In other words, APCO made Malaysia and its people look like total morons.
Never mind NAG, the three stooges who went as panel speakers for the seminar to explain “Governance & Rule of Law in Malaysia”, nor the Porsche-riding malaysian ambassador to the U.S., who are oxy-morons in their own right. The BN administration need not pay APCO RM20 million for them to look ‘bad’ coz they’d do it fer free. And naturally too.
Anywayz, I found this gem at Din Merican’s which was submitted by someone who attended the seminar. Didn’t have the heart to let it just lay there sooo .. I sorta pinched it .. and voila! Ad verbatim –
The Malaysian Taxpayers have a right to know what happened at the recent CSIS seminar. I feel it is my duty to share with you my report on the proceedings. I hope, Mr. Merican, you will publish my piece on your blog, which I follow closely in DC. I apologise to Mr. Martin Jalleh for borrowing the word circus (I read his piece “Malaysian Circus Goes to Washington” on http://www.dinmerican.wordpress.com )
Actually what happened in Washington is not only a waste of taxpayers’ money (about rm 4million was spent on this, that is the story I heard here, but I have no means of verifying this) but also a disgrace to all of us who are Malaysians here in this politically vibrant city.
The performance was as Mr. Jalleh had predicted. It was dominated by spins and fell well short of the worst expectations. The Team of Minister Nazri, MACC Chairman Abdul Hamid and AG Gani Patail (The NAG Team) was not there in full force. Nazri took the podium and monopolized it for the most part – some 1 hour plus.
Gani Patail, we were was told by our “pengcubit punggung” Ambassador JJ, was busy at the State Department in discussions concerning “re-exports” and “transshipments.” Crudely put, it was the issue of breach of sanctions and rules concerning export licenses. The AG was presumably being asked to account for jet engines that flew off on their own to Uruguay, and the lucrative business of shipping sensitive equipment to Iran and other hot ports via Dubai.
The scheduled speaker, Chairman of MACC Hamid who turned up late suddenly appeared to have lost his voice, speaking on briefly and the audience was entertained instead by the lacklustre Dato Abu Kassim, the recently minted Commissioner of MACC. The NAG Team included a number of hangers-on who could not be identified. However, three MPS were introduced – a UMNO-Barisan Nasional Tajuddin, Wee Chee Keong (PKR MP for Wangsa Maju) and Penang MP for Bayan Baru, a certain Dato Seri Zahrain Hashim, who recently quit PKR.
The opening act was by the nervous Master of Ceremonies for the event – Ernie Bower of the CSIS. Mr. Bower who was severely criticised for arranging this seminar was groveling, asking the audience to be gentle and polite with questions and to show respect to the VIP guests from Malaysia. He went on to make the point that the session was a closed one and that all statements were off the record. He broke the CSIS’s covenant for an open dialogue.
Thus there were no media representatives. The rest of the audience were students including myself, odd US Government Departmental representatives, academics, a handful of the Malaysian diaspora, and retirees from the US Foreign service. This event did not attract the capital’s movers and shakers or opinion makers that the NAG team was dispatched to win over or seduce. It would appear that APCO, the lobbying firm, did not deliver after having collected their fat fees.
Minister Nazri began by referring to Mr Martin Jalleh’s article on the Malaysian Circus, which was posted in Raja Petra’s web-paper and carried on your blog. He said that his trip had been planned nine months ago and was part of the new Prime Minister Najib’s wish to cultivate closer relationships with the US. Nazri elaborated that other Ministers and high officials would all be making visits to Washington in the future. He stressed that Najib was deeply committed to better relations with the Obama Administration. (Or was this an indication to all and sundry that they could count on Rosmah Mansor’s patronage of the Washington Area Shopping Malls which are still feeling the effects of the recession?). Nazri assured that Washington would be close to the heart of the Malaysian Government.
The haughty Nazri was totally boring and spinning hard and made little or no impression on the audience. His responses to questions were rambling and evasive. Kumar, the Amnesty International representative, was scathing — compared Malaysia to Myanmar in terms of adherence to the Rule of Law. Nazri went off at a tangent and gave long definitions about the Rule of Law and good governance. His bull carried on weight.
He was no better when questioned by Hibert Murray, formerly of the Far Eastern Economic Review who was in jail as guest of the Malaysian King, on the Allah issue – putting the blame on Roman Catholic Archbishop of Malaysia for instigating the issue. He said it was okay to use Allah in East Malaysia but it is taboo in Peninsula Malaysia. There were the usual worn out excuses for the ISA. The cowhead –episode, in the de facto Law Minister’s view, had broken no laws and it was, therefore, difficult to prosecute. What crap is that!. I bowed my head in embarrassment at this outrageous comment. No permits from the Police are required to hold demonstrations, a fact Nazri conveniently forgot.
Dato Abu Kassim, the Commissioner of MACC, was boring sick as he described the various Committees that were created to oversee the MACC. In response to questions about the independence of MACC, he said it had freedom to investigate but not prosecute. No mention was made of the MACC’s selective persecution of opposition. That was up to the AG but the MACC Committees had power to “review”. On the Teoh Beng Hock issue, he was vague and evasive and said new processes for interrogations were under consideration. A question about the Mongolian model was completely side-stepped.
Most in the audience left thoroughly disappointed. We all deserve a refund for this dismal performance.
Malaysian Student @The Elliot School of International Affairs – February 25, 2010 at 6:29 pm
Coupled to the above, I guess you must have also read RPK’s scathing riposte on da Groper who had the audacity to read a newspaper during Nazri’s speech.
(Dis)honor among scallywags, I’d presume.
Updated: 2145HR 26/02/10
Would you be interested to find the two versions of the CSIS invitation i.e. OFF THE RECORD and ON THE RECORD on the Net as per copies shown below:
Here’s the thing to do – Google search “CSIS + MALAYSIA” and you’ll find this result:
Click on 1 to get the ‘cloak & dagger’ OFF version, on 2 for the ‘original’ ON copy.
I reckon Ernest Z. Bower, senior adviser & director of CSIS Southeast Asia, has certainly groped a trick or two from UMNO Baru, eh folks.