What politicians say and what they mean

Stage-managed fine words of politicians aside, what is it that they are really trying to tell us? 

Mariam Mokhtar, Free Malaysia Today 

The fine words of our politicians and their close buddies are carefully stage-managed by public relations companies and professional speech-writers. Behind these fine words, what are they really trying to tell us?

Reports of police brutality against protesters and attacks on newsmen surfaced after the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28. The peaceful sit-down protest had started off in a carnival-like atmosphere but ended up in chaos when police fired tear-gas canisters and deployed water cannons.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said that a panel to investigate the events leading to the violence of Bersih 3.0 had been selected. Before the panel had met for the first time, criticisms about the selection process had already begun. There has been condemnation over the choice of former IGP, Hanif Omar, a person who is no stranger to controversy, as panel chairman.

What Hishamuddin said: “The main objective of this panel is to investigate the truth behind the riots that occurred during the Bersih 3.0 demonstrations.”

What he meant: We wouldn’t dare have free and fair elections because we know BN would never win. Our policy of gerrymandering is enough to secure a victory.

What Hishammuddin said: “It is my hope that the panel would be able to reveal the true events of what happened during the rally.”

What he meant: With Hanif as the panel chairman, it would be easy to exploit the theory of the opposition trying to topple the government.

Tengku Adnan’s disturbing comments

A seven-member international group who were invited to observe the rally had interviewed several people including Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, whose comments they found especially disturbing.

What Tengku Adnan said: “Are our people (Malaysians) mature for freedom?”

What he meant: If we gave the rakyat a first class education, they will start to ask questions. Right now, they are like putty in our hands.

Tengku Adnan was also asked to comment on the political development in Indonesia.

What Tengku Adnan said: “One of the problems with Indonesia is that there is too much freedom.”

What he meant: Why give the rakyat an inch, when they’ll take a mile? Moreover, Indonesia is only good for cheap labour.

‘Corrupted by Mahathir’

Meanwhile, Hanif has quashed all criticism of his appointment as the head of the independent panel to probe the police violence.

What Hanif said: “They can say whatever they like. I mean… what is important is what you are and how you approach things.”

What he meant: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me. Don’t you know who I am?

What Hanif said (prior to receiving his official letter of appointment): “I have not received any official confirmation yet. I’ve seen the news on Bernama but there’s no letter yet. So I can’t say much until I am sure as I cannot be pre-empting everything”.

What he meant: What is there to say apart from that it’s already been decided? Just you wait. I’ll show you what I mean.

Last week, Hanif said that he had seen videos of the Bersih 3.0 rally and had recognised pro-communist individuals, from the 1970s demonstrations, at the march.

What Hanif said: “I recognise from the photos and broadcast images (taken from the rally), the pro-communist people who were involved in the 1970s demonstrations”.

What he meant: As the longest-serving former IGP, who dares question my ability to recognise a face after 40 years? I may need reading glasses, my vision is blurred and my memory is poor, but it is amazing how no one dares question people who were once in uniform.

What Hanif said: “The tactics of using provocateurs to cause the demonstrators to clash with police and to bring children along in the hope they would get injured were tactics learnt from past pro-communist demonstrations.”

What he meant: If I were still in uniform, I would put the whole lot of you, children included, in prison. Look for reds under your beds. The ISA should not have been repealed.

A few years ago, Hanif jumped to the defence of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who denied that as PM he had ordered the mass detention of political dissidents under Ops Lalang in 1987. He claimed that Mahathir was opposed to the arrests.

What Hanif said: “You can’t blame him. He is right. As a matter of fact, it was entirely the police’s decision. It was not his (Mahathir’s) decision. Mahathir was actually opposed to it… He was against Ops Lalang.”

What he meant: I’m just his lap dog. When he shouts, I jump.

At the time, Hanif also denied that Ops Lalang was politically motivated or that the police were driven by political pressure.

What Hanif said: “The police force do not go by political persuasion”.

What he meant: We are just like any other public institution; the judiciary, the civil service, the MACC. What’s new? We have all been corrupted by Mahathir.