A bewildering sense of detachment — Gopal Sreenevasan
JUNE 2 — What a week this has been. First up, was the recently retired chief gendarme, Musa Hassan, trying to explain to the public how the police dealt with gangsters in his time.
To paraphrase the interview, he said that with many types of crimes “gangsters were in a position to influence those in authority”.
He then went on to explain how he feared that gangsters would get involved with politicians, and uttered these priceless words, we are told, when expressing his concern about the influence of gangsters. “My fear is that … they could control politicians and enforcement agencies. The enforcement agencies will do as they are told and cannot take action.”
Musa went further to say that there were cases where arrests were made and politicians would direct that the person be released. It was his follow-up to this that had the resonance of a Freudian clanger. He is reported to have said: “What is this, when the person detained is not even a politician?”
Now it may be a simpleton’s logic, but it appears inescapable that at least two conclusions can be drawn from what he said.
First, that politicians influenced the police when he was the Inspector-General and if they did, there was nothing the police could do. The second is that if a politician intervened on his or her own behalf, well, there was nothing the enforcement agencies could do either. What disturbed him was when politicians sought to intervene on behalf of non-politicians. That was the “no-no”.
As a revelation, that is weighty not because it was an unknown state of affairs, but that it is in black and white and from Musa’s mouth.
As if this disclosure was not enough to provoke an already irritable bowel, it was followed by an announcement by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) that Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, the former Cabinet minister and Umno Wanita chief, had been cleared of “having a hand” in relation to the award of a RM250 million project by our government to a company controlled by her husband and children. Without drawing breath, the MACC also announced the re-opening of an investigation into an opposition politician.
The MACC, it was reported, found that Shahrizat played no role in the award of the RM250 million project to her family’s company. It was, is the ostensible conclusion, a matter of skill and chance that they rose above the rest of the herd to receive such largesse.
Hot on the heels of this was the announcement by the MACC that it would suggest that Cabinet ministers now declare if their relatives are in any way involved in an application for any government contracts or soft loans. Yes, you heard that right. Not that no Cabinet minister’s family should be involved in such a contract; merely that they must declare it. And to whom the declaration should be made, of course, remains an open, or rather closed, question.
It is at the end of a week such as this that you wish you were a child. When such fables could be received with wide-eyed amazement, only to happily discover the next day that they were not true. Sadly, we will all wake up tomorrow and realise that far from being a fable, we are in fact living an Elizabethan tragedy, with a comic overtone that only underscores the detachment between government and governed.
And if there was a lesson in that, it was not learnt this afternoon when the prime minister spoke at the birthday of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. In the wake of such a malodorous set of events this week, including the continued alleged physical attacks on opposition events, it was the perfect opportunity for the prime minister to stamp his authority as a man of change, not just of government and its sickly institutions, but of party politics and race.
Instead, the prime minister spoke of “quashing” any attempt at “public disorder” and chose to brandish the truncheon of state and party. It is a bewildering and detached response to an electorate grasping for a reason not to cast a jaundiced eye at the government.
However, the apparent fondness for words ending in “sh” such as “quash” and “crush” in relation to bodies at the next general election may well act as a siren for the country to reach for the bard’s famous comic figure, Puck, and cause them to make merry, rhyming, hell with his name at the next election. In conjunction, no doubt, with the word, off.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.