As you might have read in recent news… an opportunity for our PM Najib to clear all the allegations and silence his critics became yet another nail in his PR coffin. So SukaGuam (an NGO made up of lawyers ) organised a townhall session (like Najib’s BFF Obama) with a name inspired by boybands of the 90s (and apparently a group of New Yorkians who stripped down to their underwear earlier this year in winter).
#Nothing2Hide took place earlier today at PWTC’s Dewan Tun Hussein Onn, and EVERYONE was invited.
“The media agencies – print, online and even bloggers – are invited as we all share the common mission of bringing truth to the people,” – Khairul Anwar Rahmat, Malaysian Volunteer Lawyers Association (SukaGuam) chairman, The Star.
Dr. M was not formally invited, but the organisers welcomed his voluntary attendance to encourage discourse. What happened next you probably know. IGP Khalid tweeted to cancel the event at the 11th hour for sake of “ketenteraman awam dan keharmonian masyarakat”, and subsequently Najib pulled out on IGP Khalid’s advice – eventhough according to the organisers, the PM was already “on the way“.
All in all, no one will disagree that Najib’s no-show is a PR disaster on his end, which may probably require Lim Kok Wing to work extra hours. Only a day before this drama, he said he had a ‘warrior spirit’ to a 10,000-strong crowd in Kuching. To the extent that even Johor royalty are calling him out.
“How can you have a dialogue called ‘Nothing2Hide’ featuring a person who has everything to hide? Obviously he won’t show up.” – Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail, Malaysiakini.
Thing is… we were there too. And there were somethings that happened along the way that made us think that there’s more here than meets the eye.
1. The media weren’t allowed inside
Here’s Khairul himself inviting the media – print and web – and bloggers, all to come with the same mission to bring truth to the rakyat. Although invitation for Nothing2Hide was sent to NGOs and activists, he adds that it’s an open forum and anyone is welcome to join.
So we went lor. But oddly enough, the when we arrived at 9:15am, there was no media registration counter. The ushers told us that only registered NGOs would be allowed into the hall. Also, Khairul did say that there would be TVs outside for spectators who couldn’t fit into the hall (which can hold 1,500 people) can watch from outside, but there was no TV 🙁
UPDATE: Organiser now claims 1200 people can fit, and hall was filled with uninvited guests. With three or four guards at every door, we’re not sure how this could’ve happened.
“Pada waktu polis meminta Suka Guam membuat pengumuman membatalkan program, dewan sesak dengan peserta termasuk tetamu yang tak diundang, walaupun jumlah yang sepatutnya hanya 1,200 orang.” – From DialogPMBersamaNGO FB Page.
However, when Tun Mahathir’s entourage moved from the Seroja Room (around 10:10am) into the main hall, a few photographers managed to squeeze in with him. At this point, it had been all but confirmed that Najib would not be attending.
Burning question: Who issued the order for the media not to be allowed in?
2. The IGP makes decisions really quickly and decisively
IGP Khalid’s tweet to cancel was at 8:53am
Dialog 1MDB bersama NGO2.
Demi ketenteraman awam dan keharmonian masy, @PDRMsia mengarahkan Dialog diatas, di PWTC, Kl pagi ini dibatalkan.
— Khalid Abu Bakar (@KBAB51) June 5, 2015
“We were informed that a scuffle broke out outside the hall, and one arrest was made by the police. We are trying to determine the culprit who provoked the incident. In the meantime, we have no choice but to postpone the event,” said a spokesperson for the event. The scuffle happened somewhere between 8:50 and 9:15 (video here). It was quite minor, with only one chap trying to force himself into the Seroja room where Tun Mahathir was.
Malaysiakini reported that an attendee, Syed Ja’afar Al Husaini, doesn’t believe that there was any security issue to be concerned about at the function.
“We were all well-dressed, professional people. There was no rowdiness in the crowd, no suspicious character. So what’s the problem?” – event attendee Syed Ja’afar Al Husaini, as reported by Malaysiakini
Timing Weirdness – Guests only started arriving at 8:30, and Mahathir was estimated to have arrived between 8:50 and 9:10. Also, Dr. M is 89 years old. If he can make it there by 9am to patiently wait, why was Najib only just leaving the house at 9am when he found out it was cancelled?
So what that all means is… if the scuffle was the reason behind the cancellation, IGP Khalid heard about one small scuffle, and instantly made the decision to cancel the event and tweeted about it in less than 10 minutes, and then advised Najib not to go for the event. If only they were that efficient with other things.
and what sort of security threat was it? People booing? But that has happened before, no? @KBAB51
— Marina Mahathir (@netraKL) June 5, 2015
In other FAKE MALAYSIA NEWS…
Burning question: Was the PM ever planning on coming in the first place?
3. We’re not sure who’s side the organiser (SUKAGUAM) is on.
Here… watch this video promoting the event.
