Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Much ado about a few thousand ringgit

Brave New World (The Star)
9 November 2016


IN Pahang, there is a lake called Tasek Bera. It is Malaysia’s first RAMSAR site.

Oh, but I am getting ahead of myself. The RAMSAR treaty is an international law which requires its members to establish a protected wetland site of international importance. We are a party to this treaty, hence the Tasek Bera site.
I haven’t been to Tasek Bera in almost 20 years, so this is not a piece about the place. I don’t know if it is as pretty as when I last saw it or whether it has been poorly managed and is suffering as a result.
I just want to make the point that in order to get Tasek Bera classified as a wetland of international importance, there had to be a scientific study conducted. The Pahang state government did not have the expertise or the resources so this study was done by an NGO called Wetlands International and the funding came from the Danes.
Oh, you must be shaking your head in concern now. After all, foreign funding was used for this project.
Good heavens, what sort of dastardly deeds did the Danes devise? Foreign funding must have some agenda right? Well, that’s what some of our leaders said and among them are those who are supposedly smart, so they must be correct.
Oh wait; foreign funding has an agenda unless the donor writes a letter saying that there is no agenda. How could I forget that proviso?
Obviously I’m talking about the hoo ha being raised about some bodies, namely Malaysiakini, the Bar Council and Bersih getting funding from the Open Society Foundations which is founded by the much demonised George Soros (at least here in Malaysia).
Now the money that these groups got was peanuts. Less than peanuts when seen in the light of the donations some have received.
We are talking a few thousand ringgit here. And it is to organise one-off things like workshops. Workshops on what, you may ask?
Well, stuff like good governance and democracy. How precisely is this a bad thing?
And the secret agenda is what exactly: to topple the government unlawfully? I don’t think so.
If a government is honest and competent then why should they worry about greater transparency and a more open democratic space? These were not workshops on how to make pipe bombs and mobile phone detonators, after all.
So we have this vague scaremongering that the Open Society Foundations and those who received funds from them have some sort of evil plan. Like the promotion of human rights and good democratic practices is evil.
Hey, people can spew any amount of rubbish. For some who are intellectually challenged, it is actually expected and quite fun to listen to.
But when it is being done by the so-called intelligent, with not one iota of proof, then it gets to be irritating. No, it is not just irritating, it is infuriating, because what that means is that one is saying dumb things not because you were born that way but because you want to purposely disseminate unsubstantiated accusations. I suppose, for their own agenda.

No comments: