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…