By Mariam Mokhtar | Malaysiakini
According to one Sabahan, there is so much crime in Sabah that squatter houses, too, have grilles on the doors and windows, and that these cost more than the houses themselves.
For four decades, ordinary Sahabans have been angered by illegal immigration and the social and economic problems associated with it, such as a shortage of housing, a lack of employment and educational opportunities, high levels of crime and massive overcrowding.
Despite the limited terms of reference of the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) ordered by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, the RCI has revealed disturbing aspects of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s bid to remain in power. Soon, the RCI will be overshadowed by the side-show that Mahathir may have helped arrange.
The star-performer is the self-styled motivational guru Sharifah Zohra Jabeen Syed Shah Miskin (right). One wonders if Zohra has replaced the virgin queen, Ummi Hafilda Ali, who used to come to Mahathir’s aid and helped distract the rakyat with golden showers and salacious revelations.
There was once a time when the government would detain reporters and send them to Kamunting, ostensibly for their own safety. Zohra was denied this privilege because Najib has abolished the ISA. Last week, Zohra bowed to overwhelming pressure and heeded police advice to cancel her seminar on ‘How to Make Your First Million’.
I can give you the gist of the RM200 seminar. It is an open secret that the first million is easy to make; join Umno, then claw your way to the top by backstabbing and badmouthing everyone who stands in your way.
There are tell-tale signs that that you have “made it” and joined the Umno elite. In the election canvassing that takes place every five years, Umno delivers bags of rice to the masses, but the Umno elite receive Birkin bags.
Households that qualify are given a one-off payment of RM500 (and possibly another RM500 if the situation demands it) but the elite get several million ringgit in hard cash, stuffed in suitcases.
The poor may get a discount on their smartphones, but the elite are given the contracts to sell the phones.
The rakyat may be given tins of powdered milk as freebies during canvassing, but elite members are given millions of ringgit to buy a few cows and many luxury condominiums.
Zohra has not much in humility
A video of the shameful conduct of Zohra emerged a month after the incident. Despite the public opprobrium which she received, Zohra showed everyone that she is miskin by name and miskin (poor) by nature.
She lacks the intellect to reflect on her poor behaviour. She did not have much in the way of humility. She displayed an inferior understanding of people’s feelings and she was a poor communicator.
Instead of eating the humble pie, she has become more arrogant and haughty. Instead of acknowledging that she was tactless and rude, Zohra issued a statement from her hiding place, in which she declined to apologise but “forgave” KS Bawani, the student who suffered Zohra’s acid tongue.
This incident should have been a temporary frenzy and yes, we are angry because it is obvious that Zohra’s behaviour is unacceptable. Some Umno leaders and members of the BN coalition have distanced themselves from her, but it appears that Zohra is determined to prolong this crisis into a full blown affair.
The reason must be to take our attention away from Mahathir’s alleged crimes in the Sabah votes for citizenship fiasco.
Just a few months ago, Najib outlined the terms of reference for the Sabah RCI. Many have criticised the RCI for its limited scope and because its findings will not be revealed before GE13.
If the RCI proves that Umno won elections by fraud and cheating, it brings into doubt the legitimacy of this and previous Umno/BN governments. By cheating, Umno has disenfranchised the people of Malaysia and forced us to wait until GE13 to gain our choice of ruling party.
Proof of fraud and cheating will confirm that Umno/BN should not be the current government. Will the RCI be another whitewash or will its members seek to save their own skins, by leaving the sinking Umno ship?
As the extent of Mahathir’s Project IC is slowly being revealed, the importance of this RCI is increasing.
Mahathir won’t go without a fight
Just as Mahathir thought he had undermined Najib, his hopes were damned. So he tried to deflect some of the rakyat’s abhorrence of Project IC, by tarnishing the name of Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Father of Independence.
Will the RCI bring about the fall of Mahathir? No. He may have cut a pathetic figure recently but he will not go without a fight. Although the rakyat have a strong case against him, Mahathir has too many people in his pockets. They owe their success to him and he will call in his favours.
The rakyat is leading the opposition fight to topple the Mahathir regime, but their wish will not be fulfilled, just yet.
Both Najib and Mahathir are locked in a deadly battle. Najib cannot bring about Mahathir’s fall, because to do so would bring the fight right to his front door. He, like Mahathir, has a dirty past. The best Najib can do is to hold out for a few more months.
If Najib were to destroy Mahathir now, it would start a media frenzy, which would eclipse the one Zohra is facing today.
Zohra’s gaffe has caused quite a stir. She tried to put on a brave face and refused to apologise, thus avoiding an admission of guilt. Ironically, her intransigence has damaged Umno by rallying the rakyat to vote for the opposition.
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.