Kausikan’s 'sour grape' moment — Charles Santiago

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FEBRUARY 26 — There isn’t enough Listerine around to remove the bitterness from this man’s mouth.

In an exaggerated comment, retired Singaporean diplomat Bilahari Kausikan said political instability in Pakatan Harapan and its failure to capture Malay support are aggravating relations between Malaysia and Singapore.

Then he went on to explain the old sticking points between the two countries, only to end up saying that Pakatan Harapan is falling apart.

Maybe Kausikan was hoping that mainstream media will start fizzing like a freshly opened bottle of Pepsi, with such a radical comment.

He did not stop to think that his observation is not befitting that of a long-standing diplomat.

I am not denying that Malaysia’s ruling coalition is experiencing teething problems but we are certainly not collapsing.

The new government embraces differences of opinion and is welcoming of people verbalising their dissenting views.

One cannot deny that there is an opening up of the democratic space in Malaysia. We cannot say the same about Singapore, can we?

Speaking at a lecture, the former policy adviser to Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said that we are using Singapore as a bogeyman or whipping boy to rally the Malay ground as it is a time-tested tactic.

Further into his ludicrous lecture, Kausikan urged the republic’s incoming new leadership to maintain the country’s military capabilities, saying that a show of might is crucial in its dealings with Malaysia.

Every once in a while the ridiculous just writes itself but Kausikan’s “political observation” and “analysis” only make me question his credibility.

In a massive show of protest, Malaysians threw out a corrupt regime last year. We were voted in on the premises of inclusion and reforms.

Yes, we are falling short of some election manifesto promises. But we are also seeing significant improvement.

For example, an administrative overhaul by the government will see nine agencies operating as independent entities and reporting directly to Parliament.

Among these are the Election Commission, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and the National Audit Department.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is focusing on repairing damage in the administration machinery and improving the country's financial position which is hampered by huge debts.

He is also sticking to institutional reforms, particularly weeding out corruption.

So to wave a pretty wand and take pot shots at Pakatan Harapan only goes to demonstrate Kausikan’s rather shallow analytical skills.

Having said that, I am reminded of the time Kausikan fell for untrue news by a website that openly propagates fake news.

He shared an article by parody news site, The Tapir Times, which claimed that Dr Mahathir’s party, Bersatu, vowed to only accept Umno MPs who have less than 10 pending criminal charges.

If Kausikan can’t understand parody from a self-identified troll website, I wonder how he comprehends regional politics?

And this time around, he has certainly made a media headline that won’t age well.

* Press statement by Charles Santiago, Member of Parliament for Klang, February 26, 2019.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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