Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Umno's war against Malaysia
author_photo("Dean Johns")
Dean JohnsJul 22, 0911:21am

The suspicious death of Teoh Beng Hock last week while in the custody of the Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission (MACC) has provoked such an outpouring of rage against the Umno-dominated Barisan Nasional government that there's little point in adding my two cents' worth.

Except to make the point that, rather than reacting to every successive atrocity as if it were an isolated case, it's time to put all the pieces together and face the big picture: that Umno is waging an increasingly uncivil war against the Malaysia that most Malaysians stand for.

Since the decimation of long-term allies like the MIC and MCA in the 2008 general election, and a string of electoral setbacks of its own since then, Umno has been steadily escalating hostilities in its fight to regain lost ground.

Admittedly it hasn't yet resorted to the ultimate weapon of so many other rotten, repressive regimes - the replacement of the ballot with the bullet.

But it has taken to using money as ammunition more blatantly than ever, as in its infamous repurchase of power in Perak and the case of the bridge and other bribes that recently almost bought it victory in the Manek Urai by-election.

And in clear contradiction of its claim to be committed to the concept of equality for all in '1Malaysia', it has been shamelessly practising its traditional and highly successful 'divide and conquer' tactic through the promotion of conflict.

Recently-proposed 'unity' talks with Islamic party PAS appear to have made considerable impact. It has caused bad blood if not yet outright hostility between PAS factions, and weakened many voters' faith in the party's future as a force in the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat.

And the current commander-in-chief of Umno, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, has given the lie to his brave new '1Malaysia' war-cry by firing-off a salvo declaring it the bounden duty of every Malay and thus every Muslim to enlist in the Umno cause.

As ever, Najib's assault on the hearts and minds of the nation are being strongly supported by Umno's propaganda brigade, the mercenaries and camp-followers of Malaysia's mainstream media.

Recent examples of guerilla journalism in support of the Umno cause include an article by New Straits Times Group managing editor Zainul Ariffin Isa, who accused critics of the MACC over Teoh's death of trying to “demonise Malay institutions”. Another was the craven call by Wong Chun Wai, group chief editor of Star, not to “politicise” the situation.

But this war goes far beyond words. The shock-troops in Umno's increasingly savage assaults on Malaysia, its citizens and constitution are the police, judiciary and other supposedly impartial protectors of the populace, like the Electoral Commission and the MACC.

These renegade organisations have apparently abandoned all but the thinnest pretence of neutrality in favour of serving as hired guns for Umno.

The MACC, for example, mounts ferocious attacks on corruption, but only when this is alleged to have been committed by Umno's enemies, opposition parties and their supporters. Arguably unfounded accusations of alleged infractions by Selangor Pakatan assemblypersons are being dealt with so severely, as to result in the death of an innocent bystander.

Meanwhile, it completely ignores far more tempting targets like Umno's Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, a former menteri besar of Selangor who has allegedly amassed and spent a fortune way beyond his legitimate means.

The MACC also suspiciously lacks aggression in its pursuit of dozens of other Umno and Umno-related prey, like the perpetrators of the RM12-billion Port Klang Free Zone atrocity.

Similarly, the force supposedly charged with guarding the nation's electoral system, the EC, appears utterly derelict in its duty when it comes to the gerrymandering, roll-stacking and vote-buying on which Umno's survival so heavily depends.

Losing battle

But when it comes to crimes in Umno's war against Malaysia, the EC and MACC look like pacifists compared with the police. However many deceased electors that the EC carries on its voter rolls, I've never heard it accused of actually killing any. Nor, as far as I know, has the MACC been suspected of torturing and murdering witnesses before the case of Teoh.

The police have accounted for so many victims, either killed in suspicious shoot-outs or dead as a result of 'accidents' or mysterious 'illnesses' in custody. So many of the deceased are Indians and Chinese Malaysians or foreigners that the scale of these activities almost amounts to ethnic cleansing.

Nobody knows the true toll the police take of Umno's enemies, however, as their activities are shrouded in secrecy. Few cases, if any, are ever properly investigated or prosecuted, even when they come to public notice or achieve outright notoriety like those of Altantuya Shaariibuu and A Kugan.

In any event, the Malaysian police have more vital missions to perform than investigating their own affairs. Like tear-gassing, beating and arresting unarmed citizens who peacefully assemble to protest against Umno; blocking roads to prevent anti-Umno rallies; and massing outside polling stations and opposition ceramah (political talks) to put the fear of God into Umno's enemies.

With all this muscle on its side, however, and a seemingly limitless supply of pillaged public money in its war-chest, Umno sometimes finds itself fighting a losing battle. But it always seems to have an arsenal of alternative weapons and fallback strategies for times like this. Like the well-worn trick of calling a truce and surrendering to public demand for a royal commission.

But, as we've seen since the one conducted on the police force a few years ago, and more recently on the judiciary, royal commissions are nothing but diversionary tactics designed to buy Umno time to regroup and rearm before going back on the offensive.

As offensive as Umno is, however, and as weary as most Malaysians must be after 50 years of fighting in vain for fairness, equality, justice and freedom, at least there's consolation in the knowledge that nothing lasts forever. There's always the chance that Umno will finally self-destruct like the Marcos regime in the Philippines or the Suharto military dictatorship in Indonesia.

I just hope that the forces of enlightenment, progress and active but peaceful resistance can somehow finally defeat the warmongers and whoremongers of Umno before they utterly destroy Malaysia the way the generals and their army have devastated Burma, and Mugabe and his 'war veterans' have totally trashed Zimbabwe.


We Malaysians owe the family of the late Teoh Beng Hock a profound apology for voting in a Federal Government that does not respect universal human values nor human decency.

We know it is very difficult for the family as it is already heart-wrenching to us. Still, we hope his family can be strong, knowing full well that though Beng Hock has indeed departed from us, yet his legacy shall forever live in our hearts.

God bless Beng Hock, God bless his child and God bless his family.