Copyright Notice

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the author, at the address below.

Sakmongkol ak 47

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Ride the Choo Choo Train: BN's Bread and Circuses

Here is an interesting article written by a very energetic social activist who, like many of us, is acutely aware of the Malaysian version of pork-barrel politics of UMNO and BN. you can sample more of her insightful and clinical analyses on a wide range of issues in her blog.
In its original meaning, the phrase refers to spending on projects in a particular area to enrich powerful sections of the community in that area. In Malaysia, areas overlap and powerful business factions scent-mark their territories as they desire and damn well please. As such spending on projects anywhere are intended to enrich the same powerful business factions aligned of course to the personalities who call the shots at that relevant time.
A baser and simpler version of pork barrel politics UMNO version is direct spending on recipients in exchange for the unspoken promise to vote the hand that gives. This is what the interesting topic by Nicole Tan is all about.

Don’t be Duped by BN’s Bread and Circuses

The term "Bread and Circuses" (Latin: panem et circenses) is a figure of speech for a fake sense of satisfaction or the “feel good” factor. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the garnering of public approval through manipulation and/or the instant/quick mere satisfaction of the shallow requirements of the citizens. In other words, as "panadols" for quick fixes. Juvenal (a Roman poet) defined it as “a simplistic motivation of common people”. The phrase is taken to describe a populace that no longer values civic virtues and the public life. To politicians, it connotes the winning formula for the survival of the Roman Republic for centuries. Both the Roman Republic and China’s Han dynasty lasted for 500 years. The former used “bread and circuses” whilst the latter was an absolute monarchy. Instead of winning the citizens’ approval through excellent public service and policies, the Roman Republic gave cheap food and entertainment. The Roman Republic provided the bread and circuses in order to order to keep the Roman citizens from becoming too discontent with their lives. The Roman government provided the citizens with enough food (bread) so they wouldn't starve and enough entertainment (circuses) so they would be amused. Hence, the Romans elected them again and again.

BN’s breads are the 1Malaysia goodies and handouts (BR1M Part 1 & 2, free tyres for taxi drivers, smart phone allowances for young adults, FELDA’s RM15,000, pay rise for civil servants, etc.). BN’s latest “bread” was announced by Najib : “Najib Announces RM2.98 Billion for Sabah next year”(

BN's circuses shows are the alphabet soup management (ETP, GTP, NKRA etc); not forgetting tarring the roads before any General elections. Another great circus show was Najib’s "groundbreaking" announcement in his Malaysia Day's speech. He said the government shall repeal the 3 Emergency Declarations and the draconian statutes like ISA, Printing Presses and Publications Act and Banishment Act. They were BN's powerful weapons to curb opposition and Rakyat who do not accept the government's policies. Why should BN take away these powerful weapons ? It is actually for BN's political survival. Like the lizard's survival skill. The lizard will shed its tail in order to escape for its predator/death.

Food (or bread) for thought: is BN using the age old formula of “Bread and Circuses” to survive another general elections? Are we gullible enough to allow that to happen again?
 N.B : Steven Sim’s article “Is A Country A Brand?” also touches on bread and circuses.


bruno,  8 December 2012 at 02:37  

Dato,actually the feel good factor was not then well felt at the ground among the rakyat.The feel good factor was basically readily accepted and well felt among the ones in cozy offices in Putrajaya,their offsprings,ball carriers and cronies.That is the reason you see politicians and cronies rushing to the restrooms occasionally.Because of the feel good factor,commonly known in the land of the bolehs as "shiok sendiri".

bruno,  8 December 2012 at 02:44  

The only big guy in Putrajaya who is having a hang over from the feel good factor is you know who.Najib,having the rug pulled from right under his feet,knows that unseen powerful hands are at play,trying to ouster him and his gang.

After having sleepless nights,Najib is cracking his head trying to figure out how to out manoveure his opponents.Najib's days as Umno president are numbered,unless he has one last ace up his sleeves.

