Netto on the Failed CSIS Seminar

February 25, 2010

Three Blind Mice went to Washington, one Gani Patail never turned up at CSIS Seminar

By Terence Netto


“Make them the object of ridicule. Nothing succeeds like laughter where the masses are concerned,” offered M J Akbar, author of a classic book titled  Nehru: The Making of India [ISBN 8174362053],   renowned Indian journalist and communications expert while on a recent visit to Kuala Lumpur  at the invitation of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Akbar was sharing his insights with Pakatan Rakyat-aligned media practitioners. His audience had little difficulty agreeing with their erudite interlocutor that the deepest cuts in political debate are wrought by barbs leavened with humour.

Three decades ago the Conservatives in Britain, led by Margaret Thatcher, campaigned to victory in a general election against Labour by employing the pithy slogan: “Labour – it doesn’t work.” Few political contests before and since have displayed the devastating wit and concision encapsulated by that bon mot.

Akbar’s listeners hardly needed prompting that the exertions of local powers-that-be in portraying themselves as worthy of merit can sometimes border on the absurd; they were just wondering where to locate the genius who can transmute the absurd into the evocatively fabulous.

Take the decision to send de facto law minister Nazri Aziz, former chief justice Abdul Hamid Mohamed, and Attorney General Gani Patail to Washington for a conference on the rule of law and transparent governance.

Excepting Abdul Hamid, under whose brief tenure as chief justice the courts in the country improved marginally, sending Nazri and, particularly, Gani to the Washington conference was like asking Jacob Zuma to be presenter at an international conference on AIDS prevention.

Incorrigible Zuma, who some years ago was charged with rape after having unprotected sex with a young woman who was HIV positive, has just now admitted to having unprotected sex with yet another young woman with whom he has fathered a child. (Zuma is the president of a country which has some of the highest rates of HIV infection.)

Sending anybody from the government to a Washington conference on good governance would be as futile as raising your tone when addressing the deaf. Listing the grounds for absurdity in the government’s presumption of its own merit would bore the seat off your pants.

Suffice loose cannon Nazri is the sort of fellow you only send into battle if you are minded to take on the charlatanry of Dr Mahathir Mohamed. He can swing roundhouse hooks the way a prizefighter desperate to put bread on his kids’ table can be expected to.

His vociferous branding some time ago of Dr Mahathir as “racist” and as the “father of all racists” was patently indiscriminate until Nasir Safar’s remarks about the immigration into Malaysia of Indian beggars and Chinese whores occasioned the response from the former premier that this was a “truth” you bandied about only in private. Seldom could the flailing Nazri been so spot-on.

After the fiasco of Sodomy I, you would think Gani *would have been chastened enough not to try something as feeble again. Think again. A lawyer who must surely overrate his persuasive powers, Gani’s best use would be as counsel if Sudan’s Omar Bashir were to submit to the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for genocide in Darfur.

This is not such a stretch. Bashir was once in Malaysia in the 1980s studying some course. He must have picked up some esoteric science. He would need that if he elects to go to the Hague, though if he were to commission Gani, he would have to forget the Malaysian’s performance in the case of who owned Pedra Banca, the island off Johor that Singapore out argued Malaysia at the International Court of Justice two years ago. But then Gani never knows when he is beat.

It’s like the lines from the ditty:

Three blind mice

Three blind mice

See how they run

See how they run.

And so on and so forth…

*Attorney-General Of Malaysia, Gani Patail, never turned up at CSIS Seminar as he was busy at The State Department and Department of Commerce. The former Chief Justice and now MACC Chairman who probably over slept turned up late and spoke for 10 minutesRead related story: A failed mission in Washington DC

13 thoughts on “Netto on the Failed CSIS Seminar

  1. The whole world can laugh at them , but not we , Malaysians. How can we laugh when our Government had just wasted another RM 20 million on this failed seminar !!!

