when he was an academic in Universiti Sains Malaysia where he did good work for Anwar Ibrahim, which prompted the latter to make him his political secretary in the last years before Dr Mahathir Mohamad executed his decapitation in 1998 that was the trigger to all that is happening today.
Talk of unintended consequences, politics is rife with it – not all of which, mercifully, is bad.