I am scribbling this piece now because it looks like the shooting of non-lethal oral ballistic missiles to and fro across the South China Sea has ceased, and the invisible, fuel-spent vapour has dissipated.
No point for me to shout during the horrendous din, is there?
Oh, before we go further, let me assure my reader that I am not trying to defend that fellow Nazri. Whether he got brickbats or bouquets means absolutely nothing to me.
The launchers of the missiles were Malaysia’s Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz, in the West, and his Sarawak counterpart Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, in the East.
Karim bellyached about the tourism tax to be imposed on hotels in his home state, and whined about the federal government’s ignoring of the celebrated Malaysia Agreement 1963.
Nazri ruptured a few blood veins. He said he was upset at Karim’s remark. He called the latter a political greenhorn. He also said that if the latter was a gangster, he himself was an even bigger one. Did I hear him say, “So, bring it on!”?
All very insulting, some people have said. But perhaps the insult was deserved? We’ll see shortly.
Nazri isn’t exactly known — or, would “perceived” be the more appropriate word? — as a genteel, polished toff. Applying diplomatic language certainly isn’t his forté.
It was not surprising, therefore, that while jantan (manly) blood was still gushing out of Nazri’s broken veins, many megabytes of brickbats were being fired off at him.
Unfortunately for Nazri, the brickbats would have been fired off at his opponent instead had he been a nice sort of fellow.
Unfortunately for Nazri, so consumed have his detractors been with their dislike of him that they do not seem to have had the presence of mind to tell him that the bill for the Tourism Tax must have been discussed in Parliament prior, and that Karim and/or his colleagues from Sarawak would have been present during the tabling of it.
They would have had the presence of mind to ask what Karim and/or his colleagues from Sarawak had done about the matter, if they were there. And if they were not there, why.
It seems that the bill was not foisted on Sarawak (and Sabah) like a thunderbolt out of the blue yesterday. It was actually tabled and discussed three months ago in Parliament.
It also seems that from Sarawak, only Senator Dr Zaiedi Suhaili asked whether Sarawak could get an exemption for the time being. For the time being and not forever. He did not object to it nor to Nazri’s explanation that tourism and taxes were under the purview of the federal government as per the Federal Constitution.
From Sabah, only Warisan’s Penampang MP Darell Leiking objected to it.
All the whining from the BN politicians in Sarawak (and minimally in Sabah) about the federal government ignoring the celebrated Agreement is really very tiresome and irritating.
It all is nothing new.
When in 2012-2013 I researched the infamous Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation, I surmised that the intent to dishonour the Agreement would seem to have existed even before it was signed, that it was entered into merely to entice Sarawak and the then-British North Borneo (now Sabah) to come together with Malaya and Singapore to form Malaysia.
And the dishonouring began even before the ink on the document had sufficiently dried, so to speak, starting with Sarawak.
To wit, Sarawak’s first chief minister, the late Stephen Kalong Ningkan, saw it. And he did not want to play ball. As a result, moves were made to topple him (when he had sat for only two years in the CM’s seat).
As a result of his fighting tooth and nail, Sarawak was declared to be in a state of emergency.
The Agreement was supposed to have been reviewed every ten years. That means to date, five reviews ought to have been instituted. None has been. What have the BN politicians in the two states done? Nothing. Only whining.
Many points in the Agreement have been dishonoured. What have the BN politicians in the two states done? Nothing. Only whining.
Nothing. Only whining. Even then, only now and then. And usually only before a general election.
So, the message to them is "man up, men, or forever hold your peace and remain servile, sycophantic serfs".
So, has Karim deserved the insult?