MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nuclear Power Plants in Malaysia: “The Simpsons” in real life

by Mariam Mokhtar@www.malaysiakini.com

If ’1Malaysia’ were a TV series, it would be ‘The Simpsons‘. Reading about Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s desire to have nuclear power plants in Malaysia is like watching a replay of ‘The Simpsons‘, the series in real life.

In both – the country and the cartoon, government and large corporations are portrayed as callous entities that take advantage of the common worker and authority figures are seen in an unflattering light. Politicians are corrupt and the local police force is incompetent.

Religion is a recurring theme and in times of crisis, the family in ‘The Simpsons‘ turns to God, whilst in real-life Malaysia, politicians are not averse to using religion as a manipulative tool.

In Malaysia’s own version of ‘The Simpsons‘, Najib can only be Mr Burns, the evil owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant who is attended to at all times by Waylon Smithers, his obedient and sycophantic aide, confidant and secret admirer.

Smithers has homosexual tendencies and enjoys an intimacy with power that most people will never experience. As I am not privy to the Najib administration or his household, I do not know who, in real-life could assume Smithers’ rôle.

Mr Burns cuts corners and endangers people’s lives. Najib is about to do that with his mad scheme of wanting two nuclear power plants for Malaysia even though he is aware of Malaysia’s poor track record of maintenance.

Our costly mistakes in the Defence Ministry (where a high level of technical expertise is critical) have shown that scant attention has been paid to contracts. Purchases of faulty or obsolete equipment, or non-existent items and the use of low-grade materials in construction and short-cuts in maintenance have resulted in wastage and death.

Just like Najib, Mr Burns is a stereotype of Corporate America. He has an unquenchable desire to increase his own wealth and power, coupled with a lack of concern for his workers, or for the safety and well-being of citizens of Springfield.

Springfield’s richest man built his atomic energy fortune from the ground up after inheriting his father’s atom-splitting factory. Najib built his career by piggy-backing on the reputation of his father, Malaysia’s second prime minister. Like Mr Burns, Najib has been able to control local elections and possess unparalleled power in the country.

Out of step with public opinion

Mr Burns’ state of mind is the subject of frequent jokes on the show. At times, he appears to be completely removed from reality. Looking at the NEM and various BN policies, it is obvious that Najib is also out of step with public opinion. Burns is unaware of the townspeople’s general dislike of him. Najib believes that his 69 percent popularity rating is a good sign.

Mr Burns is Springfield’s richest and most powerful citizen and he uses his power and wealth to do whatever he wants, usually without regard for the consequences and without interference from the authorities. Many will argue that the similarities between Najib and Mr Burns, are uncanny. Towns which have seen by-elections, like Sibu, can testify to Najib’s vote-buying.

Mr Burns spends his time in his office at the nuclear plant. Najib spends his time, when he is not on overseas trips, in Putrajaya. In Springfield, workers are monitored by closed circuit cameras. In Putrajaya, this is no different, where every corner spouts two, possibly more closed circuit cameras and is known to be Malaysia’s most ‘watched’ place.

President Truman thought Mr Burns to be the nation’s most trustworthy person and asked him to transport a specially-printed trillion-dollar bill to Europe as the USA’s contribution to the reconstruction of Europe. Similarly, Malaysians thought that its prime minister was the most trusted person and could only watch in vain as Najib frittered away the nation’s wealth with mega-projects, like the 100-storey Warisan Merdeka.

Burns resides in Burns Manor, a vast, ornate mansion on an immense estate. It is protected by a high wall, an electrified fence, and a pack of vicious attack dogs known as “The Hounds”. Najib lives in his official residence, the ostentatious Seri Perdana which is undergoing a RM65million refurbishment and is similarly well-protected.

Mr Burns routinely subjects Springfield and its residents to his abuse and, as a result, there is a general dislike of him throughout the town. On paper, we will be shown to have acquired the best and most expensive nuclear know-how. But the whole-world knows we are suckers.

What if we thought we were building a nuclear power that was built to specifications but because of Malaysia’s massive sub-contracting and Ali Baba schemes, we ended up with a nuclear facility that was inferior?

Shoddy quick-fix

What if the contract was not properly scrutinised and we found that we were liable for extra costs or maintenance? What if nuclear material went missing? What if terrorist organisations exploited our weakness? What if we invited the friendship of rogue nations because of their nuclear ambitions?

Those in government hardly care if the project fails or not. Those involved will have made their cut of the deal. We may think we are paying for the best when in fact, we are only paying for a shoddy quick-fix job engineered by Ali Baba companies. The disappearance of two jet engines is relatively minor when compared with a problem of nuclear proportions.

In ‘The Simpsons‘, Mr Burns has blackmailed and bribed various officials in Springfield, including the mayor and the nuclear safety inspectors.That is the scary bit. Will Najib or his administration also attempt to bribe the nuclear safety inspectors and thus endanger Malaysia?

Sadly, we do not have a loveable bungling Homer Simpson who will always manage to save the situation with his strokes of good luck.

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