    RM20 million is for APCO to spruce up Najib’s image…Ask your MP to raise this seminar cost in Parliament.–Din Merican

  2. The Malaysian Taxpayers have a right to know what happened at the recent CSIS seminar. I feel it is my duty to share with you my report on the proceedings. I hope, Mr. Merican, you will publish my piece on your blog, which I follow closely in DC. I apologise to Mr. Martin Jalleh for borrowing the word circus (I read his piece “Malaysian Circus Goes to Washington” on )

    Actually what happened in Washington is not only a waste of taxpayers’ money (about rm 4million was spent on this, that is the story I heard here, but I have no means of verifying this) but also a disgrace to all of us who are Malaysians here in this politically vibrant city.

    The performance was as Mr. Jalleh had predicted. It was dominated by spins and fell well short of the worst expectations. The Team of Minister Nazri, MACC Chairman Abdul Hamid and AG Gani Patail (The NAG Team) was not there in full force. Nazri took the podium and monopolized it for the most part – some 1 hour plus.

    Gani Patail, we were was told by our “pengcubit punggung” Ambassador JJ, was busy at the State Department in discussions concerning “re-exports” and “transshipments.” Crudely put, it was the issue of breach of sanctions and rules concerning export licenses. The AG was presumably being asked to account for jet engines that flew off on their own to Uruguay, and the lucrative business of shipping sensitive equipment to Iran and other hot ports via Dubai.

    The scheduled speaker, Chairman of MACC Hamid who turned up late suddenly appeared to have lost his voice, speaking on briefly and the audience was entertained instead by the lacklustre Dato Abu Kassim, the recently minted Commissioner of MACC. The NAG Team included a number of hangers-on who could not be identified. However, three MPS were introduced – a UMNO-Barisan Nasional Tajuddin, Wee Chee Keong (PKR MP for Wangsa Maju) and Penang MP for Bayan Baru, a certain Dato Seri Zahrain Hashim, who recently quit PKR.

    The opening act was by the nervous Master of Ceremonies for the event – Ernie Bower of the CSIS. Mr. Bower who was severely criticised for arranging this seminar was groveling, asking the audience to be gentle and polite with questions and to show respect to the VIP guests from Malaysia. He went on to make the point that the session was a closed one and that all statements were off the record. He broke the CSIS’s covenant for an open dialogue.

    Thus there were no media representatives. The rest of the audience were students including myself, odd US Government Departmental representatives, academics, a handful of the Malaysian diaspora, and retirees from the US Foreign service. This event did not attract the capital’s movers and shakers or opinion makers that the NAG team was dispatched to win over or seduce. It would appear that APCO, the lobbying firm, did not deliver after having collected their fat fees.

    Minister Nazri began by referring to Mr Martin Jalleh’s article on the Malaysian Circus, which was posted in Raja Petra’s web-paper and carried on your blog. He said that his trip had been planned nine months ago and was part of the new Prime Minister Najib’s wish to cultivate closer relationships with the US. Nazri elaborated that other Ministers and high officials would all be making visits to Washington in the future. He stressed that Najib was deeply committed to better relations with the Obama Administration. (Or was this an indication to all and sundry that they could count on Rosmah Mansor’s patronage of the Washington Area Shopping Malls which are still feeling the effects of the recession?). Nazri assured that Washington would be close to the heart of the Malaysian Government.

    The haughty Nazri was totally boring and spinning hard and made little or no impression on the audience. His responses to questions were rambling and evasive. Kumar, the Amnesty International representative, was scathing — compared Malaysia to Myanmar in terms of adherence to the Rule of Law. Nazri went off at a tangent and gave long definitions about the Rule of Law and good governance. His bull carried no weight.

    He was no better when questioned by Hibert Murray, formerly of the Far Eastern Economic Review who was in jail as guest of the Malaysian King, on the Allah issue – putting the blame on Roman Catholic Archbishop of Malaysia for instigating the issue. He said it was okay to use Allah in East Malaysia but it is taboo in Peninsula Malaysia. There were the usual worn out excuses for the ISA. The people involved in the cow head –episode, in the de facto Law Minister’s view, had broken no laws and it was, therefore, difficult to prosecute them. What crap is that!. I bowed my head in embarrassment at this outrageous comment. No permits from the Police are required to hold demonstrations, a fact Nazri conveniently forgot.

