Friday Jottings: Rewarding the kleptocratic sympathisers

SUPPORTERS of the present government, be they from the DAP, Parti Keadilan Rakyat, or even the addendum Amanah, with the exception of those from Umno, suffer from an acute denial syndrome.

They refuse to accept that the growing rejection of their government is not as simplistic as what their leaders are narrating it to be – that is the swing towards extreme right politics or the green wave that is both rogue and big.

With that, the simple mind doesn’t have to think beyond the nose, and ignorance can be very blissful.

That, however, was before, and not too long ago.

The last couple of weeks have seen pro-reforms and the middle grounders questioning the commitment of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his Cabinet members to reform and good governance, as well as combatting the corruption scourge.

After all, the promise of weeding out corruption was worn like a hero’s medal on their election vests.

It is unravelling, and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) request by the prosecution seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Actually, it shouldn’t have taken that long for the blissful followers to come to their senses or realisation.

The tell-tale signs were there on the wall the minute Anwar appointed Zahid as his deputy.

First, it proved all the suspicions that they were in cahoots even before the polls were not mere speculations but instead were the essence of it all.

Secondly, it also proved that when Anwar announced, long before the 15th general election was called, that he had formidable and convincing numbers to realise his backdoor government, he had included Umno and Zahid in the math.

Simple calculations would show that only Umno would have had the key to the backdoor for Anwar then, as Bersatu and PAS were not prepared to be with Anwar and the DAP.

Unluckily for Anwar then, the “crimes” of Umno vis-à-vis their support for Mohd Najib Razak in the 1MDB scandal and Zahid’s dozens of cases were too glaring and obvious for Anwar and his ilk to ignore public opinion.

The opportunity came when the polls resulted in a hung government. While Perikatan Nasional was prepared to work with Umno but presumably with the same terms of reference as when they formed the government that resulted from the Sheraton Move.

Umno’s, or rather Zahid’s decision to work with Pakatan Harapan despite the bigger “enmity” towards PH than PN as displayed during the campaign period, can only be deduced from the fact that the terms offered by PN were not to their liking.

And PH’s offer to Zahid and Umno was obviously an offer they could not refuse. Otherwise, how would it explain their readiness to be in bed with the DAP and Anwar, when it would have been easier for their supporters to accept if they had chosen to work with PN instead?

For clarity, to understand what was being manoeuvred, popular opinions as to why Zahid and Umno pulled out and led the crumble of the Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin-led Government, merely 17 months after the Sheraton Move would again be of the essence.

What were popular opinions then, lest some forget? That Umno and Zahid could not get Muhyiddin, Bersatu, and PAS to agree to “intervene” in Najib’s cases and that of Zahid’s.

For posterity, and lest Malaysians forget, the Sheraton Move was without then PM and Bersatu chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was due to his refusal to work with a collective Umno.

Dr Mahathir told Muhyiddin that working with Umno was akin to riding the tiger in which, as a mauling was in store if its fancy were not met and the obvious fancy then was the dropping of Zahid’s cases and intervention in Najib’s.

Muhyiddin chose to ignore Dr Mahathir and the result was as predicted.

If the Muhyiddin episode was insufficient for clarity, his successor, Umno’s vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob took away the unenviable title of being the shortest serving PM of 10 days short of 14 months.

During that period, Datuk Azalina Othman Said pointed out that the attorney general should be appointed from among their own, meaning that the AG should be a supporter of Umno or at least pliant to Umno’s whims.

Azalina today is in double-speak mode insisting that the current government which had her appointed as the Law and Institutional Reform Minister, was committed to the separation of the AG from the public prosecutor.

But Zahid and Azalina are not the only anti-thesis to reforms whom Anwar and his Government had appointed to cushy positions.

The other Umno appointees who continued to defend Najib and demand his pardon mocked the fight against corruption and kleptocracy by the cross-section of Malaysian society.

It was pointed out that not only were such appointees confined to the political circles, but even media opportunists who had written glowing reports of the 1MDB and its scandalous partners are now rewarded.

While these personalities are shameless, those who appointed them had actually betrayed the fight against the kleptocrats and corruptors.

Simply put, those denounced for abetting, or being complicit in the 1MDB scandal are being rewarded while those who were incarcerated and punished for standing up against Najib, Zahid, and their ilk, are being treated as enemies of the state.

The tigers in their midst who were vocal and ferocious in combatting corruption and demanding reforms are quite muted or struggling to squeeze their grey matter to spin and justify their volte-face.

The problem is that their minds only work well when there is an opportunity and were never truly inspired by reforms and principles.

Hence, the prevalent plague of grey matter deficiency. –Pic by BERNAMA

  • Shamsul Akmar is an editor at The Malaysian Reserve.