Sunday 2 August 2009

The Sunday after the ISA Saturday...

I do not envy Najib his job as PM. In fact with all things considered my sympathies are with him…at least in the aftermath of the demonstrations on Saturday. 

It is early Sunday morning - the day after demonstrations demanding the abolishment of the Internal Security Act (ISA). The commercial center of KL was again brought to a standstill by the demonstrators. This is a major headache for Najib. It is one thing to do a take over of Perak when the people directly affected are just a handful of Politicians from the oppositions but when thousands upon thousands of people are held up in traffic jams for hours on end and business people lose revenue the demonstrations can only be bad news for the PM. 

And everything was happening in full view of the local and international media. What is he to do now? Even as he sits down to breakfast he is already in discussion with Rosmah about what the day will hold for him…but he is more guarded in his discussions with her and does not invite her comments on the happenings on Saturday – a hard thing to do as Rosmah is an equal opportunity sort of a wife in putting across her two cents worth on matters of national interest (with emphasis on the interest part ! )

Now Najib, like Pak Lah is a pleasant sort of a chap. He smiles more often and more readily then his late father. He dislikes saying no to anybody and prefers to take the path of less resistance in facing any problems he might have. 

The first thing on his mind is to order the release of all those arrested over yesterday’s demonstration as soon as it was reasonably ‘expedient’ to do so – which could possibly mean within a few days to a few years – with a detour to Taiping or Sungai Buloh a distinct possibility.

Now his thoughts turn to what he has to do to diffuse the tense situation and get back to status quo. Much as he would have wanted to consult Mahathir on the situation he knows that to do so would simply be a sign of weakness on his part. He knows that he must now make decisions by himself. And he does. 

He decides that the ISA must be watered down drastically if not all together abolished. He puts into motion the mechanics of doing so. He informs cousin Hishammuddin first of this and together they plot what needs to be done to make it a reality in the not to distant future. Just like the abolishment of the 30% Bumiputra equity requirements for Malaysian Companies seeking Public Listing and the sweeping liberalization measure affecting the capital market and guidelines covering the acquisition of equity stakes mergers and takeovers, Najib knows that the ISA must go if HE is not to go at the next GE.

That done he makes arrangement to meet with a few of his trusted UMNO cronies at PWTC to discuss the happenings of yesterday and what was to come in the next few days. These discussions will strictly be focused on what they will need to announce for public consumption – or to be more exact for UMNO's ears – bearing in mind that at times UMNO members do not just use their ears to listen. Within minutes his car is ready to roll with motorcycles outriders and the UTK riding shotgun – they leave his house and heads towards PWTC – siren blaring…which reminds me of that Lat carton. An important VIP with motor cycle outriders, siren blaring…and they take a wrong turn and end up in a dead end…or something to that effect….and a quite smile crosses my face thinking of Najib in the same predicment. 

That my friend is just what I think could possible happen on the morning after the ISA demo…"could" being the operative word.

Now what are the realities? Nazri is the point guy – just like Bung Moktar the “Berdirilah kalau berani” Radin guy from Kinabatangan – that was the challenge he threw at Karpal Singh who was then ‘tak boleh berdiri because of an injury’ challenged. These two front up and take the brunt of any adverse reactions from things that UMNO has to say in order to convey the ‘business as usual’ façade. What NAzri has to say this time is that “the ISA will not be abolished”. That done he sits back and quite relish the publicity and bad press that his statement had generated – he has done his job. 

PDRM are patting themselves on the back for a job well done – and like Nazri they have done their job and contained the demonstrators effectively without too much force being used – though the usual ‘controlled brutality’ has to be unleashed on the crowd just so they know that PDRM will do the necessary when push comes to shove. It is never a good idea to allow the demonstrators to think that they can get away with anything ‘illegal’ – the interpretation of ‘illegal’ being the prerogative of PDRM.

The ‘Pro ISA’ sector - now knows that they should have listened to KJ in the first place. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that what they did was not only stupid but also will forever consigned them to the sector of what Forrest Gump terms as “Stupid is as stupid does”..or Don't judge "stupid" until you see stupid in action. You cannot delete what is not applicable…they are all applicable in this situation. He he he …..

Pakatan Rakyat will have reason to feel good. There were enough demonstrators on the streets so as to not embarrass the organizers. Hell in fact with the use of the right camera angles and clever auditing etc the final cut will show demonstrators in their thousand surging enthusiastically and fearlessly against the might of the FRU and PDRM. They can also show Police Brutality, the prevention of the rights of the people to demonstrate peacefully etc. It would have been better if more of them were arrested and the police were a bit more zealous in trying to control them – but with the police under orders to ‘behave’ – that was just not possible. Still that picture of the Police beating PAS lawmaker Hatta Ramli is worth a thousand words. Though you cannot really see him being beaten up by the Police I guess it would be reasonable to assume that PDRM did the we assume that Anwar did not beat himself up while under Police custody. But all in all a good days work was done.

At the end of the day what was achieved? Everybody made his or her point. Everybody went home (at least those not arrested) all pumped up - one sector happy that they have done their part to promote the right of the people to demonstrate in a free country and the other sector satisfied that they were able to contain and manage an illegal demonstration under very trying conditions. Methinks that in these situations the general public would have preferred to not have the traffic jams, the inconvenience of having to put up with not being able to go about their weekend ‘thing’ as they normally do and most important, they would have preferred to be able to go get their Nasi Lemak International in Kampong Baru, their Dim Sums their Chapatis and Roti Chanai for breakfast without all those road blocks and traffic jams getting in the way !!

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