‘Three blind mice’ to Washington went

By Terence Netto, Free Malaysia Today

“Make them the object of ridicule. Nothing succeeds like laughter where the masses are concerned,” offered M J Akbar, a renowned Indian journalist and communications expert while on a visit to Kuala Lumpur last week at the invitation of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Akbar, who is also an author, was sharing his insights with Pakatan Rakyat-aligned media practitioners. His audience had little difficulty agreeing with their erudite interlocutor that the deepest cuts in political debate are wrought by barbs leavened with humour.

Three decades ago the Conservatives in Britain, led by Margaret Thatcher, campaigned to victory in a general election against Labour by employing the pithy slogan: “Labour – it doesn’t work.”

Few political contests before and since have displayed the devastating wit and concision encapsulated by that bon mot.

Akbar’s listeners hardly needed prompting that the exertions of local powers-that-be in portraying themselves as worthy of merit can sometimes border on the absurd; they were just wondering where to locate the genius who can transmute the absurd into the evocatively fabulous.

Take the decision to send de facto law minister Nazri Aziz, former chief justice Abdul Hamid Mohamed, and Attorney General Gani Patail to Washington for a conference on the rule of law and transparent governance.