No cure for shooting from the hip
A TTHE height of the invasion of Iraq led by US forces, many of us who were required to monitor developments throughout the night often had a respite from the serious side of the war. One man kept us entertained almost on a regular basis. He was the then Iraqi information minister, Muhammed Saeed alSahaf. So ridiculous were his comments that the media dubbed him “Comical Ali”.
His memorable quotes include: “We are not afraid of the Americans. Allah has condemned them. They are stupid. They are stupid and they are condemned. The Americans, they always depend on a method what I call ... stupid, silly. All I ask is check yourself. Do not in fact repeat their lies.”
After Baghdad had fallen, this was his infamous one-liner – “I triple guarantee you; there are no American soldiers in Baghdad.”
Comical Ali and his antics more than 12 years ago may have been forgotten and consigned to history, but we are getting daily doses akin to his lurid and wry humour from some of our politicians.
Last week, one statement that made the rounds in social media attracted attention. It was attributed to Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak.
He was quoted by the BN Backbenchers website as saying the government could have easily erased Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s legacy by demolishing the iconic Petronas Twin Towers if it wanted.
He was responding to the former prime minister’s allegation that the government wants to erase his legacy by killing off his brainchild, national carmaker Proton.
If it is true, said Salleh, there are numerous other legacies of Mahathir that could have been erased.
To have even such thoughts would make Joe Public the subject of abhorrence, odium and contempt. But then, some ministers, seem to have a knack for saying the wrong things and getting away with them.
The omnipresent deputy international trade and industry minister, Datuk Ahmad Maslan, made a stellar statement for those burdened by the rising cost of living. “Work two jobs to cope with rising costs of living.” When critics poured scorn on him, Ahmad Maslan took to Twitter with a ready answer: “I have three jobs – Pontian MP, deputy minister and Umno information chief.”
Rural Development Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob put his foot in his mouth when he was pictured with a bowl of turtle eggs at a dinner he attended in Sabah. There is a total ban on possession or consumption of turtle eggs.
“Honestly, I didn’t know that there were laws against it. But to me, that is not the issue. The issue is whether it was consumed or not. I haven’t eaten any turtle eggs in a long time. The doctor doesn’t allow me to because of my high cholesterol. Turtle eggs are among the things I am prohibited from eating, including cow brains.”
Just when you thought the gaffes would be restricted to the politicians who wrongly assume humour and lack of knowledge are shortcuts to five minutes of fame, a senior civil servant has thrown his hat into the ring.
Dr S. Jeyaindran, the Health Ministry’s deputy director-general (medical), had plenty to say after a doctor from Serdang Hospital’s cardiology department was assaulted and arrested after being mistaken for a robbery suspect.
He said police should not be solely blamed for the incident as they were merely doing what they did best. Really? That they are good at assaulting and arresting the wrong people?
“I think at the end of the day, this should be treated as a learning experience for both the police and us,” Jeyaindran told theSun.
Dressed in his Serdang Hospital tagged blue scrub suit and a stethoscope around his neck, the doctor was allegedly tackled, kicked to the ground and handcuffed by four to six members of an elite police unit.
Despite informing the police personnel that he was a doctor and that there was an identification card in his pocket, they allegedly continued to assault him. They only relented and unlocked his handcuffs when a cardiothoracic surgeon at the scene vouched that he was attached to the hospital.
Jeyaindran went on to give the police side of the story instead of empathising with the doctor: “When the police ordered the doctor to stop, he continued running in the direction of the suspected criminals. When he fell and the police caught up with him, he allegedly started punching the policemen, leaving the officers no choice but to apprehend him. He told them he was a doctor but the police took him to the police station to verify this.
“Anybody can be wearing the blue surgical scrubs, or stethoscope he had on him.” Since when did Jeyaindran become a spokesman for the police?
But doesn’t Jeyaindran accept that anyone can be in ordinary clothes and wear balaclavas? How was the doctor to know they were policemen? They could have been thugs or robbers.
What a load of bunkum from a senior civil servant who is supposed to look after the welfare and well-being of doctors?
Already, doctors are complaining of low salaries and long working hours and are leaving the civil service. Now, with an employer who says getting beaten up is a learning curve, do you expect them to remain and serve?
But Jeyaindran and the ministers can take some consolation. Their munificent words will be extensively played out when Alan Perera or Harith Iskandar think about parody and satire for their next shows!
Flashback of theSun’s report published on Oct 13.