Anonymous,  8 December 2012 at 08:38  

This feel good factor might work in rural areas in the interior of East Malaysia Isn't this how BN has been winning in Sabah and Sarawak all these years

Anonymous,  8 December 2012 at 08:58  

What happens when the money needed to pay for the bread and circuses (not to mention the vast amounts necessary to satisfy the voracious party warlords) run out?

1. Raise taxes here and there, preferably those which can be more easily hidden e.g. RM50 credit card tax

2. Run up vast government deficits, don't worry about the resulting inflation. Immediate political survival is more important

3. Borrow from overseas sources
Don't worry if repayment problems later turn us into another Greece
(because of pressure, to repay foreign creditors, from the enforcers for foreign banks such as the IMF)

Phua Kai Lit

walla 8 December 2012 at 20:57  

Part 1

Electing the corrupt to lead the clueless is like putting the leopard into the cow field.

To control the cows, the leopard will huddle them together like greeks bearing gifts of grass to the gathering cows of Troy.

But the leopard cannot change its spots although it may pretend to the cows it admits to past mistakes in order to win acceptance of its creative promises to reform with sweeping transformations.

The cows seeing the gifts and hearing those encouraging words will then prevail upon their own milk of kindness to forgive the leopard by electing it to tend their field for another five years.

Fifty years later, the cows start to wonder why their own situation has worsened but the leopard has somehow managed to multiply its own brood in their midst.

These new leopards are now housed in the better parts of the field parceled away from the cows which also notice that their field is now without much grass. They wonder into the starlit night where all the lush grass in their field has gone.

Then one cow, brighter than the others, an economist to boot, admonishes the herd to 'beware of greeks bearing gifts'. It adds that Greece has imploded because its clueless have also been taking gifts of grass given by its corrupt from their own field.

It sagaciously suggests that the cause of the fall of Greece today is the same cause of the fall of the Roman Empire before - the corrupt leading the clueless.

It further concludes that in the case of its own herd, the avaricious, power-crazed and self-garlanding leopards have also been hypocrites because they have dispossessed the cows from their own land.

Like what has happened somewhere else in the Middle East which they have openly decried.

That's why in some places of power, the number of high-grade fine cow leather handbags and shoes has grown astronomically.

Besides grass, skin as well. Bones remain untouched.

Meanwhile she-leopards ride in sheer comfort in large limousines to their apartments in the sky where they can survey one and all, and say 'suckers, those cows'.

Part 2

Lately the Greeks of Umno have been bearing gifts to the clueless voters of Malaysia.

Like bankers who make it appear they are the ones doing the favour when they return depositors their money, the Umnoputras in our midst are using taxpayers money to buy the clueless rakyats' milk of forgiveness, if not elation and gratitude.

They just want to buy your votes using your money.

But because they have already plundered and squandered too much, they have focused on where to distribute the gifts.

Isn't it a coincidence that the three primary places they pick happen to be the places where the votes can make a difference so how can anyone not conclude they are doing it not because they care for the rakyat but because they care more for their own political survival?

First, the rural folks. By cunning gerrymandering, two-thirds of the constituencies are rural. Because of the clueless majority in the rural areas during GE12, Barisan won 50.4 percent of seats in Parliament with just 19 percent of the popular vote.

Second, the East Malaysians. Sabah and Sarawak combined are 15 percent of the total population. Yet they jointly contribute 25 percent of the total federal seats.

Third, the civil service of some 1.3 million. By persuasion and coercion, Umno has been particularly puerile in the way it has used taxpayers funds and administrative fiat to position itself as the preferred choice, forgetting that civil servants have seen the money given to them came from taxpayers, the majority of whom the Opposition. The money couldn't have come from Umno-linked corporations, the majority of which bleeding red ink.

walla 8 December 2012 at 20:57  


Therefore, if one is to be grateful to a giver, the civil service should be more grateful to the Opposition members without whom treasury would not have the funds to make the gifts.

