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Friday, April 01, 2011

Sex Tapes, Lies, and Malaysian Politics

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Walski was in college when the film Sex, Lies, and Videotape (IMDb) was released in 1989. It created a sort of tempest in a teacup in the city where his college was.

Image taken from IMDB, hosting by Photobucket Why? For one, the film was shot on location in and around the college campus, and its director, a then relatively unknown chap named Steven Soderbergh (Wikipedia), was closely affiliated with the college. But more importantly, the film’s title provoked a lot of speculative anxiety amongst the mostly conservative community of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Walski recalls church groups (on and off campus) being up in arms protesting against the film being shown anywhere near the city. And definitely not anywhere near the college campus. All this, just because of the title – little was known about the film itself, or what it actually contained.

The trigger word was “sex”, which, as it turns out was talked about extensively in the film, but without any actual sex. In fact, despite it’s R-rating, there wasn’t even a single bit of nudity.

Fast-forward 32 years – just about everybody in Malaysia is talking about the Anwar Ibrahim sex video, yet another episode in the “scandal”-ridden career of Malaysia’s opposition leader. Whether or not it was actually him in it doesn’t seem to matter, particularly not to those who are politically opposed to Anwar.

In fact, they’re convinced it’s him. Some are convinced without even having viewed the video. So convinced, that many of the UMNO-sponsored blog and Twitter personalities are talking as if it was conclusively Anwar Ibrahim.

It’s almost like the Sex, Lies, and Videotape fuss all over again. Just because Anwar is implicated. And the speculations continue to be spread across the Net, as if it were the gospel truth.
(the gutter that is Malaysian politics, and more, in the full post)

If you’ve been cruising the blogs and/or on Twitter long enough, you’ll know that there is a concerted effort to malign Anwar any chance there is. Spearheading this ongoing smear campaign is none other than UMNO Youth’s New Media Unit – better known as Unit Media Baru, or UMB for short.

Walski calls them Unit Media Balaci, because whether they like it or not, they are not much more than UMNO’s errand boys. And also because these UMB fellers are fond of calling their opponents balaci (loosely translated: runners or errand boys) of DAP, PAS, etc.

You see, whether there is truth or not to Anwar being in the video doesn’t matter – it’s all politics, and the game plan is smear as much shit on him, whenever and however possible.

That’s what Malaysian politics on the Internet has been reduced to – dredge up the sleaziest and slimiest details about your opponent, then spread them far and wide. Truth and veracity of such details are inconsequential. It’s more important to spread ‘em as if they were true.

But back to the so-called conclusive video of Anwar. About a week ago, writer Kim Quek’s letter on the subject of the video was published on Malaysiakini (emphasis by myAsylum):

"There is one simple way to find out whether 'Datuk T's' pornographic video showing a look-alike of Anwar Ibrahim is a hoax, and that is to go to Anwar's Facebook from your own Facebook account and look for his entries at the time when the video was supposed to be recorded, which is 10:23pm to 10:45pm on Feb 21, 2011. I just did that, and I found that Anwar made entries on that day at 10:40pm, 10:49pm, 10:50pm, for which he received nine comments, 17 comments, and eight comments respectively.

And thereafter, he made another seven entries, up till 11:28pm. The fact that Anwar was actually posting messages in Facebook at the relevant time clearly indicates that Anwar couldn't have been doing what was indicated in the video.

As jokingly exclaimed by Anwar during the press conference on Mar 21, hours after the exposure of the video: How could he be carrying out the sex act and typing on his computer at the same time?

Obviously, 'Datuk T' had neglected to look up Anwar's Facebook page before he launched his pornographic piece."
(source: Malaysiakini)

Image taken from Malaysiakini, hosting by Photobucket The ‘Datuk T’ referred to turns out to be three individuals: former Malacca Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik, businessman Datuk Shazryl Eskay, and former Umno senator Datuk Shuib Lazim. In fact, Eskay is one of the persons purportedly seen in the video (although not the actual sex participant).

The UMNO leadership has since denied that the party had anything to do with the tape. That said, the fact remains that all 3 individuals that make up the trio are related to UMNO. To do with the actual commissioning and eventual release of the video tape or not, the three have implicated UMNO.

And it’s no big secret that UMB – very much an official part of UMNO – is out to smear Anwar and Pakatan Rakyat any chance they get, through the dissemination of what Walski considers half-truths at best, and outright lies worst case.

So like it or not, the party IS involved, albeit probably not on an official level. If UMNO were really serious about denying its culpability in the issue of the video, the membership of the Datuk T trio should be stripped with immediate effect. That, of course, has not happened, to Walski’s knowledge.

Not surprisingly, Perkasa has come out in defense of the Datuk T trio – to the right-wing Malay NGO, the participants of the video are the bigger “sinners” than the trio that exposed the exploit (link via The Malaysian Insider).

“But if the man in the video is a top Malay leader as has been said, then he must leave politics altogether as it would be an insult to Islam and the Malay race,” he added.
(source: The Malaysian Insider)

The endgame, as it appears, is to get Anwar Ibrahim out of the political picture. And as we’ve seen, through any means necessary.

It’s essentially politics, once everything is done and dusted. But it’s the methods that are unsavory, no level low enough to stoop to it seems. The lower the better, in fact. That’s the kind of gutter politics we have today.

But Walski is of the opinion that the sex tape has already made an impact, particularly for those who would rather believe what the UMNOphiles have to say, rather than assess the facts for themselves.

In 1989, when the church groups in Baton Rouge protested the screening of Sex, Lies, and Videotape, the facts became secondary – there was no sex in the film, just a lot of dialog about it. Even after the film’s release, they continued protesting for a while.

Sometimes, innuendo and half-truths make for better spin-meistering. The truth can be boring, and boring never buys mindshare. But that’s the environment we have today – truth becomes secondary, and the ends justify whatever means.

Worse, rumor has it that more exposés are in the pipeline. If you think Malaysian politics has gotten as dirty as it possibly can, Walski’s just afraid that you ain’t seen nothing yet…