In the run-up to the 2004 general election, we were assured by the MCA that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had the virtues of the legendary magistrate Bao Gong (Justice Bao).
The MCA boasted that the PM would be a man of unimpeachable fairness and integrity, promising that the saviour of Malaysia's future would demonstrate transparency and accountability.
Since then, the MCA has remained rather still and mouse-quiet whenever we demand for evidence and credence to the Bao Gong allusion. Like dandruff, the pre-general election painted gloss has flaked off dreadfully. When asked by a Bangkok newspaper of Dr Mahathir Mohamad's accusation of his (Abdullah's) family's peccadilloes, the so-called 'Bao Gong' talked instead of Mahathir breaking his son-in-law's pot of rice.
Would the original Bao Gong have stated that? As Dr Bakri Musa wrote in his column , the PM should be concerned about the rakyat's (people's) pot of rice rather than that of his own family members, especially when prices for oil and other goods and services have shot up significantly to hurt the common man's pocket.
Where is the transparency and accountability that we expect of him? How was his son-in-law able to obtain such a humongous sum of loan without any collateral to buy shares in a company? How could that very company be approved to merge with a government financial service unit, without considering the public question of the PM's (concurrently finance minister's) conflict of interest?
But at every turn of the way, with every fresh query, he automatically defended his family members without even explaining satisfactorily to the public their concerns on government propriety. Huge contracts continued to be handed out to specific companies without open tender. His earlier boast of 'no more mega project' imploded with neither embarrassment nor explanation.
Scandalous misuse of maintenance funds for schools and financial aid for tsunami relief, etc, have been revealed respectively by BN politicians and the auditor-general's report. His minister refused to open for inspection contractual arrangements and reports that claimed to justify hikes in road toll charges. By so refusing to be accountable and transparent, his government has, in fact, answered the question the public fear and detest.
Under his premiership, even an Umno-controlled state has not been above board, refusing to openly account for the rise of water tariffs, and as if to punish further the shocked sense of the paying public into sheer disbelief, has incredulously classified those reports as 'secret'. The paying public are treated with disdain like dumb cash cows to be milked at will.
The pot of rice has turned into a pot of flies, attracted by the stench within. His government continues along the path of profligacy, inexplicably planning to build a multi-million ringgit sports centre offshore with neither adequate nor plausible justifications. I am not sure whether he had acted as PM or Umno president when he handed out RM600 millions to his Umno members to dispense to bumiputera contractors without proper parliamentary approval and with gross discrimination towards the state of Sarawak.
He condoned the protection of a member of parliament from being hauled up for questionable conduct before the parliamentary select committee even when the erstwhile chairperson of the Umno-controlled backbenchers club supported that move, punishing instead the righteous member.
Under his premiership, his state governments demonstrated double standards in, for example, the over-hasty demolition of a Taoist temple built on its own land or the traumatic destruction of Hindu temples that were starkly memorable only for the unnecessary zeal, ferocity and utter insensitivity demonstrated by the enforcement units of various local authorities, while the illegally constructed residences of Umno members are protected or condoned.
His Higher Education Ministry has perverted the very sanctuaries of free thinking and the nurturing grounds of the nation's future leadership, turning higher learning institutions into pro-Umno zombie factories and recruiting grounds for potential Brown Shirts.
Under his presidency of Umno, he failed to take appropriate action to stop Umno bigots at the party's last general assembly from arrogantly issuing racist threats of violence against non-Malay Malaysian communities, and also failed as minister of internal security to subsequently take legal action against those extremists.
His own son-in-law was allowed to escape unscathed with reckless and racist comments against the Chinese Malaysian community. He accepted a Putera Umno's proposal for the PM to officially legitimise and glorify motorcycle hoodlums, who have been known to attack even police officers. How could he have allowed the high office of the PM to be sullied by its association with those unsavoury bike thugs? If this was not indulging his son-in-law, what was it then?
And where is the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) that he had promised us?
Is this the Bao Gong redux that the MCA had promised us? If the original Bao Gong was still alive, he would have said in classical Chinese-accented English, 'It's all a pot of lies'.