The mystical power of logic


IT WAS a “tears from a tree” rush in a village in Kota Baru, Kelantan, a few weeks ago. Residents there seemed enthralled by the phenomenon of a “crying petai (stinky bean) tree”, believing that the secreted liquid has mystical powers.

The collected “tears” were reportedly used for bathing, while others drank it, prompting the state mufti to remind the collectors that such belief of mystical powers could be tantamount to polytheism or syirik in Islam.

All these had occurred before a zoologist unravelled the mystery of the crying tree; that the “tears” were actually the urine of cicadas that had gathered in large numbers in the tree.

Presumably, the villagers had discontinued with the drinking or bathing of the “tears” following the revelation as there have been no further reports of the rush for the tears.

The gullibility of some is pretty amazing, especially when an unexplained phenomenon is equated to mysticism and divine prowess.

Yet, there may be something redeeming in their experience. At least their gullibility, which lasted a week, is based on an unexplained phenomenon.

But there’s something very wrong about the gullibility of some PAS members who are still trying to defend the out of court settlement sought by their president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang over his defamation suit against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown for a 2016 article that alleged PAS received a RM90 million pay-off to support Umno and Barisan Nasional. The money is purportedly from 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) coffers.

Firstly, they tried to justify that Rewcastle-Brown had agreed to the settlement because she had no proof to justify her allegations. Then, they were fed with extraordinary logic from PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, who said since former Umno president Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak had denied giving money to PAS, then obviously there was no such transaction. Such logic is incredulous.

If Abdul Hadi had filed the suit, only to withdraw it and opt for an out of court settlement, surely it can’t be the defendant who is wanting but rather the other way round.

The very act of opting for an out of court settlement, if not an admittance that there is truth in the allegation, can probably be read as not denying it.

It can of course be argued that there have been numerous allegations made against politicians and they have been let pass without being challenged or being sued.

While that is true, in the case of Abdul Hadi and PAS, they decided not to let it pass and instead, wanted to make a point through the court case, in particular, in a foreign court of law, where political interference would be difficult to even imply, let alone an outright accusation.

The reason why the case was pursued was simply because the Rewcastle-Brown allegations placed PAS and its leadership in the same league as Umno, who stands accused of plundering the nation vis-à-vis the 1MDB scandal.

Unable to accept such infamy, the suit was filed and a top English lawyer was engaged. Such was the burden of the legal cost that PAS embarked on a fund drive, managing at one point to collect almost RM100,000 more than the RM400,000 required for the lawyer’s fees, and it was done in a period of four days, a feat that PAS leaders were proud to announce.

And Tuan Ibrahim must have been joking when he gave his reasoning and those reporting it may have missed his humour. Otherwise, how does one accept, without a pinch of salt, Najib’s denial of dishing out the funds when it was linked to the 1MDB funds?

But the gullibility of those who swallowed dubious logic from PAS is no less than those who are now rallying around Najib for his new-found social media trolling ability and their frustrations with the current government for perceived non-performance.

Their ability to ignore Najib’s dozens of 1MDB-related cases and turn to him when dissatisfied with the current government is baffling.

Some has argued that Najib is not guilty as he has yet to be found so by the courts. But surely, the least they can do is to wait until the court commences with his cases. Both Najib and his wife stand accused of plundering the nation of billions, money that belongs to the rakyat, the very people who are falling over each other to take selfies with him.

Probably they don’t mind that. After all, their anger towards the current administration for not fulfilling some of the election promises naturally leads to accusations of being cheated and the phrase used in Malay is that they had been urinated upon.

So, it is a case, since the Pakatan Harapan government has cheated them over the last nine months, they incredibly turn to Najib who faces accusations of having cheated the nation over the last five or six years of his rule.

There’s a possible explanation for this: They have been drinking from their own crying petai tree.

  • Shamsul Akmar is the editor at The Malaysian Reserve.