By Mariam Mokhtar
Malaysian politics is like watching tennis. Instead of playing an active role, the rakyat only lends support as spectators. They watch the two key players on the centre court. Najib Abdul Razak, the reigning champion, struggling with his serves. His opponent, the former champion, Mahathir Mohamad, and the undisputed winner of five general elections, who is attempting a comeback.
Like two tennis players hitting the ball, they trade insults and insinuations. The audience watches, gripped by the action. The bad boy of tennis, loudmouthed and temperamental, delivers his strokes at a furious pace. Why is Mahathir the only man allowed to criticise the government, without censure? Why are the rest of us hauled to jail and charged with sedition?
The rakyat have tried to highlight corruption and injustice for at least 30 years, the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder for eight years and the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) since 2012, but Mahathir showed interest within the past few months. So, what finally motivated him?
The art of skewering politicians, in moderate Muslim Malaysia, is defined by two words, ‘Not Allowed!’, and yet satire and black humour is alive and well in conservative Muslim countries. Cartoonists, writers and producers, in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Palestine poke fun at the state and its corrupt, hypocritical leaders.
Mahathir may no longer be the head of state, but has assumed his new role as the voice of the rakyat. The rakyat who have been screaming for recognition of its troubles, are now relegated to the back row. No one really cares or bothers about the rakyat.
Najib may have said that his government’s actions could be scrutinised; even he dared not mention the most important proviso, which was not to touch his wife, the self-styled First Lady of Malaysia (Flom) Rosmah Mansor.
Anyone who dares to mention the Flom is given one of two treatments. They are sued, or they are paid a visit by Najib’s own ‘Enforcer’, the inspector-general of police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar. Continue reading