Take a look at the scores of international headlines that have greeted the appointment of Ismail Sabri. Again and again the phrases ‘scandal-tarnished’, ‘scandal-hit’, ‘scandal-plagued’, ‘graft tainted’, ‘scandal-mired’, ‘old guard’, ‘old baggage’ have reverberated around the world to correctly describe the ‘new’ administration just appointed by the Agong:
“Scandal-plagued party reclaims Malaysian Leadership” [Washington Newsday, France 24, Taipei Times]; “Malaysia’s scandal-tarnished UMNO poised to re-take PM’s Office” / “Ismail Sabri named Malaysia PM, putting scandal hit party on top” [Nikkei]; “Malaysia’s new prime minister brings graft-tainted party back to power” [Reuters]; “.. a scandal-mired party that previously governed for six decades reclaimed the leadership it lost in 2018’s landmark election” [Guardian]; “Old Guard back to power” [Time]; “Malaysia’s New Leader Carries Old Baggage” [Bloomberg] …. and much more of the same.
No matter the sanctimonious self-congratulations of UMNO crooks waiting to receive their rewards in terms of dropped charges and lucrative contracts, nor the pious claims of those corrupted defectors who won their seats in the name of reform only to barter them for personal gain, all the world knows what is going on.
The only surprise is that the perpetrators seem to believe that they can carry on just as before even though the world has found them out. These elderly operators appear to feel confident that they only need to loot what’s left and mortgage the future and, as in their youth, they will be able to bribe their way to eternal continuance in office.
Yet, the signs of implosion are everywhere to see. PN is not BN, not just because trousers/sarongs are fallen down. This coalition simply does not have the numbers and it doesn’t have the unity that sustained the previous party. Nor is there the same free flowing wealth that came from oil and resource destruction over previous years.
Crucial to PN’s numbers also are a bunch of primitive-minded religious extremists from the PAS Islamic Party, whom the original UMNO/BN alliance rightly treated as opponents of the most dangerous kind. Even Saudi Arabia has banned their leadership’s affiliate as a terror organisation. The PAS present leader Hadi Awang has a history of leading violent insurrection.
This week Hadi and his son have moved swiftly to embellish Malaysia’s already plummeting notoriety by first welcoming the Taliban military take over of Afghanistan as a liberation and then in the past hours singing the praises of that organisation.
Apparently the PAS leader has special knowledge of the Afghan terror group that enables him to assure the world that there is no longer anything to be concerned about regarding its conduct towards those who do not share their medieval viewpoints or who happen not to be men.
In an editorial today he has taken western media to task for ‘amplifying the negative aspects’ of the tribal fighters (for example their torture and beheading of random civilians and brutal oppression of women) and for failing to praise them for having ‘changed’.
“..latest developments show they are wiser in taking on their foes and have held negotiations with US diplomats. So much so that they finally succeeded in taking over Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, peacefully…. The chaos at the Kabul airport was made up of groups who were afraid because they had served the old regime, under the shadows of the United States. They wanted to flee and were anxious (bersikap gelabah), even though the Taliban had already issued a mass pardon” [Hadi, quoted in Malaysiakini]
This positioning follows an ecstatic welcome to the Taliban pronounced by his own politician son last week, a move that saw him bounced off Google and nearly lose his Twitter account. However, both these men and their following of tinted Mercedes-chauffeured clerics remain integral to UMNO’s new PN 2.0 government which relies on their numbers.
As a result, Malaysia is now positioning itself in the world as not only extremely corrupt, but potentially as an extremist refuge.
Should any of the above be alarming to potential investors in the Palm Oil Republic of Malaysia (the sort of investor that post-2018 had been encouraged by the sight of an emerging democracy responding to a mature electorate and implementing the rule of law) the growing concern about the state of the judiciary will compound the situation.
There have been eye-brows raised over past months as a slew of kleptocrat charges have been dropped and suspended against PN’s friends and allies (most markedly against Musa Aman in Sabah and Najib’s son).
Disconcerting boasts have also been reported (by the Chief Justice herself) relating to alleged manipulations of the law – sustaining a strong perception amongst the population that the independence of the judiciary can be compromised in Malaysia.
And now, Wham! In his outgoing address, following his ousting by his coalition partners from UMNO, ex-PM Mahiaddin has confirmed the perception by announcing that his removal owed to his refusal to interfere with the judicial process to let UMNO crooks off the charges they face in court.
In short, he has provided confirmation that if leading politicians wish to interfere in judicial matters in Malaysia they clearly think they can…. and that to hang on to power this is what Ismail Sabri has agreed to do.
That said, the Bersatu leader has agreed nonetheless to keep his party within the PN 2.0 coalition on the grounds that, whilst he doesn’t think it is good optics for them to be made into ministers, he is willing to support a regime packed full of such crooks and thieves all serving their own agendas!
There are others who ought not to be ministers agree PN 2.0’s leading lights. No-one from the 40% minority population of the country (non-Malay Muslims) should be ministers either!
PN 2.0, despite its dependency on bought-over defectors like Ali Biju, Willie Mongan and Larry Sng from Sarawak, is an openly racist collective whose main point of unity is prejudice towards minorities.
Thus, PAS youth has today announced that the party would doggedly reject the appointment of a deputy prime minister from Sarawak’s GPS party, which is the only significant non-Malay constituent in the PN coalition (a crucial 18 seats mind you).
The statement expands on this belief to say Sarawak would be better run by Malay Muslims rather than natives of that state (i.e. GPS) and that certainly Malaysia should not accept federal ministers from Sarawak – as they would drag back the development of the country!
PAS, who coincidentally represent the most backward areas in West Malaysia economically, appear unaware that their country’s economic progress has largely been achieved off the back of resources grabbed from Sarawak and that GPS are part of the BN/PN coalition purely in their capacity as West Malaysia’s catspaws and place-men to facilitate that plunder.
Meanwhile, PAS’s preferred choice for DPM is instead announced to be the PKR grand defector, Azmin Ali. Azmin is indeed a long-term collaborator with PAS behind the scenes, yet he is also a man who has been compromised by the most excruciating allegations of ‘deviance’ in the eyes of their own religion, as evidenced by the videos that have circulated onto just about every smart phone in the land.
Azmin of course denies the accusations. However, many prefer to believe the conclusions of their own eyes and the testimony of the other person in the affair, which both suggest the contrary. It was the previous PH government that rightly elected not to press this personal matter any further, but there is not the slightest chance that if PAS or the PN coalition obtained such material against a political enemy themselves they would not seek to drive him into jail.
Nonetheless, these priest politicians, full of their righteous zeal, say they would applaud the appointment of Azmin (who once traded as an anti-PAS reformer) rather than any of their ‘inferior’ allies from GPS Sarawak.
Who would do business with such a leadership? How can such a leadership remain stable and secure? How can the GPS party of Sarawak persuade their electorate to accept this partnership deal with PAS who so openly support double-standards, discrimination and disparagement against their own people in the upcoming state elections? One can only wonder.
The weaknesses of this fractious, corrupted and incompetent regime were predicted at the time of the original coup against the elected, stable and reforming government back in 2020. For nearly two years these weaknesses have been on display, wreaking the devastating effects of poor governance and corrupt decision-making on the population.
As the thieves fell out there was hope that decency and the elected government could be restored. However, in the end the ‘scandal-torn’ UMNO has predictably agreed to pay everyone’s price for another bite of the cherry through PN 2.0.
It has made a bad situation worse and the eventual outcome is assured, given the growing popular disapproval throughout Malaysia and well beyond.