It was with a terrorist organisation represented by a man using a fake name that the fate of a big chunk of Mindanao was deliberated by the Philippine government. Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III had virtually promised handing over rule of an “autonomous” Bangsamoro “state” in Mindanao to the Moro islamic Liberation Front. Negotiating in their behalf was a man who went by the name “Mohagher Iqbal” who, as it turned out, used no such name on his own passport.
Interestingly, the the government of Malaysia through its prime minister Najib Razak played a major role in brokering the deal. It is interesting because the Philippines has a long-standing claim to the resource-rich Malaysian state of Sabah. So one might wonder why the Philippine government would choose to involve a foreign government with which it has a standing dispute with over territory so geographically (and also culturally and historically) close to western Mindanao (where much of the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region would be carved out) as a partner in such a sensitive undertaking.So now the plot thickens. Prime Minister Najib is in the midst of a corruption scandal following revelations that hundreds of millions of dollars had been deposited in personal bank accounts belonging to him by certain foreign entities. According to a Wall Street Journal report, “the original source of the money was unclear and that the government investigation hadn’t detailed what happened to the money that allegedly went into Mr. Najib’s personal accounts.”
But Malaysian blogs are busy filling the gaps left by mainstream media reporting. The Malaysian Insider quoting another prominent Malaysian political blog, Malaysiakini, reported that an official of the ruling United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) claimed that a $700 million deposit to Najib’s personal account came from a Saudi donor in appreciation for Malaysia’s “championing Islam and for practising Sunni Islam” as well as “fighting militant group Isis”.
The Malaysian people don’t seem to be buying it. Demonstrations organised last weekend by Bersih, a coalition formed in 2006 consisting of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which seeks to reform the current electoral system in Malaysia to ensure free, clean and fair elections reportedly attracted several hundred thousand protestors (clad in yellow shirts) who congregated in Kuala Lumpur. The Straits Times reported a “sea of yellow” that brought parts of the Malaysian capital to “a standstill” last Saturday.
“People are not afraid anymore. We want our right to be heard,” a local university lecturer, who declined to be named, told The Straits Times. “We feel that as time goes by, things are getting worse. Everyone knows about the corruption in our country. Until now we don’t have clear answers on (state investor) 1MDB and the 2.6 billion ringgit that PM consider to be a donation,” said the lecturer who was outside Sogo.
It was one thing the way the government of President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III had negotiated with terrorists in the course of progressing its Bangsamoro “peace” project. That an allegedly corrupt government in Kuala Lumpur played a “facilitating” role in that shady deal adds yet another layer of craziness to this circus. Indeed, a circus of ironies it is seeing the Yellow motif now sported by Malaysia’s anti-government protestors now wielding the same “people power” style of activism that garnered world-fame for the camp of President BS Aquino.
It just keeps getting more and more entertaining.
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