Congratulations. You’re about to prevent hundreds of hours of your life from going down the rat hole between now and Election Day.It’s no mystery why we pay attention to campaign news. We’re wired to love stories. Suspense, surprise, risk, noise, combat: the thrill of a pumping narrative literally turns us on. It causes our brains to squirt the same feel-good neurotransmitter implicated in addictions to sex, drugs, gambling, food and checking our e-mail twice a minute.No wonder media outlets maximize political drama. It holds audiences, and that’s great for the bottom line. But there is zero civic virtue in paying attention to campaign coverage. The likelihood that a news story, blog, rant or shouting match will change someone’s mind about health care reform, bank regulation, marginal tax rates, the deficit or any other campaign issue is nil. There may be sober speeches and position papers out there, but airtime goes to mayhem. Keeping up with the punching and counter-punching may feel like being informed, but it’s more like being entertained. So unless you’re hopelessly hooked on inane speculation and manufactured melodrama, you are now free to move about the cabin.
Several arm chair critics, who wouldn’t bat an eyelid paying their way through to get their work done illegally, but still hold forth on how corrupt we are as long that lecture is applicable to others, have started dismissing the anti-corruption movement as dead. For them, the novelty aspect of organising walks around their localities with candle lights or a family outing where they can give bites to the marauding TV channels is now over. Till they can find another topic that satiates their hunger for reality TV, it is take-it-easy policy. Corruption has been tackled.
True, the movements, two of them, one led by Anna Hazare and the other, led by Baba Ramdev, are beset with contradictions. They are led by individuals who are inherently different, so this was inevitable, in a way. And exploiting these differences and the attitude of the hoi-polloi who swore by the movement till just a few months ago, is the dirty-tricks department whose sole aim is for the status quo on corruption to remain.
However, as much as the doomsayers predict or wish, the truth is not what is being projected. If one were to genuinely gauge the pulse of the masses, the impatience against corruption in all places, especially at the top, is only growing. As I have often argued in the past, it is the issue of corruption that is important, NOT the individuals behind the movement. Sure, there are leaders to give direction but ultimately it is the people who make or break a movement and despite every attempt by the mighty and powerful, contrary to what is being spread, the common man is not giving up. At least not yet!
Of course, like in any movement, there are fence sitters who get swayed by what the dirty-tricks department projects. It is for them to see through the shenanigans, for ultimately, believing them is only playing into their hands. It is at times like these that those who genuinely want to see this nation free of the curse of corruption have to be even more resolute.
I am not saying all is hunky dory with the movement. As I said, they are beset with contradictions and I would be the first one to admit that there are individuals involved in the movement, at fairly active level, who have a history that they can’t be too proud of. I personally know of instances of some of these people misusing their position and have even shared it with those who have the good of the movement at heart. But come on, even this is par for the course in any people’s movement. And if these people have now reformed and actually bring their considerable strengths to the table now, it helps, not hinder the movement.
But there are certain complete no nos as far as the movement is concerned. How a movement or any action is perceived by the masses is extremely important in any nation. This perception game can make or break a movement. It is in this context that the anti-social elements and hoodlums need to be given the boot. These clearly are not those who are with the cause. Their sole aim is to exploit the situation to indulge in their unlawful activities. These could include looting and general stuff that is unlawful and leaves a poor taste in the mouth and weakens the cause. It is even possible these hoodlums are paid for by those who want the movement to die. Thankfully, Ana Hazare himself has criticised these actions in no uncertain terms and well-wishers should also ensure such people are kept away. It is not easy though. For, how do you control individuals or groups whose avowed purpose/intention is to cause trouble, even violence, especially when those who have to prevent its happening are sane, non-violent types? It is ultimately a law and order issue. The fence sitters, therefore, must understand that hoodlums and anti-social elements are not for the cause but are set up to derail the movement.
Also, I was rather amused that the government reacted to the demand that the Lokpal bill be passed immediately demand with a caustic: Such things don’t happen in four days. Absolutely, such things don’t happen so quickly. But dear worthies, the issue has been with you for years, and you have even given repeated assurances that it is being done before backing off.
