#BERSIH4: Mahathir licked his vomit, being his penultimate strategy

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With his trademark cynical smirk, the old retired tin-pot dictator came down to inspect the troops. And they responded with rounds and rounds of mindless applause, even though the old man did not speak to them. It looked routine except that the scene begged pertinent questions.

Wasn’t this that hated monster who locked up people for getting together and speaking up against him? And wasn’t the crowd the bleeding-heart tree-huggers who religiously hung on to the rights of free speech and assembly, in the best of times? How times change, especially for those whose principles change with personal interests.

We don’t know who compromised what. That’s not the issue. Not interested. That question would bring endless boring self-serving rationalisations. It is suffice to note that while they appear to be comrades-at-arms, the thing is, are they both fighting for the same issue?

What is on the table is obvious to the public eye – prime minister Najib Razak must go, so they both screamed. That mandated this unholy friendship. Can it be a friendship of convenience be fostered while fighting for differing bigger agendas? Can hatred of the alleged doings of a single person really make you break principles and dump age-old beliefs publicly?

The answer is camouflaged in the fog of hypocritical Malaysian politics. The demographics of the protesting crowd stir some interesting possibilities. 80% to 90% of the crowd were Chinese Malaysians. No, that kind of Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian racial observation, indirectly accusing the protestors of being racists. Not that mean.

Just a pragmatic deduction. Surely Najib is not what he is accused of today as a result of personal excesses. The amount alleged is so huge it could have only been made possible and manifested by a huge machine of malaise that was decades in the making. Guess who had access to that machine manned by idiots, lazy and stupid people?

They are the ones to be blamed. But to demean a class of people of the same ethnicity will be deemed racism. Let’s just go after one person, but the engine that drives that anger can be fed by that sentiment anyway.

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Nah, not that bad la. But I can safely deduce that at least 70% of the non-Malay protesters harbour at least a little bit of that long-festered feelings of anger and frustration and revenge of what they perceive to be racial discrimination by lazy and stupid natives. Be honest.

I would feel the same way too especially if I was not told of the background of why things are the way they are, in the vernacular school I went too. A dual economy and separate social infrastructure cemented further my everyday feelings.

So the immediate target is, whoever it is who is from that set-up, better still if he is really guilty of shit things. But the broader objective is to tell them we have woken up and we are the better percentage of the population. Perfectly understandable especially if you are familiar with the kiasu culture. I would do the same in the circumstances.

And how does the ex-free-speech hater Dr. Mahathir becomes allies with his traditional quarry? And what is his agenda in this masquerade? Simple. As the designer and creator of this huge patronage machine, he wants it to go on as his legacy to his party that his son will inherit. When it looked like someone is putting it in jeopardy, he has to pre-empt that.

Remove the guy. But he doesn’t want to go. The irony is the things that make it tough and almost impossible to dislodge Najib Razak as prime minister were also the old man’s legacy of cramping democratic space. It’s not Najib’s fault if he is a good learner. Things were looking a bit desperate. Najib had been following the script with firings, sackings, and soon maybe even jailings. Then comes BERSIH.

Succumbing to the maxim that my enemy’s enemy is my friend, Mahathir now has a convenient ally. True to his record, he doesn’t give a shit about free speech and people power. Otherwise he won’t be PM for 22 years. Bite the bullet he did. He may have to fight his ‘friends’ later. But that is vintage Mahathir.

Wouldn’t BERSIH mind his past? Nah, they got plans too. A smattering few of BERSIH sincere followers did complain, but higher-ups of BERSIH ignored or patronisingly placated them. BERSIH is not run by higher-ups anyway, but by influential people with contingent interests. Mahathir’s visible support is an admission that they are a force to be reckoned with. ‘Even the old man kow-tim!’, most of the post-BERSIH-theme-park goers will say.

With BERSIH’s ardent followers, Mahathir now has an army which his wife had christened ‘People Power’. Now he can claim to the world that the ‘people’ wants Najib to go. All 100,000 of them. The 30 million others don’t seem to count. So everybody used everybody, in the cooperative spirit of Merdeka.

What about Najib? The same question I had asked my Al-Azhar Uztaz. His answer was non-committal, “If he is guilty, he has go. Allah has ordained that.” And the fringe players? “Like Mat Sabu and Ambiga?” he asked. He opened a book of Chinese proverbs and pointed to a page for me to read:

“He who knows and knows he knows,

He is a wise man, seek him.

He who knows and knows not he knows,

He is asleep, wake him.

He who knows not and knows he knows not,

He is a child, teach him.

He who knows not and knows not he knows not,

He is a fool, shun him.”

I wonder which one is who, in this theatre of the absurd.

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