In the 80s, there was a popular music called Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, or OMD for short, which Walski kinda liked. Apart from the title’s intentional similarity to the group’s name, this post has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with them.
Okay, not quite true, because it does have a teensy-weensy bit to do with the latter – who’s known for making grand objects disappear into thin air. Or lead us to believe that they do, anyway.
A Reverse-Copperfield, therefore, is to make something that’s not actually there, miraculously appear. It’s a term Walski made up earlier today, and that is about the extent Walski wants to discuss about David Copperfield.
So what the heck IS this post about?
Well, let’s just say that it’s about an historic event that maybe didn’t actually happen…
(sometimes, things are the way they don’t seem, and more, in the full post)
Flashback a couple of weeks ago, just as Walski was about to end his wonderful week-long sojourn in Bali. Fellow-blogger and friend Marina M. went and totally ruined his holiday mood by texting him about what had just happened at home in Malaysia.
Okay, so Marina didn’t actually ruin anything, but her text message did get Walski to thinking about it. And the more Walski thought about it… his mind went like, what if… the whole caning thing never actually happen?
There are a few reasons why Walski entertains this possibility.
First off, according to the various news reports covering the historic female threesome caning, the women turned themselves in to the religious authorities. While this is not something implausible by any measure, have we bothered to ask ourselves, “WHY?”. Especially when one of them is already a mother (and married – more about that later). Are we to believe that guilt is that great a motivator?
And then we have the role of the Malay language press – why wasn’t the surrender of the three reported? Newspapers like Utusan, it’s more evil offspring Harian Metro, and the like, are usually very quick to pick up on these sorts of “redeeming” human interest stories. Granted the fact that he doesn’t usually read these rags, Walski had not heard ANYTHING about 3 women willingly submitting themselves to the religious authorities, purely out of guilt. Because that kind of news would’ve been BIG. You’d have had every religious authority, and their uncles, gloat about how great and successful their Islam-as-I-say-tion programs have been, to elicit such remorse in these “criminals” that they’d turn themselves in.
If it had been reported, it would have been talked about extensively around the Bloggerhood and Twitterverse (even if Walski hadn’t read the initial report). But no – the first time anyone even knew about this is when Spanky was quoted in the news, around February 17th.
Third – why is it that all 3 “executions” were carried out on the same day (February 9th, 2010), and at the same place (Kajang Prison)? Oh, and carried out in complete secrecy, apart from representatives from various governmental agencies who witnessed the historic event (translation by myAsylum).
Hishammuddin berkata wakil dari kementeriannya turut hadir semasa pelaksanaan hukuman dibuat bersama 13 orang lagi antaranya Pengarah Jabatan Agama Wilayah, Pegawai Jabatan Agama Wilayah dan wakil dari Bahagian Syariah Jabatan Peguam Negara serta wakil dari Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia.
Hishammuddin said that representatives from his ministry were also there during the execution of the sentence, with 13 others, including the Director of the Wilayah Religious Department, officers from the Wilayah Religious Department, and representative(s) from the Syariah Section of the Attorney General's Office, plus representatives from the Department of Islamic Advancement of Malaysia (JAKIM).
(source: The Malaysian Insider)
Meanwhile, The Star also reported Spanky’s pronouncement of the caning. The way it was presented adds to the doubts Walski has about the caning exercise (emphasis by myAsylum).
Hishammuddin said he decided to bring to public attention the punishment meted to the three women because there had been “too much hype” over Kartika’s sentence.
“People are saying that no woman has been caned before and that Kartika should not be caned.
“Today I am announcing that we have already done it. There is no hidden agenda, we are merely executing our responsibility,” he told a press conference at his office yesterday.
(source: The Star)
Which brings us to the matter of timing – his decision came two weeks before Karthika was supposed to meet with the Regent of Pahang. Now, “too much hype” surrounding Karthika’s sentencing had been the case since the decision to cane her was made in July 2009. Why the wait?
