No cure for shoot­ing from the hip

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

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.

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