The reason Umno members now say Umno is from Him is probably because they don't want to admit taxpayers money is more from the Opposition states. Since already lost on the ground, therefore head for the heavens.

No nation can prosper for long if its citizens allow the corrupt to lead the clueless.

Two bad's don't make one good.

Any nation that does not arrest that situation stands in peril of going into a vicious cycle of permanent decline. Because the bad ones will do their utmost to protect their own power-hold over the masses for the privileges, perks and plunder that come with the position even if doing so will turn an entire green forest into some tropical tunda.

In short, the bad ones will do their damnest not to give a damn.

And that is why voters who are no longer clueless must realize one crucial thing when they vote. It's particularly important in our case - when we vote, our objective and message to ourselves is that we are voting to instil higher standards of integrity and performance for the future generations. Not politicians of the day.

Part 3

Lately Umno has been busy canvassing for international accolades. For instance, the British government has probably been prevailed to say it admired the ETP. But its spokesman finished the same sentence by saying Britain values trade with us.

Now, why didn't the spokesman add that we could have bought their eurocopters earlier if the government here had been less corrupt when making procurements which might then have averted the loss of those 19 helicopter personnel when one of the old sikorsky's crashed and hundreds of ordinary rakyat had crowded patiently with troubled hearts by the field of GHKL to await the arrival of their bodies to the morgue?

A small reduction in corruption might even have saved the life of a young Mongolian mother.

Is that too much to ask from the pahlawan-pahlawan of Umno?

And then there are all these craven admonitions from some of the investment banks and securities houses. They said if Barisan loses, the market will take a hit because of the uncertainty that follows.

In other words, they are indirectly hinting they would rather be with the devil they know than the angels they don't.

Could it be because they have already submitted proposals for some approvals to a Putrajaya where their people have invested time and entertainment money in the vague hope of getting a bit more morsel than CIMB?

Malaysia is not just its bourse, sleepy as that animal already is.

In its largest context, Malaysia must be about the attributes of clean government and financial integrity so necessary to impart trust and faith in minimal business cost overruns.

Because the rent-seekers, gate-keepers and mind-sweepers under a new administration would have been retired to graze the grass-less fields of yesteryear.

The fine and intelligent bankers should ask themselves why is it that Malaysia ranks 54 this year in the corruption index besides loaded with half a trillion ringgit in runaway debts but Singapore spun out from her innards ranks up there at number 5 besides being obscenely rich.

And those racist mahathirites reading in should also echo to themselves why it is that the Malay in Singapore is richer than the Chinese in Malaysia. They have some special NEP over there, izzit?

Parts 1 + 2 + 3 = ABU

umar,  9 December 2012 at 01:59  

Malaysia will not progress as long as the people (Dayak Iban. Kadazan etc )
come out of their long-houses and wearing cawat.
East Malaysian Bumiputras are left to oblivion all these 55 years.
BN has taken all of us for a ride.

monsterball 9 December 2012 at 04:48  

Corruption is a disease for Umno b party.
Cannot it reaches the no cure stage right now.
Modern medicine can cure them...but they prefer to stay with the disease.
A cure means....hundreds will be arrested.
Stay free...must live with the disease.
And so we see clowns performing divert attentions.
Billions have been stolen.
Murders have been performed with no fear.
How to change??

Anonymous,  9 December 2012 at 17:55  

BN IS BRAND NOTHING LAH-- circus m clowns

Anonymous,  9 December 2012 at 20:23  

Unfortunately he is not that smart and (lady)luck is definitely not on his side..

Patrick 10 December 2012 at 13:42  

The longer najib delays GE 13, the more he exposes his desperateness to stay in power, at all and any costs. People has come to regard any and all 'bread and crumbs' or whatever you may want to call this 'giveaways', as 'my own money that you are giving back to me'. This will not change the mindset of the majority of the people/recipients as they are now more mature and cynical. The more educated and politically savvy will spread the word to the other half on these sort of monkey tricks.