Find it strange that after all this, they still have the gumption to accuse those who are hounded day in and day out by the powerful state machinery in one way or the other. But that too is par for the course. Which fight for any cause has been between equals?
PKR Strategy Director has been charged in the Shah Alam sessions court this morning for allegedly breaching the Banking and Financial Institution Act when he exposed some of the worst abuses by National Feedlot Corporation (NFC).
Rafizi has led the charge to expose a long list of wrong-doings by the company and its directors, who are the husband and children of Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil, the recently resigned Minister of Women, Family and Community Development. Datuk Seri Shahrizat is still the Chief of UMNO’s Women’s Wing.
Despite the overwhelming evidence exposed to date, only Datuk Seri Shahrizat’s husband, Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh has been brought to court, and even then only on 2 key charges – for misappropriating RM40 million of NFC’s money, and for acquiring 2 units of luxury condominium in One Menerung, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur for RM13.5 million.
This is despite the fact that based on NFC’s last audited accounts, more than RM110 million has been misappropriated by the directors to set up a global chain of companies under their individual names. In addition, Rafizi has also exposed the fact that Datuk Seri Shahrizat’s family has acquired 3 luxury condominiums in Singapore worth some RM45 million, as well as a villa in Kazakhstan.
However, none of these assets have been frozen by the Malaysian authorities and none of the other directors have been charged despite holding various key positions in NFC, including the son, Izran Salleh who is the Chief Executive Officer of NFC.
Instead of pursuing the culprits who have abused the RM250 million government soft loan extended to NFC, the Government has chosen to exact revenge on the whistle-blower Rafizi Ramli who play the integral role in uncovering the lid on the litany of gross abuses by Shahrizat’s family.
The act by the Malaysian authorities marks a serious blow to the purported anti-corruption campaign launched by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself, under the Anti-Corruption National Key Result Area (NKRA) in the Government Transformation Programme (GTP). The spirit of the Whistleblower Act which was passed in December 2010 to encourage more to expose corrupt activities is clearly undermined with the persecution of Rafizi.
Only a week ago under the GTP2.0 Open Day, only 7 persons have sought protection under the Whistleblower Act today after more than 18 months, clearly pointing towards a complete lack of confidence in the Barisan Nasional government. Rafizi’s persecution will mark the death knell for the Act as no whistleblower will have any trust in the system to protect their interest.
The complete lack of urgency to bring criminal charges against Datuk Seri Shahrizat’s family members, and the speed at which Rafizi is being charged for blowing the lid on the scandal proves that Datuk Seri Najib has no qualms in protecting the powerful in Barisan Nasional, and quashing his political enemies. Such blatant abuse of power will only confirm in the eyes of the world that Najib’s reform agenda is pure hogwash.
We in the DAP will stand firm and together with Rafizi to ensure that truth and justice will prevail. Our leaders may have been detained without trial, sent to jail on trumped up charges and sued for defamation but we are committed to remain steadfast to our principles and will continue to fearlessly expose all misdeeds and wrongdoings committed by the BN leaders, their associates and cronies.
Here’s all you need to know about polls: With margins of error of plus-or-minus three-to-four points, the breathlessly reported gaps between candidates will be illusory. They’re ratings bait. One day one poll will say Obama or Romney has opened a shocking lead in Ohio or Florida; another day, another poll will say the reverse. In most cases, add three to one candidate’s numbers and subtract three from the other, and it’s a dead heat. You already know that polls are just snapshots, and that trends are what matter. Now you also know what the trends will say: It’s going to be a nail-biter. So it’s OK to unplug, take a walk and get some fresh air.The conventional wisdom is that whatever story is dominating today’s news cycle — a gaffe, a lie, a trip, a Trump — will be forgotten by tomorrow. It is universally acknowledged that only three things matter between now and Election Day: Romney’s choice of a vice president, the acceptance speeches and the debates. But there are no cliffhangers about how any of those stories will play out.