Badawi attracted international attention, the wrong way

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Feb 18 2008
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There’re many ways to skin a cat, so goes the saying. As far as a leader of a nation is concerned, there’re many ways to attract international attention as well. Former premier Mahathir chose to worship the Japan while blasted the Western during his dictatorship, so much so that he was labeled as anti-Semitic by United States, Australia, Canada, Britain, European Union and of course Israel. Those were the days when Mahathir was the outspoken Prime Minister of Malaysia.

His successor, current Abdullah Badawi, hope to achieve the same feat – the wrong way. Internationally he hasn’t achieves much recognition until recently. Everything started from street demonstration. First there were thousands of lawyers marching for “Justice”. Then you had the peaceful BERSIH and Hindraf demonstrations, only to be greeted with water cannon, teargas and whatever chemical weapon in the name of public security. BERSIH peaceful demonstration was dominated by Malay although you can see Chinese and Indian participants that swelled to 40,000 people. Hindraf on the other hand was a demonstration staged by Indian. Five Hindraf leaders have since been “locked” at the pleasure of the Prime Minister in the name ISA, the dragonian detention without trial.

Badawi only accept roses on ValentineThe latest peaceful demonstration was held Saturday by more than 300 people. The “Rose March” was to present roses (by children) to Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and to request for release the five Indian rights group Hindraf leaders detained. Not only was the PM not available to receive the roses (perhaps Badawi thought he could only receive roses during Valentine Day), police detained 160 people in scuffles during the rally and later outside a Hindu temple nearby. Most have since been released but lawyers claimed a female protestor – one of nine who are being held till Monday – was abused in custody. Her lawyer, Gobind Singh, claimed she was beaten up by the police during detention and denied medical treatment – reported AFP.

Abdullah has the cheek to condemn the protests, saying it was an attempt to disrupt the elections. Strangely when the Hindraf claimed the Indian were systematically marginalized, Abdullah Badawi denied it strongly and said the Indian are well taken care of. If what the PM claimed is true then he should just let the peaceful protesters go ahead and be there to receive the roses (roses are not cheap mind you). If he has indeed taken good care of the minority Indian, then logically these people have no reason to demonstrate, no?

If the government has taken care of Indian community, then PM should not have said that street protests and anger within the Indian community could have an impact on how the government fares in the general elections. The rest of the Indians will continue to give their votes to the ruling government (there’s no government as of today since the Parliament has been dissolved) just like the old time and the PM should have good night sleeps without worrying about the 300 or so demonstrators. But this is not the case. The PM, deputy PM, Samy Vellu (claimed to be the Indian community’s leader) and the rest of the leaders are dead concern about Indian votes, not to mention the Chinese votes that will surely swing to oppositions this time around.

Badawi No Peaceful GatheringsNo doubt this time Badawi’s team is banking purely on Malay votes, which stays united for the coming 12th General Election. The international coverage on how Badawi manages the peaceful demonstrations has indeed gives him the reputation as the leader of a police state. Mahathir offended the Western countries but he won the Islamic and third world countries’ heart. What about Abdullah Badawi? If he can’t even manage his own country with respect from his own people, how could he expect to earn the same respect from other leaders globally? MalaysiaKini reported that Indians across the world demonstrated outside the offices of Malaysian embassies. Maybe he’s super satisfy and proud of his version of Islam Hadhari but according to Wikipedia, even the theory of Islam Hadhari was originally founded by the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman in 1957 but was under different name.

He should start by opening up his monopoly in granting permits to demonstrators not associated with his own party (or allies). If his own son in law, Khairy, could have free hands in organizing demonstrators (against official guest US State Secretary Rice not so long ago) with guaranteed police permit (or was there one in the first place?), why can’t the others? And he should at least put his leadership level on par with other leaders by not insulting his own intelligence by saying: “There’s never been peaceful gathering”.

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