July 2009 also happens to be one month
before the reported surrender of the 3 women, in August 2009. Which brings us to how superbly “efficient” the syariah court system has been in this specific case. Whip, Spank, Thank You Ma’am. As opposed to the highly inefficient Home Ministry, that is, basing on the timeline we’re expected to believe.
Due process of the law being what it is – it takes time, in other words – regardless of which court system, the entire process of surrender, trial, sentencing and execution took only about 8 months. It also raises the question of who, if anyone, represented the three “criminals”. No one seems to know, actually.
It’s reasonable practice to protect the identity of the 3 women – they have, by their own admission, reformed. The Star (and apparently no one else) carried a human interest story related to the three, identifying them by the pseudonyms Ayu, Aishah and Nur. One of the three, Nur, however was quoted to have said something that didn’t make any reasonable sense to Walski at all.
The third offender, Nur, who has a three-year-old toddler, said although she had wanted to make things right by marrying her lover, she took a long time to do so as she could not find her father to give her away.
(source: The Star)
Nur, presumably did make things right, despite waiting 3 years (going by her child’s age). And what does she do after that? Surrender herself to the religious authorities. Nur is either stupid, insane, or… was the entire caning story fabricated?
Here’s what Walski thinks: yes, the Karthika case has been hyped beyond belief – but for good reason. Part of the hype – and presumably perceived to be central to it – was that she’d have been the first woman in Malaysia to be caned (albeit the unhurtful syariah way). Poor Karthika, though – she’s now been deprived the honor of being the first. Tsk, tsk.
And the hype has placed the syariah court system in ill-repute. Although, what repute it had to begin with is questionable. But let’s not go there.
Calculating that carrying out the caning sentence in secrecy would outrage a lot of people, it was also probably calculated that the outrage would outweigh the desire to pause for a bit and think about the plausibility of the whole thing. Probably true in the case of most concerned Malaysians.
And so, as a form of damage control and PR, create 3 female “syariah criminals”, “punish” them by syariah caning, and then proclaim, “See? We’ve already done it – what’s the big deal?”
Well, the big deal is that Walski, who did take the time to think about it, doesn’t like it when his government lies to him. As he’s sure is the case with many of his fellow citizens.
Yesterday, something else was reported, which strengthens Walski’s belief that the caning of the three women was a stage-managed PR exercise, and that no caning took place at all – the possibility of Karthika being pardoned by HRH the Sultan of Pahang (via The Malaysian Insider), and also reported by The Star.
In all likelihood, Walski suspects Karthika will receive a pardon. The government and the various interested authorities may not be too thrilled with this prospect – they will, however, not make too much of a fuss. Again, this is Walski’s own speculation.
The caning of the three women – whether or not it actually happened – does achieve one thing: it reiterates the fact that the Third Power Column is very much alive, and wishes to make it clear who’s really in charge. And anyone who dares challenge the Third Power Column will be labeled negatively (see this The Malaysian Insider report for an example).
The fear factor instilled by such a collusion between an elected government, and an unelected pressure group, however, is all too real. Yesterday, The Star nixed this week’s installment of Marina M.’s weekly column Musings, in fear of similar repercussions like what happened with Managing Editor P. Gunasegaram’s piece entitled “Persuasion, not Compulsion” (via Unscientific Malaysian – The Star has removed the article from their site). In the Quran, there is not supposed to be any compulsion when it comes to religion. In Malaysia, however, the reality can be quite the opposite.
More importantly, a precedent has been set. One which the Government (guided by the Third Power Column) will try to use to silence any future dissent when it comes to religious matters. Nevermind that the caning could have been something of a Reverse Copperfield. Walski thinks so anyway, based on all the circumstantial clues.
When faced with difficult circumstances, sometimes what it takes for the desperate to succeed is a bit of illusionary maneuvers… preferably in the dark, away from the scrutiny of concerned citizens.