It is Putrajaya that is embarrassing Malaysia, and not Anwar

By Hans “Ramachandran” Isaac

anwar-ibrahimKL112-732Putrajaya it seems, with nowhere to run regarding the attempt to shield the accused Rizalman Ismail, Malaysian diplomat turned alleged sex assailant in New Zealand, has directed scorn at Anwar Ibrahim for “trying to tarnish Malaysia’s image”.

Its statement yesterday had blamed Anwar for intending “to opportunistically damage Malaysia’s reputation for personal political gain” by criticizing the federal government’s attempt to stop the accused diplomat from undergoing a trial in New Zealand.

Anwar’s “opportunistic statements” included the following:

“I am appalled that they had the audacity to suggest that an attempted rape and assault crime should be withdrawn on the basis of diplomatic immunity”.

“I know how rotten the failure of the governance here is, but I cannot imagine that we can write to a different country and request the withdrawal of these criminal charges.”

Putrajaya’s Anwar-bashing attempt is not foreign to the Malaysian audience, as previously experienced during the MH370 fiasco. Anwar had then slammed the government for exposing their incapability in responding to the missing flight, and accusing the government of a cover-up, following the mysteriously deleted cargo records; which Putrajaya dismissed as lies and a “smear attempt”.

What the federal government has not addressed is the fact that it asked New Zealand to drop charges and return the alleged criminal to our country, to be judged by our supposedly unbiased and fair Malaysian court instead of standing trial in New Zealand. But, it’s a blaming game, where the government wants Malaysians to think that the nation’s pride is under fire for criticism of clearly improper and undiplomatic behavior.

The point where the Malaysian government invited embarrassment was during its failed attempt to make New Zealand look like they had requested the accused to be returned to Malaysia. As this unfolded, the New Zealand government released the documents showing that they were not the ones who asked for Rizalman’s “escape” to Malaysia.

The letter by the High Commission of Malaysia to New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) read,
“The High Commission of Malaysia has the honour to inform that the Government of Malaysia will not waive the personal immunity granted to Mr Muhammad Rizalman Bin Ismail and has decided that he should be repatriated to Malaysia as soon as possible,” read the letter that also proposed 22 May as the date for his return.

It also asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to consider “sealing all documentations” and “withdrawing all charges” against the alleged.

On top of that, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key had stated his position that a Kiwi court should be tasked to put the alleged criminal on trial.

This was when Putrajaya’s handling of the issue once again embarrassed Malaysia. Orchestrating ineffective scapegoating using Anwar does make the government look like it is throwing a hissy fit after being embarrassed. When days later, Putrajaya finally agreed to extradite the accused -although that was the right thing to do- it has not helped to clear Malaysia’s marred impression.

The ruling government would prefer if Malaysians were the kind who supported it in every decision it takes; anything else would be taken as an attempt to “taint our nation’s image”, whatever that means. Any criticism is deemed as filth spewing over Malaysia’s pristine international image.

This line of reasoning by the government has become an expected encore performance by Putrajaya. One can assume that amongst Malaysians, this has become an old song, highly effective in inducing yawns and the occasional eye-twitching frustration.

Using this skewed logic, Anwar will continue being Putrajaya’s target of choice. But the opposition leader does not look like he is going to slow down anytime soon, as far as criticising the government goes.

And how can the man stop?

Apart from having to protect himself from government punches, quite literally at times, Anwar’s modus operandi as an opposition leader who must scrutinize the government for its flaws has been a walk in the park, since the Malaysian government has not shied away from embarrassing itself in various domestic or international incidents.

With the likes of Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Hishammudin Hussein, Najib Razak, and Ibrahim Ali effectively providing more political ammunition for Anwar, the defacto leader of PKR has had his hands full. How could Anwar Ibrahim not slam Putrajaya when they seem to be in the business of inviting mockery? -The Rocket

* The views expressed in this article are the personal opinion of the columnist.

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