All Malaysians, and all us others who care for the well-being of Malaysia, are Maria Chin Abdullah these days, as she languishes in prison for the ‘crime’ of leading a rally urging clean, free and fair elections.
Clean, free and fair elections that, let us remind ourselves, are specifically required by the Malaysian constitution.
A document whose provisions have been so perverted over the endless decades of Umno/BN domination of the nation as to currently constitute something more like a copstitution.
Thus rendering Malaysia a police state in which the ruling putras or rather putrids can get away with any number of crimes they please, while regime opponents and critics can be penalised for lawfully and peacefully protesting against this appalling situation.
So that currently we not only see Maria Chin Abdullah serving 28 days’ solitary confinement without charge or conviction under the provisions of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak falsely stated was specifically for use against terrorists, not his political opponents, but also threats against citizens peacefully urging her release.
Inspector-general of police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar has warned that participants in candlelight vigils expressing sympathy for Maria and urging her release “should brace themselves for a crackdown”.
Continuing that he was “fed up of issuing warnings,” Khalid declared that “any assembly held needs to be done according to rules and regulations” before posing the rhetorical question “if we do not follow these rules and laws, what is the use of the laws then?”
This raises an issue that has greatly troubled me, not to mention the majority of Malaysians, for years - the fact that the police and other regime-complicit agencies routinely fail to uphold rules and laws against crimes of which their political masters are suspect, including theft, embezzlement, bribery, corruption, money-laundering and even murder.
Yet opposition figures can be accused, ‘investigated’, and with the help of allegedly regime-perverted courts of ‘justice’, convicted of crimes on fake charges and false evidence, as most notoriously in the two cases of sodomy alleged against Anwar Ibrahim.
And the same grotesquely inequitable application of rules and laws applies in this current persecution of Maria Chin Abdullah. In leading the Bersih rally she was urging reform of the incumbent Malaysian government, or more specifically for the cleaning-up of its filthy election-fixing illegalities and outright crimes; and not, as her arrest and detention under Sosma implies, advocating the overthrow of Malaysia’s system of government, either through terrorism or otherwise.
In fact she herself has been the victim of terrorism in the form of death threats and other forms of violence by the so-called ‘red-shirts’ and other groups of thugs and agitators allegedly in the pay of the Umno/BN regime.
Hands-off treatment of a far more dangerous adversary
In any case, IGP Khalid’s attempt to portray himself as some kind of good or, perish the thought, honest cop with his “if we do not follow these rules and laws, what is the use of the laws then?” question is totally given the lie by his and his political bosses’ hands-off treatment of a far more dangerous adversary than Maria Chin Abdullah.
Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, the man who more than anyone else was responsible for creating the mess that Malaysia is in today, has not only been unrelenting in urging Najib Abdul Razak to go, but has also taken pains show his public support of Bersih, even to wearing the yellow T-shirt.
But Najib and the gang including their IGP haven’t had the guts to lay so much as a finger on him, as making a martyr out of Mahathir with the many Umno/BN members who still unaccountably remain admirers of the old man would most certainly prove a bad move.
So Mahathir, like other deposed Umno/BN bigwigs and now enemies of Najib if not his entire regime like Muhyiddin Yassin, remains untouchable whatever he says and does, while Maria Chin Abdullah takes the rap and rots in solitary.
Without, or so we’re told, the comfort of so much as a mattress. Which in itself is a touch ironic given the prominence the regime’s prosecutors gave to a mattress in the process of ‘proving’ trumped-up charges against Anwar Ibrahim.
But to return to and restate the point of this column, today and every day until she is released from her illegal, indeed criminal imprisonment, I am, you are, we all honest, true and freedom-loving citizens of Malaysia or any other country, are Maria Chin Abdullah.
Just as, both individually and collectively, we are also Anwar Ibrahim, Teoh Beng Hock, Altantuya Shaariibuu and the countless other victims of the evil, viciously repressive and long-overdue-for-removal Umno/BN regime.
DEAN JOHNS, after many years in Asia, currently lives with his Malaysian-born wife and daughter in Sydney, where he coaches and mentors writers and authors and practises as a writing therapist. Published books of his columns for Malaysiakini include ‘Mad about Malaysia', ‘Even Madder about Malaysia', ‘Missing Malaysia', ‘1Malaysia.con’ and ‘Malaysia Mania’.- Mkini