A Chinese chap from Sabah told me that it was a big mistake to detain Bersih chief Maria Chin Abdullah.
I was quite irritated with this chap because he is from Barisan Nasional and an architect.
Hence I expected him to be smarter than a normal Malaysian.
His contention is that by arresting Maria Chin it turns her into a heroine and gives her more international exposure and would give Prime Minister Najib Razak a negative image internationally.
My reply was, “So what?”
He thought my reply was rather rude and he told me so.
Actually I intended to be rude and I make no apologies for it because stupidity irritates me.
I think this chap from Sabah was demonstrating that he is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.
If these are the type of people Barisan Nasional (BN) depends on to win the next general election then maybe Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman should begin to get very worried.
In April 2001, ten Reformasi activists were detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
The deputy prime minister (DPM) and home minister was Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
The media ambushed Abdullah in Parliament and asked him about the three or four detentions under the ISA and how many more were on the list (at that time only four so far had been detained but, by the time it ended, over the next few days ten in total were detained).
Abdullah denied that anyone had been detained under the ISA.
The press then told Abdullah that three or four people had been detained and, in fact, it had been confirmed.
Abdullah was stumped.
He said he is not aware of that and if some people had been detained then it cannot have been under the ISA because he had not ordered any arrests or signed any papers.
The thing is Abdullah might have been Malaysia’s DPM and home minister, but the police do not need to get his permission or authorisation or get him to sign any papers before they arrest or detain someone.
The fact that Abdullah denied these arrests in Parliament and was stumped when told that the arrests.
His denial showed that police work independently of their political masters.
It was the same thing when Musa Hitam was Malaysia’s DPM and home minister in 1985.
Then Inspector-General (IGP) Mohammed Hanif Omar was on one year sabbatical leave (he was in the UK doing law), so the Deputy IGP Amin Osman, was the acting IGP.
On Nov 19, 1985, a very worried Amin went to see Musa and said that something serious had just happened in Memali that had resulted in a few deaths.
Musa stopped Amin from speaking further and told him that they had better informed the prime mnister (PM).
Musa phoned Mahathir Mohamad and said that the acting IGP was with him and that they had something very important to talk to him about.
Musa and Amin then went to see Mahathir and Amin briefed the PM about what happened in Memali.
Basically it was a police operation and both Mahathir as PM and Musa as home minister were not involved in the operations on the ground.
But then Kedah is Mahathir’s home state so maybe the prime minister should postpone his trip to China the following day.
Mahathir, however, refused to postpone his trip and the following day he left for China, leaving Musa to handle the Memali fallout.
Of course, for 30 years Malaysians were led to believe that Musa was the acting PM on Nov 19, 1985 when he was actually the acting PM only on the following day, Nov 20, 1985 and that he, as home minister, was behind the Memali tragedy (when it was a local Kedah police operation).
Anyway, the point is, Musa was told about the matter only after the operation had ended and 18 people had died, four of them police officers.
For 30 years Malays, in particular from PAS, cursed Musa.
When Musa’s son and daughter-in-law died in the Highland Towers tragedy, many said ‘padan muka’ (serves him right) and that this is God’s punishment for killing 18 people in Memali.
By the way, just to digress a bit, initially PAS denied that Ibrahim Libya was their member or had any links to the party. They wanted to distance themselves from the incident lest it gives PAS an extremist or militant image.
But later, when they discovered they could gain political milage out of that matter, they claimed that Ibrahim was one of their people.
So this brings us back to the issue of Maria Chin and to what that Sabah Barisan Nasional chap said about her detention being bad for Najib.
When we have educated BN people thinking like DAP people, what hope is there for BN?
Maybe during Mahathir’s time, the police had to talk to Mahathir first before arresting anyone.
But that changed after 2003.
I remember in 1985 when IGP Hanif had to go and see Mahathir to inform the PM that the police were going to arrest Abdullah Ang for embezzlement.
Abdullah Ang, just like Eric Chia and many other business tycoons, was Mahathir’s close friend so the police did not dare arrest him unless the PM allows it.
Mahathir just kept quiet and after a few minutes of silence he asked Hanif whether the evidence was strong.
Hanif showed Mahathir the file and said that the evidence was overwhelming.
Mahathir then sighed and told Hanif to go ahead and arrest Abdullah then.
Hanif also informed Mahathir about Anwar Ibrahim’s sexual misdeeds.
Hanif said the police have a thick file on Anwar and asked Mahathir what they should do about this matter.
Mahathir told Hanif to go see Anwar and inform him that the police were aware of his sexual misdeeds.
Hanif then went to Anwar’s house in Damansara and told the DPM to stop his nonsense before it gets him into trouble.
Three years later, Mahathir used this issue to destroy Anwar just as his number two was about to destroy him.
By the way, before I end this piece, one day I was having a drink with Amin (when he was the acting IGP) and I told him since he was now in charge why not he clean up the police force and get rid of the corrupted police officers.
Amin replied that if he did that he would need to sack 97% of the police officers and Malaysia would no longer have a police force.
I then asked Amin whether he was in the 97% or the 3% and he responded by saying, “For that you are going to pay for the drinks.”
That, of course, was less painful than being charged for sedition.