March 6, 2013
Lahad Datu Incursion: Najib’s Political Albatross
by Mariam Mokhtar (03-04-13) @http://www.malaysiakini.com
Anyone who cares about the future of Malaysia should be alarmed by the complacency of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his cabinet about state security. He is a bumbling Prime Minister who trips from one scandal to another. He is adept at posturing on the world stage, but fails to grasp the seriousness of situations at home.
During his tenure, defenceless but peaceful protestors were beaten up, and teenagers shot at. Like a typical class bully, Najib shies away from those who are better armed and organised.
Imagine this scenario – A person walks into your house, through the front door which was left open, and makes himself at home. Do you extend him your hospitality? What would you do if this intruder demands more material comforts and refuses to budge? Since when did we, as a nation, negotiate with invaders?
The rakyat first registered their alarm when uniformed and armed Sulu militants landed in Sabah. In a classic error of judgement, Najib refused to take a break from political campaigning, preferring instead to get a head start before officially announcing the date of GE-13.
When will our ministers put themselves in the shoes of the farmers whose lives and livelihoods are at risk? Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein reportedly said that the men were neither terrorists, nor militants. The Sultan of Sulu’s wife claimed that the men were on a “picnic”. Days later, several men are dead. On whose hands are their blood?
Another person who should bear some blame is former PM (Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad. He masterminded “Project M”, which gave citizenship to illegal immigrants. Like Najib, he was obsessed with power.
Ironically, the modus operandi which assured a win for Mahathir and his party will eventually cause the downfall of UMNO. The foreigners who were issued with MyKads did not deserve them. The insurgents who died might have been their brothers. These MyKad holders will vote against BN.
Ministers have nothing useful to say
The Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman and his brother, the equally ineffective and disinterested Foreign Minister Anifah Aman whose face dominated the publicity shots during Najib’s ill-advised Gaza trip recently, have little to say. Neither have we heard anything of substance from Defence Minister (Dr.) Zahid Hamidi.
Army General Zulkifli Mat Zain praised the armed intruders in saying that they had combat experience and were skilled in insurgency tactics. The rakyat could have told him that, without any input from the intelligence services.
Mahathir acts under the illusion that he still rules Malaysia, he refuses to accept the role which he played in this recent bloodbath. He justifies the government’s ‘softly, softly’ approach because these intruders “have families and friends in Sabah” and were Muslims. He ‘forgot’ that these Muslim invaders have their own agenda. How insensitive can he get? What about the Malaysian lives which were lost?
Meanwhile, Najib fails to grasp the severity of the incursion. Media coverage has been scant and slanted. His cabinet has shown its arrogance and ignorance. It is disconnected from the sentiments and sensitivities of the Sabahans and Malaysians in general. Najib’s incompetence has played into the hands of Sabah separatists – both internal and external.
As a leader, Najib is increasingly isolated. As he loses control of the situation in Sabah, he turns to the usual bogeyman, Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
Najib portrays Anwar as a supervillain – a friend of Israel, Turkey, the United States and their Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), someone with uncontrollable sexual urges who masterminds fiscal deals, and who is also a porn star. Najib now wants to accuse Anwar of being the mastermind of the invading army. What else is new?
More importantly, does the electorate really care about Najib’s perception of Anwar? Shouldn’t Najib get his priorities right and maintain security first, rather than wasting precious resources trying to pin the blame on the Opposition?
Anyone who has ever lived and worked in Sabah or Sarawak will know about the abject poverty, the lack of infrastructure, and the many illegal immigrants from Indonesia and the Philippines. These are not new problems.
Every so often, kidnappings will focus the attention of the authorities, who react to protect the tourism industry rather than the population. In the past, some of us have tried to highlight the more common issues to the wider world, but the threat of the Internal Security Act (ISA), physical violence and retaliatory measures meant we were effectively gagged.
The collusion of UMNO and the media companies it owned meant that these disturbing stories were played down and seldom leaked out; until now.
Today we fight back
It could be said that for a while, Malaysians were lulled into thinking that violence in Sabah and Sarawak was limited to the karaoke bars when fights would break out over the quality of singing or the affections of B-girls. Today, the combination of a stronger opposition, dynamic activists and more vocal citizens are finally thwarting UMNO’s mass deception.
In November last year, a palm oil estate manager and his nephew had been kidnapped from Lahad Datu. As a precaution, marine patrols were increased. A few days later, insurgents armed with M16 rifles raided a fish landing platform near Tawau. The raid was reported by a lone worker, who hid from them.
Had the militants been testing the capabilities of our defence patrols? Anyway, the raiding party was able to slip through without being challenged.
It would be naive to think that no armed men entered Malaysian waters before the problem was first highlighted on February 12. Several trips and arms caches have probably been secreted throughout Sabah, awaiting a signal for deployment.
When will UMNO leaders put the country first, before themselves and the party? A political pundit has alleged that unless Najib raises his game drastically, he will be known as the most inept PM of Malaysia, sandwiched between the shamelessly corrupt Mahathir Mohamad and the feckless and inept Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Najib needs to stop prancing about on the world stage and deal with matters at home. As for Mahathir, his chickens have come home to roost, and our nightmares are about to begin.