Friday, August 8, 2008

Shame! Another salacious saga we can do without…

“If thou speakest not I will fill my heart with thy silence and endure it. I will keep still and wait like the night with starry vigil and its head bent low with patience.
“The morning will surely come, the darkness will vanish, and thy voice pour down in golden streams breaking through the sky.
“Then thy words will take wing in songs from every one of my birds' nests, and thy melodies will break forth in flowers in all my forest groves.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali

Once again the tawdry, the salacious and the senseless seemed to have besmirched our mainstream politics.

Malaysians have been and will be dragged through the mud of explicit sex education of the foulest, most humiliating theatrics, all in the name of rule by law, purportedly to honour the humble request of a lowly citizen who cried foul because he claimed to have been buggered by non other than a potential Prime Minister in waiting!

He must have justice and and his pound of flesh, and our usually lethargic institutions have been marshalled with supreme efficiency and speed, to charge the accused...

At this juncture, I confess to be being biased. Having followed the highs and lows of Anwar Ibrahim's career, his rhetoric and his writings, I have come to the conclusion that he comes across as someone whom I can relate to. This is not to say that I necessarily agree with him in toto, but his ideals, when he passionately articulates or writes on these, are in the right direction.

More than a decade ago when I chanced upon his book on "The Asian Renaissance" I then realised that perhaps finally we have in Malaysia a leader of intellectual quality and substance. Here is evidence of his attempt at urbane conversation as to his ideals and hopes, about what Asians (including Muslims and Malaysians) can do to excel and to engage with the changing modern world. I believe this underlies his enlightened sincerity and moral courage. It certainly is totally incongruous with the accusations that he is a sexual deviant and pervert. Like what any computer would say: it just “does not compute…”

It is true that he is not without flaws, but then again which politician is 'squeakily clean'? For that matter, who amongst men are infallible? Who amongst us are qualified to cast the first stone? Nevertheless, a fair number of people I've spoken to, are still somewhat wary of his seemingly changeable (some have even labelled him chameleon-like) stance on some contentious communal, educational, economic issues.

He has in a limited way acknowledged that he has had a pretty checkered and questionable past during his tenure within the National Front government. Then, some of his ministerial decisions seemed to have been less than convincing, occasionally erratic and some would even say scheming and yes even politically expedient.

But like most people who are learning, adapting and now willing to listen to constantly shifting groundswells of opinions and ideologies, he has personally disavowed some of his poorer judgements of the past. More importantly, he and his colleagues have shown that they have the citizen's welfare and wellbeing at heart, and that policies and ideas are modifiable to cater to the greater good and the better of intentions. (See his recent interview with Shawn Crispin of Asia Times in Malaysia Today.)

Can his avowed pledge to stamp out corruption and nepotism and to promote greater accountability be any less rousing and consonant with our own aspirations? Should one simply be skeptical just because these are too populist? After all, shouldn’t the public expect their mundane concerns to be the motivating foci of their elected representatives?

Perhaps modern politics require one to be adaptable and enduring—most importantly, a successful politician and leader must have an inexhaustible store of strong core values which must continue to underlie his/her basic philosophy for life and an unshakable belief in the general public good...

Notwithstanding all these, the past few years since his freedom from incarceration, have seen the emergence of another Anwar, one who has sufficient conviction and charisma to now cobble together a functional coalition, the Pakatan Rakyat.

For the first time in Malaysian history, we appear to have a truly workable indeed viable alternative, in what is now touted as the preferred modern political reality, i.e. a less fractious but more efficient 2-party system. A closely-balanced 2-party system would allow easier changes of government, because they serve as mutual counterweights, for gritty checks and balances, to forestall vested excesses, corruption and misrule.

These demarcated polities allow for citizens to decide periodically (every 4-5 years) which side they prefer, and also allow them to keep or to spurn when these elected representatives fail to live up to their promises and expectations. No longer can elected parliamentarians be allowed to keep their sinecures, when they are corrupt, ineffective or plainly inept.

For many Malaysians, this represents a new hope, a new spirit of renewal which seemed to have fizzled or disappeared from the vocabulary of the incumbent powers, under the fossilized mindset of the ruling party—50 years tend to entrench one into immovable fortresses of decay and decadence...

Alas, hopeful concepts translating into hard-nosed realities would not easy. Indeed, such a revolutionary change is always thought to be difficult if not impossible to achieve, what with the incumbent powers wielding all the aces in the pack of cards...

Our institutions have been battered and are perhaps at their lowest ebb in morale and certainly in respectability and trustworthiness—public perception of them are at their rock-bottom lows.

Yet, prolonged incumbency and ingrained power-beliefs tend to make our officers of these institutions, imperious and self-protective, dishing out their oft repeated echoes that might is right, and that as the authorities still in charge, they would broach no dissent to their dictates and pronouncements, as if these were cast in concrete!

Some have lamented that following the shock upset of the March 8, 2008 elections, the government has been locked down in denial mode, and are no longer listening—somehow our rakyat's voices seem to no longer carry the weight of sense and balance anymore. Not only are their protestations and queries falling on deaf ears, they are given a talking down to, instead!

