Prize catch or stinking fish?

By Mariam Mokhtar

Only an experienced and shrewd politician, like the odious former Umno vice-president Muhammad Muhammad Taib aka Mat Taib, can change his colours like a chameleon. When Mat Taib joined PAS last week, he was not showing contrition, but was merely trying to save his skin.

At his first public appearance on the opposition hustings, he failed to impress the wider public (and this columnist); he was patronising and sexist when he equated a lack of religious values with newsreaders not wearing the tudung and schoolgirls wearing skirts.

Mat Taib is in no position to preach about Islam or good governance. When he was the menteri besar of Selangor, he had broken the law and was caught with RM4 million in his suitcase in Australia – just small change to an Umno politician.

He has little respect for royalty and the institutions of marriage and syariah law. He eloped to Thailand with a Selangor princess, married her without her father’s consent nor his first wife’s permission.

People who have fallen from grace should be allowed to redeem themselves and be given a second chance in life, like the former Umno members who have successfully revived their political careers in the opposition.

NONEIt would be disingenuous to claim that PAS members are “opportunists” in parading Mat Taib as a prize catch. Isn’t Mat Taib (right in photo) the opportunist who has joined PAS? Did he observe the changing tide of public opinion and hope that when the crunch comes, he may escape the severest of punishments?

In Victorian times, travelling fairs had freak shows, like the bearded lady, the Siamese twins or the Elephant Man, to attract the public. Perhaps, PAS is exhibiting a modern version of this freak show.

Mat Taib can endear himself to the increasingly cynical public by earning our respect. He cannot expect to evade punishment when true justice is finally dispensed, but for now, he could reveal all that he knows about the corruption in Umno and in the government.

Can Mat Taib explain?

He could also explain how he, and other Umno politicians gained their vast wealth, whilst seemingly surviving on a civil servants’ salary. Will he return some of this stolen money to the rakyat? During the Cold War, spies who defected were milked for information and were never placed in positions of power or trust in their adopted homeland.

As someone who once belonged to the Umno inner circle and was privy to its internal workings, Mat Taib would have had access to highly controversial and confidential information.

NONEWhat can he tell us about Najib and his corruption? He can work his way down the list of politicians, including the ones in Sabah and Sarawak and provide the names of top civil servants, cronies and their companies, all of whom act for Umno.

He can expose the mechanisms by which Umno cheats the public and provide details about the people – like Altantuya Shaarriibuu – who were bumped off to protect certain individuals in high office.

If Mat Taib is sincere about helping the opposition, he must discard the yoke of Umno’s divisive techniques because his talk sounds like an Umno or MCA campaign, where religion is the main weapon used to divide Malaysians.

In one ceramah, he blamed the “Jews and white men” for tarnishing the image of Islam and for giving rise to the label, ‘militant Islam’. He has upset many by accusing Christians of killing more people, as compared to Muslims.

Mat Taib’s understanding of Islam can only be described as puerile, but his depth of historical knowledge is very shallow. He said that in the Second World War, Christian Germans were killing the French, whilst other European Christians were also killing each other. His quote of 50,000 Christian casualties in WWII is incorrect, especially as it is believed that around 60 million people had died.

Has Mat Taib heard of Hitler, the Nazi occupation of Europe and the reason nations went to war?

NONEFormer prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s judicious selection of the ignoramus Mat Taib as menteri besar was not without good reason. He was aware that the appointment of smart and able men would have serious consequences. He knew that efficient men may covet the throne, whereas dolts are easily sated with money and women.

Did Mat Taib litter his speech with Islamic ideals to ingratiate himself with the conservative Malays and the ulama? He claimed that PAS is the only enlightened party which could unite the Malays, and create an Islamic state.

Isn’t this an Umno tactic to scare the non-Malays into the arms of BN? Mat Taib’s stance has reignited fears of an Islamic state and the most contentious argument, which is the implementation of hudud law. Was he deliberately trying to scare the rakyat?

Apprehension about hudud

Malays are outraged by the corruption and the injustice in Malaysia, but they are more apprehensive about hudud. They have been told that PAS would implement hudud law, if the opposition were to come to power. Ironically, the same people have also been told that with the opposition in control, a non-Malay prime minister could also be installed.

The number of refugees trying to escape to the west or Australia from oppressive Muslim nations like Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan – some of which have adopted hudud law – are reportedly on the rise. Many of these places are lawless.

If hudud were to be implemented in Malaysia, then 99.99 percent of the Umno hierarchy and their family members would have their hands chopped off, whilst a fair number would be stoned to death for adultery.

NONEThe nation’s debt is already crippled by Najib’s handouts, like the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M), and his excessive spending. Will the nation’s finances bear the extra cost of taking care of these amputees under a welfare scheme, since they would have no means of driving a vehicle or getting employment?

All the protagonists in the hudud law argument have neglected to seek the opinion of the Malays. Why don’t we settle this uncertainty with a nationwide referendum? My unscientific survey amongst Malay friends and relatives, whose ages range from their teens to their eighties, has revealed that most Malays do not want hudud. The non-Malays have little to fear, but it will be the Muslim women who will fare worst of all. They cannot expect fair treatment under hudud.

So, is Mat Taib an Umno plant set to damage the chances of the opposition at GE13 – by harping on Islam – or is he a naive person who is playing to the Muslim crowd?

Former tainted Umno members who jump ship at the eleventh hour will invite criticism of their actions if they treat their PAS membership as a way to expunge their wrongdoings. Joining the opposition is not like entering a confessional to seek absolution for their sins. – Mkini


MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.

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