By Dean Johns
When I read a couple of weeks ago of Najib Abdul Razak’s call at the Umno general assembly for Barisan Nasional to defend Putrajaya “at all costs”, if necessary with their “crushed bodies” and even their lives, my immediate reaction was that he, along with his colleagues, supporters and cronies should be allowed, indeed compelled, to stay there.
In fact Putrajaya should by rights be turned into a jail, and the entire Umno/BN regime, together with its henchpersons in the police, judiciary, civil services, business and the media detained there until they’ve all served adequate sentences for their crimes against Malaysia and returned the billions of ringgit they’ve stolen from the Malaysian rakyat.
Let’s face it, no self-respecting non-Umno/BN government would be willing to occupy such a monstrously misbegotten Middle-Eastern-style monument to Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s megalomania as Putrajaya so evidently is. And compared with the massive quantities of capital already squandered on the place, the cost of escape-proofing it with some razor wire, guard towers and such would be very small change indeed.
Admittedly it could be quite expensive to accommodate the entire Umno/BN gang in Putrajail.
But surely no more so than the RM9.4 million per year or RM26,000 per day currently paid in rent and maintenance to Putrajaya Holdings for the official residences of Prime Minister Najib and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, let alone the RM65 billion allegedly already allocated for a ‘spruce-up’ of Najib’s official residence over the next two years.
In fact the Putrajail concept would save the nation an absolute fortune. Umno/BN high-flyers would no longer be at liberty to squander astronomical sums on luxury international travel for themselves and their entourages. Untold billions would no longer be wasted on symbols of Umno/BN self-aggrandisement, like Najib’s proposed Warisan Merdeka.
And speaking of tall stories, there would no longer be countless millions misspent on propaganda designed to sell fantasies like 1Malaysia and the fiction that the Umno/BN government has the well-being of the Malaysian people at heart.
Of course there are bound to be critics of my Putrajaya/Putrajail proposal. Civil libertarians, for example, will rightly attack me for appearing to advocate the detention of Najib and his accomplices without charge or trial, just as the Umno/BN regime has long misused the Internal Security Act to incarcerate its critics and opponents in Kamunting.
But no, such an Umno/BN-style act of injustice isn’t what I’m suggesting at all. All the inmates of Putrajail should be initially held there perfectly legitimately on remand, pending proper investigation of their suspected offences and the bringing of appropriate charges. And in the interim of course they would be free to apply for bail, as long as they could afford it.
The amount of their unexplained incomes and assets, less a small amount for basic living expenses would seem to me a pretty fair sum, to be forfeited to the nation’s coffers if they failed to appear for their trials.
Which brings me to another objection I foresee from lawyers reading this, on the grounds that there won’t be enough courts in Malaysia to hear such an avalanche of cases, what with all the BN/Umno- owned judges either languishing in Putrajail or suspended from their duties because they’re only out on bail.
But surely not all Malaysian lawyers are as bent as those exposed by judicial appointments or royal commissions, and lots of straight ones would be happy to sign up as prosecutors or serve on the bench just for a salary, or even for the sheer joy of the job.
But having satisfactorily, I hope, dispelled all reservations as to the rectitude of the Putrajailing of Umno/BN, and doubts as to the availability of enough jurists to handle their cases, I have to concede that there is one further negative point that critics of the concept could be justified in raising; the possibility of over-crowding.
Multitude of suspects
To the casual observer contemporary Putrajaya might seem roomy enough, indeed a scandalous waste of too much space. But consider the multitude of suspects and eventual convicts that it’s going to have to accommodate as soon as it turns into Putrajail.
There’s no way I’m going to be able to mention more than a fraction of their number here, but let me list just a sample. The first group than springs to mind is everyone involved in the first and now the second conspiracy to convict Anwar Ibrahim of sodomy.
When you compute the numbers of suspects in these cases, from the false accusers and perjured witnesses through the corrupt investigators, prosecutors and judges to the political masterminds, that’s quite a few for a start.
There are probably as many again, if not more, criminally implicated in the mystery surrounding the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder, from those who ordered the killing from on high all the way down to whoever erased the victim’s immigration records, plus all those who by virtue of being in the know are accessories either before or after the fact, or both.
Then, to further swell the number of candidates for Putrajail there are the hundreds or perhaps thousands of police who have been involved in almost every crime in the book. Countless execution- style killings in ‘shoot-outs’ and highly suspicious deaths of suspects in custody. Collusion with organized crime in the gambling, prostitution, drugs, loan-sharking and extortion rackets, and bribery at every level from the big-time to street-level stuff like traffic infringements.
And the numbers really start to soar when we get to the ‘commission’ agents, ‘contractors’, kickback artists, fraudsters, embezzlers and outright thieves who have looted hundreds of billions from Malaysia’s treasury and natural resources in a list of scandals so long it’s tiresome to trot them all out again.
Maminco, Bank Bumiputra, Perwaja Steel, PKFZ, Matrade, APs, Valuecap, Bank Islam, Wang Ehsan, Perimeker, IMT Defence, the Crooked Bridge, MAS, the Bakun Dam and the wholesale looting of Petronas, timber concessions, land and shares. The list goes on and on and on, and the number of suspects involved soars into the tens if not hundreds of thousands.
No wonder that those responsible for this catalogue of crime, the Umnoputras and their confederates, are so determined to cling onto Putrajaya “at all costs.” But, as usual, they actually mean at all costs to the Malaysian people. Which is why throwing them out of government at the next general election, but at all costs continuing to keep them in Putrajaya/Putrajail, would be such a Putrajolly idea. – Mkini
DEAN JOHNS, after many years in Asia, currently lives with his Malaysian-born wife and daughter in Sydney, where he mentors creative writing groups. Already published in Kuala Lumpur is a third book of his columns for Malaysiakini, following earlier collections ‘Mad about Malaysia’ and ‘Even Madder about Malaysia’.