Monday, March 27, 2017

Umnesty, The Best Policy? (revisited)

The New Straits Times Group, fully owned by Umno, have a travel-and-tours subsidiary called Enesty - which once led to my flippantly suggesting they adopt as a corporate tagline, "Enesty is the best policy."

Since the exhilarating results of GE12 - which might have been far more exciting if BN had been reduced to playing the role of Opposition, instead of still clinging on to the reins of federal power (a feat accomplished through massive electoral fraud, gerrymandering and devious manipulation of postal votes) - Umno has been misbehaving so hideously the party has become a bad joke in very poor taste.

As things stand - with between 70-80% of the rakyat pushing for REFORMASI under a Pakatan Rakyat government, led by the increasingly popular Anwar Ibrahim - the entire nation seems to be in a political deadlock.

Anwar Ibrahim at the Kelana Jaya Stadium, 6 July 2008 (Photo courtesy of TV Smith)
The Pakatan Rakyat cannot move forward without a sizeable section of BN parliamentarians crossing over. And BN is paralyzed by its abject fear of non-survival - for its survival as a political party now depends entirely on holding on desperately to the primary tools of governance, viz., control of the mass media, the police force, the treasury, judiciary, and the armed forces.

BN's fear is very real and understandable. Once it loses power, anything can happen. A brand new government would abolish the repressive laws that have all but stifled dissent since the Mahathir era. With the complete overhaul of the judiciary and police force, replacing the contaminated elements with politically neutral and professionally qualified personnel in key positions, thousands of Umno skeletons will surely come tumbling out of the closet.

Not just Umno misdeeds perpetrated by members of the present cabinet, but the lifting of the lid on issues of criminal mismanagement will unearth reprehensible acts carried out by former Umno warlords like (to name but a tiny handful) former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, former home minister Megat Junid, former Malacca chief minister Rahim Thamby Chik, and scores of their cronies in the corporate sector.

Former finance minister & Umno mafia don
Tun Daim Zainuddin
Would the rakyat be content to let bygones be bygones? Personally, I think not. Simply because the magnitude of the criminal excesses committed by various Umno, MCA and MIC leaders (particularly during the Mahathir era) must be exposed to the light of day. The poison must be pumped out of the system once and for all or it will work its evil again on any administration, especially since the backbone of government is the civil service - and old, entrenched ways are hard to weed out without some sort of ritual, Greek theatre style, catharsis.

The problem is that these miscreants are extremely well-connected. Like a rainforest ecosystem the complex intertwinings of political and financial power reach far and wide and, ultimately, impact on millions of lives. In America a similar situation prevails wherein influential political families like the Bushes, Kennedys, Rockefellers, and so on are genetically and economically linked with a plethora of other powerful lobbies - not the least of which is the Zionist-Israeli-Khazarian lobby which cohabits openly with the rightwing fundamentalist Christian lobby and heavy-duty media owners, defense contractors, the Pentagon top brass, US Airforce, and the Office of Naval Research.

In effect, yanking out a Godfather-like entity like Daim Zainuddin will reveal an entire root system of corruption, greed and corporate misdeeds stretching across the region and back in time over generations. The Status Quo cannot be forcibly and too hastily demolished, lest the ceiling itself collapses around us and kills some of our family members and friends.

Name the dirty deed. These characters in Umno, MCA and MIC have done it one time or another. From straightforward CBT (criminal breach of trust) and barefaced lying to outright theft, rape, incest, pedophilia, abduction, blackmail, and murder - the accumulation of BN's sins is monumental. Indeed, pile them up in a heap and even Mount Kinabalu would be dwarfed.

What I propose is that we take a page out of South Africa's book at the end of the Apartheid era. There was a period of National Reconciliation during which Special Commissions were allowed to investigate and expose a broad spectrum of abuses - particularly on the part of the secret police - and perpetrators were offered the opportunity to publicly apologize for their crimes. The most serious ones were then imprisoned for a spell before being paroled, while most were absolved and released from public service. In other words, many hardcore criminals received little more than a slap on the wrist.

This approach suits me fine as I personally do not believe that vengeance is all that healthy. Where forgiveness is possible, it has to be the option we choose. However, forgiveness is impossible without public revelation, full disclosure, and a heartfelt expression of remorse. The stubbornly recalcitrant understand only one thing: harsh justice. So we have to give them what they want - but in gentle, measured doses. For we don't want to become like our enemies. "You become what you hate" is indeed a sagely observation.

So let's consider a period of Umnesty - when we allow Umno warlords and senior lackeys the chance to come clean, so to speak, with the proviso that they will not be too sternly judged and punished for past misdeeds. Once the terror of severe punishment is allayed, we may witness a collective sigh of relief such as has never been heard in the entire spectrum of time. Those who have misappropriated the rakyat's money will be required to voluntarily return at least two-thirds of it. A wag of the public finger, a sharp slap on the wrist, perhaps a token jail sentence and/or fine. More serious crimes - like blackmail, conspiracy to defraud the public, and even cold-blooded murder will, under the terms of our Umnesty, be handled with genuine compassion and mercy.

For example, if Najib and Rosmah confess to their complicity in the abduction and gruesome murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, we shall not demand that they be "hanged by their necks till they die." We shall give them the chance to buy their freedom by returning 90% of the ill-gotten gains acquired through abuse of their privileged positions - and then allow them to live their lives out undisturbed in any country that will offer them permanent residence. They will only be allowed to visit Malaysia after a minimum cooling-off period of seven years; and, even then, they can only stay for a maximum of three months each time, like any other tourists.

As for Dr Mahathir, perhaps the best punishment is to simply ignore him. In any case, I'm pretty certain that the day Anwar Ibrahim takes his oath of office as Malaysia's new prime minister, the foxy old coot will suffer his final, fatal heart attack. He will be given a modest-scale funeral and buried in an unmarked grave - so nobody will be tempted to defecate on it. As a human being, he deserves at least that much respect.

[First posted 24 July 2008]