    Dato Abu Kassim, the Commissioner of MACC, was boring sick as he described the various Committees that were created to oversee the MACC. In response to questions about the independence of MACC, he said it had freedom to investigate but not prosecute. No mention was made of the MACC’s selective persecution of opposition. That was up to the AG but the MACC Committees had power to “review”. On the Teoh Beng Hock issue, he was vague and evasive and said new processes for interrogations were under consideration. A question about the Mongolian model was completely side-stepped.

    Most in the audience left thoroughly disappointed. We all deserve a refund for this dismal performance.

  3. Thank you Malaysian Student for your comprehensive report on the “closed door and off the record” CSIS seminar in DC. What Governance and The Rule of Law are they talking about. CSIS ought to feel embarrassed.

    Good luck to you in your studies and do your best to make Malaysia proud. You can decide whether you want come home after you have earned a good degree from George Washington University. Let me tell you that it is tough being a Malaysian diplomat when we have goons and bozos making and conducting foreign policy in Putrajaya.–Din Merican

  4. “Gani Patail, we were was told by our “pengcubit punggung” Ambassador JJ ….”

    Look boys! I think we should stop this fixation with butt pinching. I have done my fair share of bottom pinching and so has everyone in this room. It is much ado about nothing. The truth is the gals love having their bottoms pinched. They just don’t say it out loud. Why?! In San Francisco ( California is Shrek’s turf ) you can pinch the other guy’s bottom if you want.

  5. “Thus there were no media representatives. The rest of the audience were students including myself, odd US Government Departmental representatives, academics, a handful of the Malaysian diaspora, and retirees from the US Foreign service. This event did not attract the capital’s movers and shakers or opinion makers that the NAG team was dispatched to win over or seduce. It would appear that APCO, the lobbying firm, did not deliver after having collected their fat fees.”

    This is really worse than I thought. An ineffectual effort by ineffective lobbyists who were paid exorbitant fees which were then forked out to vested interests within UMNO.

    Those who attended came because they were dined and feted to a sumptuous dinner afterwards. Malaysian taxpayers have been had yet again!

  6. Perhaps AG Ganesh Patel “lawatan sambil belajar’ in Disneyland gathering evidence for MACC against Khir Toyo and wife (to be divorced soon as per Zorro Unmasked) ?

    NFA again?

    We are all of 1 race, the Human Race

  7. What a lousy bunch of idiotic monkeys from UMNO, sent to bring disgrace to the good people of Malaysia! Truly, these monkeys have been so disensitised that they feel no shame whatsoever. When the monkeys fall, in the next GE, we must make sure that these monkeys are brought to justice and punished accordingly.

  8. But what shocked the audience was to watch JJ’s antics at such an “important meeting” at such a “prestigious think tank.“

    Attorney-General Gani Patail and former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamed were somehow nowhere to be seen. – Raja Petra


    JJ, the man with the itchy hands that tends to roam unabated into forbidden territories, seemed to be agitated and distracted. I wonder whether there were any sweet young thing (SYT) present in the conference. Maybe he needed some toddy to calm himself.

    As for AG Gani Patail and former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamed, they seemed to have disappeared into some red-light district to enjoy the forbidden fruits of Washington and the allure got the better of their judgement and responsibilities that they couldn’t tell night from daylight.

  9. “Bashir was once in Malaysia in the 1980s studying some course. He must have picked up some esoteric science.” Netto.

    President Bashir of Sudan was a student at the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College, Kuala Lumpur in 1983. He was a colonel then. One former major from the Royal Malay Regiment, and a college mate, is a close friend of Bashir. The ex-major receives VIP treatment whenever he visits Bashir in Khartoum. The relationship has brought untold wealth to the officer.

    Old boys’ net still works even in the worst of place.

  10. Lucky we have Malaysian Student around to collaborate on the sewage we expected to see opened with the awful stench when the NAG idiots try to sound intelligent. Incredulous how they shame Malaysia at every turn. Malaysia Malu !

  11. Pingback: APCO’s apocalyptic CSIS seminar « O.B.E.

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