Perdana Menteri akan berdialog dengan rakyat secara terus, bagi merungkaikan segala persoalan yang bermain di fikiran kita.Ayuh bersama kami Jumaat ini, 5 Jun 2015, dari jam 9am-12pm di PWTC dalam program Dialog PM bersama NGO #Nothing2Hide #SukaGuamRakyat
Posted by Khairul Anwar Rahmat on Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Music damn drama right. So can you tell… if they’re out to get Najib or out to clear his name? We have no idea. Then there are the newspaper clippings from Utusan and The Straits Times – two papers known for which side of the divide they lean on.
***The yellow circle in NST article:
“The dialogue, Khairul said, would prove that the government had nothing to hide and the rakyat were free to clear their doubts on any issues with Najib.” – reported by Laili Ismail of the New Straits Times
and more comments from Khairul on national TV.
“[About explanations given to people] Masanya terhad dan satu hala penjelasannya tapi oleh kerana banyak isu dan banyak persepsi, kita yakin ruang terbaik 2 jam, kita rasa gembira menjemput semua NGO […] dan kita boleh bertanyakan in person.
Sebab, kadang-kadang kita baca maklumat tak sama dengan kita tengok orangnya. Kita boleh tengok body language-nya, keyakinannya, keikhlasannya… Ha yang ni yang kita nak cuba keluarkan.“- Khairul Anwar Rahmat on Selamat Pagi Malaysia
Heh. When Khairul says 2 hours should be enough to clear things up, the host says “Macam tak cukup masa tu”. Khairul also says at 2:40 that “Civilisations always benefit from healthy debate“.
Burning question: What was the intention of the organiser?
So? What do ugaiz think?
4. Najib never officially said he was coming (!)
This detail was perhaps the most important of all. Tan Yi Liang’s article in The Star Online reported that SukaGuam’s chairman, Datuk Khairul Anwar Rahmat, said that Najib would arrive at the ‘no-holds barred Q&A session’.
“He will be arriving at 10. We have confirmation from his officers.” – Khairul told The Star Online during a phone conversation on Thursday.
The strange thing is… there was NO official admittance from the PM’s office itself, or his social media outlets. It’s like people auto-invite you for a party. In fact, banners started appearing as early as 31st May, before his attendance was even confirmed. Sounds a bit premature doesn’t it?
Still, it’s hard to believe the PM didn’t know about it. But that he didn’t actually confirm his attendance personally is very, very curious. Even after the event, he never admitted to actually agreeing to attend. In fact, after #Nothing2Hide, the first update he posted was about the Sabah earthquakes, which understandably got him a lot of flak.
Then towards the evening, he posted this on Facebook:
5. They let Mahathir talk, and then they kept him quiet?
At time of writing, there are more than half a million views on this cameraphone footage. The thing is, there are police at the door, police escorting Tun M, and police all around the stage. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Mahathir would have some fairly seditious things to say. And yet they let him talk… to a room full of people probably wondering where Najib was in all this.
Burning question: Why let Mahathir start in the first place?
Also, before the event AND again, during SukaGuam’s post-event press conference (click here for video), a tired-looking Khairul said that SukaGuam didn’t extend the invitation to Dr M, but Dr M showed up anyway because news about him attending had gone viral. He said that Dr M was aware that he wasn’t invited, but he was a gentleman about it all.
Eventhough he wasn’t officially invited, Dr. M shows up early (some said 9.15am, some 8.45am, but organiser says 8:50am), and oddly enough, there was even a VIP room right there, waiting to host him. But then again, we’re just playing guessing games. And then Instagram user Lokman Adam posted this:
CILISOS Conspiracy corner: Is it possible that Mahathir organised the whole thing?
Let’s get this out of the way first. It was truly a wasted event as the dialogue would’ve been a great platform to clear the air. As Khairul said, constructive discourse is always healthy for any civilisation. However, all we’re left with are more questions.
In this case, we know Mahathir is a worthy political adversary, and that he was instrumental in the fall of Anwar and Badawi since. Now, he’s finally having a political resurgence that we haven’t seen for a VERY long time. At the event, any time Mahathir appeared, the crowds would chant “Hidup Tun!” repeatedly.
Could it be possible then – that he organised this entire conference, printed the banners, built the publicity and got an NGO to ‘confirm’ the PM’s attendance? Then at the last minute, he confirms his attendance as a curious onlooker. Think about it… Mahathir had already called Najib out to debate, with little response.
In the media coverage of #Nothing2Hide, he’s portrayed as just a high-profile attendee, versus the massive public pressure making it an invitation that’s almost impossible for Najib not to accept.
IF Najib declined, they’d say he was going back on his word.
IF Najib accepted, he would be put on a stage to answer some really awkward questions (which he has time and again avoided open discourse on).
….and of course…
IF Najib didn’t show up… then Dr M would have already won the debate… and so that is what seems to have happened.
Even now… Khairul is saying that the event is being ‘postponed’, and that they would try to set a date for a second dialogue. Again, Najib gives vague answers on his attendance. And in the meantime… who is at the centre of every photo?
Allow us to end with a quote from a book about Mahathir’s time as Prime Minister.
“Wayang Kulit, the traditional Malay art form of shadow puppet performance, is an apt metaphor for Malaysian politics.” – Ziauddin Sardar, “Desperately Seeking Paradise: Journeys of a Sceptical Muslim”