Some have detected great consternation and disbelief among the unaccustomed politicians under siege. Many are still disbelieving that they are now in such a shaky position of power dilution. They are so angry and indignant, that they are now bent on punishing those whom they believed have wrought such an unprepared cataclysm upon them!

The Lingam video debacle chronicling unabashed tempering of the judiciary must take the cake for executive abuse and excesses. It reaffirmed the rakyat's distaste of a tainted legal system, and solidified its worst suspicion that some very senior judges who were then in cahoots with some lawyers, can be bought hook, line and sinker!

Worse, the then Attorney-General (AG, our legal system's highest office) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP, highest ranking police officer) have now been accused of misconduct, tempering of evidence and witnesses, allegedly during their then lesser roles and ranks in the 1998 public-relations disaster!

Thus, it is not surprising that for the hard-pressed police force and the AG’s office, they would be more inclined to easily believe a young strapping accuser, rather than to perhaps consider that the accuser might have been lying, and that other motives may be involved. What better way to resolve once and for all, such a festering boil of unprecedented proportions in the shape and form of Anwar Ibrahim?

Once again, the possibility of righting that expunged evidence and parading of the sex-stained and DNA-tainted mattress, that undignified black-eye incident they had suffered some ten years ago, might seem appealing…

But then they fail to understand that the rakyat are no longer pliant believers in whatever spins the authorities are dishing out. They want to know why and more. And that if that were to be the case, they are questioning why the police is not entertaining other possible scenarios other than the ‘scripted.’

Why indeed is it so much more believable that the accused is capable of such a crime, compared with other more heinous crimes for which statutory declarations have also been made against other VIPs? Why indeed, the differential treatment and fast-tracked energies to charge with such haste?

The rakyat wants to know who the accuser is acting for, and for what personal gains to expose one's most intimate soul, nay, even body part and name, to such a glare of cheap and shameless publicity?

But, I suppose it is possible that if one is truly sexually assaulted, then one's demand for justice can be very strong, to redress such a wrong of shameful 'assault' against one's nature... Although most if not all rape victims tend to be so traumatized and self-ashamed, they would avoid undue publicity at all costs…

Indeed, for many among the Malaysian public, we wonder who would benefit from this highly damaging and publicly humiliating "character assassination to silence an effective leader of the political opposition" (to quote former US vice-president Al Gore)?

It is patently obvious to all political pundits and even the most neutral observer, that perhaps such a high profile politician as Anwar Ibrahim has been too charismatic, too popular, and who is by all intents and purposes too ready and poised at the cusp of re-entering his much derailed political destiny...

Apparently, this momentum—this tryst with destiny must be stopped at all cost, some believe... The timeliness of it all must be serendipity at its chanciest best, any other lottery would have been more difficult to imagine.

Notwithstanding the inept denials by the highest echelons of our society, the undisguised attempt to charge the opposition designate leader with the religiously-tainted odium of sodomy, cannot be but starkly clear to all except those ostriches whose heads are buried in the sand of self-blinkered ignoramuses.

What was surprising is the fact that the final charge seemed to have been whittled down to one of consensual if illegal form of sex, i.e. sodomy, without the hint of assault (i.e. rape) and only on one occasion, at one locale. This is in spite of the earlier leaked reports and accusations that the "poor" victim pleading for justice had been "sexually assaulted" at least several times!

One wonders if this was the best that the police and prosecutors could come up with, because of the inadvertently-leaked medical report from Pusrawi Hospital which had found no such injury, and which would have made the later reports untenable, especially if totally discordant but exaggerated reports were to emerge just a few hours or days after the first examination!

Again, maybe because justice sometimes works in mysterious ways, another statutory declaration (SD) has emerged—this time by the same beleaguered Dr Mohamed Osman, on the harrowing and intimidating experience of trying to be true to his calling and profession. As a medical professional myself, I salute his valiant courage in steadfastly standing up to this impudent affront of such despicable pressure, if this were to be true.

Yet again, sadly, he has chosen to expose the machinations of certain powers through the only sane and foolhardy brave soul of RPK (Raja Petra Kamaruddin). Has this audacious web portal of Malaysia Today now become the bastion sanctuary for all whistle-blowers, because no other institution can now be trusted?

Not surprisingly though, the police is now investigating this SD with the view that it contains too many 'inaccuracies' and that it served to paint the police in a rather poor light... Once again, the police are upset. This SD’s authenticity is now in doubt, there are inconsistencies you see, so investigations are underway… Police CID chief has argued that this release of the SD is an attempt to undermine the police and discredit their work… "We strongly believe that this article is intended solely to skew public perception and to undermine police authority," Bakri said.

Alas, such is now what most Malaysians already know and believe. This SD is simply but one of a long litany of sequences of events which already has long undermined the credibility of the authorities even before this.

The police and the other institutions must now show us that they can rise above their waning rhetoric, indignant statements, selective prosecution, and show the public that they can be truly professional and impartial.

Would this be possible under such a climate of doubt and recriminations?

Or would salacity trump sagacity once again to the detriment of Malaysia…

Alas, who should the poor Malaysian public now believe?

An abbreviated article has been published in malaysiakini as Another salacious saga we can do without