It’s been 50 years since a U.S. Secretary of State stepped foot in Myanmar, now shattered and isolated after decades of military rule. Hillary Clinton’s upcoming visit to the country, which was formerly known as Burma, is something many never expected to see especially after years of paranoid authoritarianism and Soviet-style economic management under military junta. However one can only do so much under international isolation and finally the new president, U Thein Sein, a former general, admitted he needs international legitimacy and recognition.
Surely the new president has to agree to a democratization process, though it could come at a snail-pace speed, and Clinton’s visit is all about that – to see and hear the commitment from the military government. But Myanmar, seen as a pariah-state by the West, immediately attracted comparison with another country, Malaysia, for the wrong reason. Suddenly, Malaysia, under Najib Razak administration, become the laughing stock because its citizens now have less freedom compared to Myanmar, thanks to the recently rushed Peaceful Assembly Law.
Mahathir Mohamad, former premier who ruled with iron-fist, immediately voiced his support for the controversial law, as expected. However there’re other interesting yet mind-boggling opinions from Mahathir that you should pay attention. In fact, this is good news to the opposition and to a certain extent, Najib’s camp. Mahathir, together with his 3M members are actually panic. Mahathir is a master in mind games and he likes to play reverse psychology with his enemies. He claimed he was confident Arab Spring, in referring to Middle East style revolts, was unlikely to spread to Malaysia – but in actual fact he was deadly worried that such uprising could happen anytime.
If it’s easier for the world to end in 2012 than for such revolts to happen in Malaysia, why on earth would the old man waste his time and breath on such minor topic? He knew it could happen, what more with the blatant super-corruption scandals, one after another being exposed with very little interest from the government to combat it. The latest RM250 million NFC Cowgate scandal was awarded to Shahrizat’s family, led by her husband and three children, all of whom know nuts about cattle-rearing except eating beef-satay. It’s amusing that Shahrizat shamelessly, proudly and arrogantly declare that her family deserves it because they were hard-working.
There’s no doubt that Mahathir started the engine of corruption but he has definitely underestimate how the corruption spread like wildfire since he left office. Worse still, almost 99.99% of UMNO members think there’s nothing wrong with the RM250 million scandal which saw the taxpayers money were used instead to purchase luxury condo, overseas trips, plots of land, half a million ringgit Mercedes Benz CLS 350 CGI and whatnot. Envy of Shahrizat’s new found fortune, the delegates from UMNO Wanita openly urged Najib administration to allocate (more like giveaway) projects to the women wing as well.
And this is sending shivers down Mahathir’s spine simply because it confirms the next problem – internal sabotage. Corruption, giveaway projects, easy money otherwise no votes, inflated contractors have become Mahathir’s (new) UMNO’s new nightmare. Heck, the whole system has become so polluted and messy that AirAsia Berhad’s (KLSE: AIRASIA, stock-code 5099) boss, Tony Fernandes, has declares war with “Say No to Airport Tax Increase” campaign today against government-linked company, MAHB, simply because Malaysia Airports wants to get easy revenue instead of being innovative and efficient.
The joke going around – do you know how “well-fed” UMNO delegates who blindly threw their support to their leaders are? Well, look at how obese they are, of course. While the average-Joes are struggling with escalating cost of living, UMNO leaders are munching away the nation’s fortune, at an alarming speed. Hence, the plan to fill only “winnable” candidates in the next general election is tantamount to invite internal sabotage and back-stabbing since all the (“un-winnable”) warlords have been practically milking riches doing nothing. That was the reason Mahathir was not in favour of Najib’s winnable-candidates-only strategy.
Shahrizat’s Cowgate scandal was a good example why winnable-candidate strategy won’t work. The scandal is also a good litmus test to see how serious Najib was with the plan because obviously Shahrizat is not a winnable candidate. But Najib can’t boot Shahrizat out of the list because she’s the leader of the women wing, not to mention she a very close ally of Muhyiddin, the deputy PM and PM wannabe. Muhyiddin has openly defended Shahrizat in the Cowgate scandal and that speaks volume and the reason why warlord Shahrizat was so arrogant and cocky.
Najib is expected to call a snap election early 2012, probably after the Chinese New Year. That was the reason 28-year-old Nazifuddin, Najib’s son, resigned in lightning speed as director of Harvest Court Industries Berhad after his controversial appointment. Mahathir has every reason to worry since the opposition is expected to play to the fullest UMNO’s scandals – Shahrizat’s RM250 million Cowgate, Auntie Rosy’s RM24 million diamond ring and the latest naughty jokes of Shahrizat’s RM26,000 bra (*grin*). This also means the government can kiss the Chinese votes goodbye.
Mahathir also tried to joke that smarter voters are giving the present government headaches especially with the advancement in information technology, not to mention the popular social networking. You can bet that he was relieved in a way that such technology did not flourish during his 22-year-rule. Indirectly he hinted he was lucky to have stupid or fools who voted and worship him as if he was the Egyptian’s Greatest Pharaoh. But that doesn’t hide his worry that UMNO may not be able to win a comfortable victory in the coming 13th general election even with the tens of thousands of cheating illegal workers’ votes behind them.
Mahathir can’t do much about the young voters who worship internet and despise government controlled media. The government cannot brainwash the Facebook and Twitter generation and this is worrying Mahathir. You can’t fool that the RM1.8 million spent on Facebook was a freaking good idea. From the global support for the previous Bersih 2.0, Mahathir knows the Middle East style uprising is real and could explode anytime if the right ingredients are put in place. And that was why the Peaceful Assembly Law was rushed before the general election. Mahathir is praying hard there won’t be any hung Parliament – it could spark the peoples’ revolt if Najib administration blatantly bulldoze against the result and claim the government, never mind without international legitimacy and recognition.
Yes, Najib’s administration will most likely win the next general election but Mahathir is deadly worry about the result of the election as well. If Najib win too big, Mahathir-Muhyiddin’s plan to unseat Najib would be affected. If the status quo remains, there’s a possibility of the opposition taking over the government. Anwar has learnt the lesson from his previous Sept 16 takeover plan, and he’s not going to repeat his mistake twice. He’s well prepared for the eventuality of a hung parliament. In actual fact, as we speak, Anwar has pretty much secured a latest list of possible frogs from Najib’s administration. In order to form the next government, these frogs would get whatever they demand to jump over to Anwar’s camp.
Nevertheless between the two, Muhyiddin is more desperate than Mahathir and this can be seen by how the deputy PM played the Malay sentiments to the tip of mount Everest, using DAP as the punching bag. Poor DAP was accused of being anti-Malay, anti-Islam, insults civil servants, disrespect royal institution, wanted to turn Malaysia into a republic and whatnot. Heck, if possible Muhyiddin would like to even accuse DAP of having a role in Andy Lau’s wife, Carol Chu’s pregnancy. This is understandable because Muhyiddin is the next in line to become the Prime Minister.
Next year, 2012, will indeed be an extraordinary year. Times will tell if Najib’s latest formula of “extraordinary work to get extraordinary victory” will work or not. It could turn out to be an extraordinary defeat or victory for either the present government or the hungry opposition. It could also trigger an extraordinary uprising due to extraordinary cheating by Najib’s administration. It could also bring about an extraordinary internal sabotage within UMNO that even the opposition couldn’t believe it themselves. But for Shahrizat, she has already made his extraordinary moolah and enjoys her extraordinary luxury condo, extraordinary huge plots of land, extraordinary comfortable Mercedes Benz and extraordinary piece of bra.
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