Monday, July 20, 2009

Call me PR-ejudiced

PKR hosted a very well-attended public forum Saturday, July 18th, on the Perak powergrab, PKFZ fiasco, and BN's insidious machinations against us, the public. It was oddly appropriate that the Disneylandish Sunway Resort Hotel was picked as the venue for this pivotal event, which marked a powerful resurgence of the Reformasi spirit Anwar Ibrahim introduced to Malaysia in September 1998. That word spells death to the way Umno has been operating.

Jeffery Cheah's Sunway Hotel & Spa Complex and its kitschy theme park atmosphere perfectly symbolizes the nouveau-riche vulgarity and bad taste of the Mahathir era when Malaysia's middle class suddenly expanded by leaps and bounds. "Progress and development" became a national obsession - and also a cynical excuse for riding roughshod over environmental concerns and issues of social justice, as Mahathir Mohamad impatiently and imperiously goaded the nation towards a spurious notion of cosmetic modernity codenamed Vision 2020.

Along with a burgeoning bourgeoisie arose a new breed of Malaysian citizenry, plugged into digital tech, savvy about global events, and articulate enough to express its frustration with an Umno/BN regime bogged down by its own feudalistic mindset. A popular backlash against Mahathirism was one of the sociopolitical spinoffs of rapid modernization Mahathir did not foresee.

Anwar Ibrahim - the man who in 1998 dared to publicly stand up against Mahathir Mohamad 's despotic management style (and barely lived to tell the tale) - was the star attraction at the forum and he arrived to a standing ovation amidst a grand fanfare, accompanied by former MCA vice-president Chua Jui Meng, his wife Honey Hum, and two MCA veterans (one a retired senator, the other a former MP). A few days earlier rumors that Chua Jui Meng was about to defect and join PKR had spread throughout the blogosphere and were picked up by the mainstream media.

The forum opened with a hard-hitting, eloquent and heartfelt speech by PKR politiburo member and information chief for Selangor, Dr Tan Yee Kew, who pressed home the point that Umno/BN had disqualified itself as the government of the day because it had grown too "arrogant, corrupt and violent." Later, PKR vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah added two more adjectives to Dr Tan's description of the Barisan Nasional - devious and manipulative.

PKR treasurer William Leong presented a brief update on the colossal Port Klang Free Zone scandal which could ultimately cost the rakyat RM12.5 billion. It is abundantly clear that gross abuse of power, barefaced greed and opportunism on the part of MCA and Umno politicians and their political appointees were behind this monumental scam. And yet, the infamous Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency has been outstandingly inert in its ongoing investigation into one of the most disgraceful and outrageous examples of catastrophic mismanagement in Malaysian history, involving two former transport ministers and a current cabinet minister.

Rally for Teoh Beng Hock at Kelana Jaya Stadium, 9 July 2009 (Malaysiakini)

Sivarasa Rasiah's insider's overview of Umno's sodomy conspiracy against Anwar was riveting, to say the least. The entire scenario is best described as tragicomic: tragic in view of the depths to which some have sunk to neutralize the serious political threat Anwar poses to their traditional hegemony; comic in that these malicious and vile personalities have so little going for them they have to sink even deeper into the quicksand of absolute despicability by hurling badly aimed (and mostly imaginary) loose sphincters at Anwar Ibrahim.

Chua Jui Meng's defection from the MCA and his decision to join PKR is certainly a shot in the arm for Pakatan Rakyat. Of all the MCA cabinet ministers, Chua's track record is relatively unblemished and he is widely admired for his articulateness, his intelligence, and his debonair personality.

Indeed, looking at Anwar and Chua sitting next to each other on stage, I was struck by the fact that they not only bear a physical resemblance but might well be, as Chua himself declared in his speech, "kindred spirits." Chua admitted that in all his years as an MCA member he had never felt so welcome or enjoyed such resounding applause from the floor.

One of the two MCA veterans who arrived with Chua, retired senator David Yeoh, went up to the podium and declared that at the ripe old age of 72, his decision to quit MCA's monoethnic politics and lend the full weight of his long experience to PKR's multiracial political platform has made him feel like a 27-year-old.

It's inevitable that these MCA veterans' well-timed defections will trigger a steady migration of Chinese voters into the ranks of PKR and greatly reinforce the party's claim to being the first truly multiracial, multicultural political party. Chua disclosed that having been an MCA stalwart for so many decades it wasn't at all easy for him to change horses in midstream. In fact he had been wavering till a few days ago... when news of Teoh Beng Hock's shocking and totally unwarranted death while undergoing MACC interrogation made him realize his options were clear and simple: go down with Umno/BN's rapidly sinking ship or help build a new Pakatan Rakyat vessel with a fresh vision of justice and freedom, an honorable and seasoned captain at the helm, and a far more competent crew.

Chua Jui Meng's dramatic entry into PKR occurs a little more than a month after Zaid Ibrahim announced his induction into the top echelons of PKR. These are politicians who bring their vast experience and sound reputations into PKR at a time when party supremo Anwar Ibrahim is faced with having to go through the same nightmare sodomy trial twice - both times engineered by the same malevolent forces of violent resistance to genuine reform.

All I can say is this: each and every one of the speakers at the PKR forum inspired and uplifted the audience with their passion, their lucid sense of human decency, and their dedication to democratic ideals. Indeed, so engaging and lively was the entire forum that I sat right through the proceedings from start to finish without even once being tempted to walk out for a pee or nicotine break. I can't imagine this extraordinary level of excitement or passion at any Umno/BN event.

Anwar himself was in top form and held the crowd mesmerized for nearly 30 minutes. The spontaneous outpouring of admiration, respect and love for this charismatic orator was a palpable sensation. As a motivational speaker driven by a lifelong missionary zeal on behalf of social justice and comprehensive political reform, nobody in Malaysia can touch Anwar Ibrahim.

There is no other prime ministerial candidate in sight at this juncture more deserving and more qualified than Anwar Ibrahim to lead Malaysia out of the moral quagmire that has retarded our mental and spiritual evolution for decades.

Yes, Malaysia, it's time for REFORM-AS-1 all the way!