Ten days into the fifth month of 2008...
Walski apologizes for being off-radar the last few days, but he was on one of his work trips, where Internet access is limited to the common areas of the hotel, and work-related online access had to take priority. Hotels in Malaysia... while they realize that Internet access is important to their business guests, in-room access seems to be available in only the most fully-booked hotels. Walski thinks that there's a correlation there - but this post is not about Internet access, per se. Or hotels. So we'll leave those sleeping dogs to their continued slumber. For now.
In any case, it seems that every interesting bit of news this past week has had to do, one way or another, with The Force. Not the Yoda-Skywalker kind, but the Royal Malaysian Police variety. And when it's not been about The Force, it's been about the numerous reports made to The Force.
Grabbing the headlines, both online and in print, was undoubtedly the charging of RPK and Syed Akbar Ali with sedition. And the apparently made-for-Bollywood melodrama that accompanied the whole RPK thing.
Raja Petra Kamaruddin after his release
(picture from The People's Parliament)
But Pete has explained why the drama - in his first posting after being released from the Sungai Buloh detention center. And if you thought the refusing bail part was dramatic, read his first-hand account of the whole thing, plus what went on inside of the detention center.
It's the stuff of intrigue, explosive Mongolian models and poison-aversion techniques... in a place where life is measured by how many packs of cigarettes you have on hand to get someone else do your nasty bidding...
(May The Force NOT be ON you, and more, in the full post)
In the Star Wars universe the phrase "May The Force Be With You" is a blessing on someone, of sorts. Like, Peace Be With You, or may God Be With You - which, incidentally, is supposedly where the English word 'goodbye' originates.
In Malaysia, it really should be May The Force Be ON You - and is a greeting of ill-intent. Because, going by what Haris encountered, these fellers have surely taken the art of harrassment to a whole new level of finesse. As in blatant harrassment, without an ounce of pretense whatsoever.
While attending a candlelight vigil for the release of RPK, The Peole's Parliament numero uno was detained by The Force, in what appears to be a case of blatant police harassment. Threatened at Dataran Merdeka with arrest, Haris being the good citizen he is, allowed himself to be taken in to the police station, where he later finds out the truth about his detainment (minor edits and emphasis by myAsylum).
I then inquired if I was under arrest, and informed him that Sidney [the officer at the scene] had earlier said that I was.
The reply [from the senior officer].
‘He does not know. I am in charge. No arrest, just harrass’.
(source: The People's Parliament)
Haris, my friend, Walski is glad that you're okay.
Meanwhile, The Force also descended on the residents of Bandar Mahkota Cheras, who'd had enough of a barricade purposefully put up by Grand Saga, making them have to travel 6 km extra to avoid paying toll. And they removed the barricade - for the third time (via Malaysiakini, subscription required).
Third time lucky... so the saying goes. But this third time saw The Force descend on the residents like a ton of water-canon ammo, specially enhanced with tear gas, turbo-charging the already acrid environment with just the right amount of flavorful zing. The Force - and on whose behalf exactly were they serving a dishful of whoop-ass this time?
The question is rhetorical, and therefore you can think about it on your own. Walski's not gonna answer it here, in fear that it may create an unnecessary grand saga.
Not only was it an assault on the residents' sense of outrage, but also physically, on the concerned Member of Parliament who was there lending his support to the residents' plight. According to Malaysiakini, MP for Segambut, Lim Lip Eng was hospitalized yesterday, following the physical assault on his person by The Force the day before.
Ironically, as the rate of violent crimes increases, crimes already committed continue to go unsolved, missing children still untraceable... when it comes to protecting the interests of those with power (and not necessarily just political power), The Force acts most expeditiously.
And with much gusto.
You really have to wonder sometimes... what happened to real priorities (like keeping crime to a minimum, if not zero)? Or has The Force forgotten who pays their bills, ultimately?
Perhaps The Force has been taken over by the dark side - that anti-good flip side whose lure is apparently so alluring and difficult to refuse. In the Star Wars universe, at least.
Here in planet Malaysia, the metaphysical dark side probably manifests itself in real-world objects which are as difficult to refuse as its movie-world counterpart.
This is, of course, speculation on Walski's part, based on what he has observed all these years. So much so that The Force has lost a tremendous amount of respect from the very public they're there to serve and protect.
Just like the Government under whom they operate - who, of course, lost a whole big chunk of mandate on March 8th. But the rules of the game being what they are, popular vote percentage accounts for squat, and the incumbents on March 7th are still the incumbents on March 9th, for another 4 - 5 years. At the Federal level anyway.
And so this past week's domestic happenings was dominated by The Force. Much of which Walski is only penning (or keyboarding) down, in retrospect. But retrospect is not always a bad thing. In fact, it sometimes allows for some reflecting time - and since Walski's not vain, he's not talking about the standing in front of the mirror type of reflecting.
As if by some sheer non-coincidence, here's one of the news items that appeared in The Star today.
But how effective is the Malaysian version of the ICAC gonna be? And will it become the inspiration for countless sappy, insipid romance-laden TV serials like its Hong Kong counterpart has? Reading the later paragraphs gives us a hint:
“The panel will help the commission and Government from being accused of covering up or protecting those involved in suspected corrupt practices.
“Although the panel cannot make any statement on cases presented to it, nonetheless its involvement in the advisory panel will give confidence to the public that all investigations had been properly scrutinised and monitored before a case is dropped or closed,” Abu Kassim told The Star.
(source: The Star)
Nope. No romantic insipidity anticipated. "Will give confidence to the public?" Yeah, Walski is confident that the proposed MCAC will be as effective as Suhakam is. Another lame duck commission. Why bother, really?
To Walski, the operative words that are missing: transparency and accountability. Nowhere near what the originally proposed IPCMC's objective was. Yes, past tense. Because as long as transparency is feared, and accountability doesn't include accountability to The People (only to some people), we can forget about a truly independent commission. And THAT we can be confident of. But then again, that's just Walski's opinion.
In the meantime, however, The Force will remain as it is - status quo ad nauseum. Which to Walski means that things will remain the way they are even if we're at the point where we're nauseated by it.
And it is Walski's hope that The Force will not be ON you one day. Like it's been ON a bunch of folks this past week, for no other reason than because these folks decided that the honorable thing to do was to stand by what they think is right.
Then again, this is Malaysia - where right is wrong, and three lefts make a U-turn... of which, we've seen so many lately, IPCMC being one of 'em.
But that's the subject of another post. Or five.