So its a blessing in disguise that UMNO/BN keeps giving away ever lower standards of education to the masses to enable them to at the minimum, question all actions. Again, its good in the short run as it puts the money back into the economy, no matter if it is only a one-off event.

The recently concluded UMNO GA has already opened the Pandora's box through the many current corruption issues, ie RM 40M Sabah issue. All these issues only serves to highlights preferential treatment within UMNO and serves only to polarize different warring factions more. BN will fall not because of the general public's dissatifaction with BN, but more because of internal warring, chaos, greed and strive within BN and UMNO.

UMNO/BN can dish out and throw out generous 'breads and crumbs' to win votes, but the PR is throwing out scandals after scandals to highlight UMNO/BN's secrets for all and sundry to see. Including warring factions within UMNO. And BN component parties.

Anonymous,  10 December 2012 at 16:14  

Who are u in the dap? What I hear is you only tukang cebok pantat lks.

Cahaya Qalbu,  10 December 2012 at 16:37  

Not only bread & circus but threatens of whacking as well.

UMNO leaders are unashamedly and blatantly revealing their trump card of violence; chaos and political instability will automatically erupt in the event that PR wins the next election. This blackmailing of our electorate as well as incitement of disruptive and barbarian elements in our society is totally unacceptable.

Most Msians do not who want any bloodshed but UMNO leaders and their gangs of desperados keep on spinning the fear to Msians, which proved they are irresponsible towards the nation, its rakyat and future generations.

Do MCA, MIC, Gerakan and other BN component parties want a repeat of May 13? Do all BN leaders agree another May 13 under the banner of UMNO?

The wealthy family members of UMNO/BN and their cronies will be the most targeted should it happens. Do they want to risk their corruptly acquired wealth? UMNO should stop spinning the May 13 turmoil.

Another May 13 is unthinkable and unforgivable except to those who are so blinded by greed and their lust for power that they need to keep reminding themselves and their supporters of that horrific possibility. However, should it happen, unlike in the first May 13 incident, it is now clear who the instigators are.

Therefore, PR and the rakyat must not allow any hint of a repeat of 513 to manifest!


Sumpitan Emas,  11 December 2012 at 01:31  

Walla, apart from 'cunning gerrymandering' and all the big talk about having delivered, and now the latest about how much he cares for the plight of the Indian community, he seems to have forgotten to tell the interviewers from the EDGE(15Oct2012)and MALAY MAIL(7Dec2012) that the 2013 budget includes Rm58million to BTN (Biro Tata Negara) specifically primed to deconstruct his own 1Malaysia vision, to demonise the non-Malays, especially the Chinese, so as to secure permanency in Putrajaya.

This is no different at all to what Datuk Seri Abdul Ghani Othman, Mentri Besar of Johor said at the UMNO General Assembly in 2006 when he loudly rejected the concept of Bangsa Malaysia in a direct challenge to Dr Mahathir’s Wawasan2020 which aimed at a united Malaysian nation. The point must not be missed that Dr Mahathir was no longer P.M. and the 12th PRU was two years away.

How does Najib reconcile this Rm58 million allocation when in his own book, 'Najib Tun Razak Meneroka Perubahan Memperkasa Pencapaian’ (2010-Jabatan Penerangan Malaysia) he says, quoting a Chinese philosopher from the Sung Dynasty, “Xian tian xiazhi you er you, hou tian xiazhileerle” – Yang bermaksud, ‘Selesaikanlah masalah rakyat sebelum rakyat sebelum kesusahan menimpa mereka, Bahagiakanlah hidup rakyat sebelum semua dapat hidup bahagia” ,i.e. Solve the common people’s problems before hardship overwhelms them, make them happy before everyone else can live happily. The target audience was of course Chinese.

He says further in Tamil, “Yipadaithorkin, yeapadaivehlum” (Ertinya: “If this team cannot win the battle, no other team can”). I think, Sam Velu has a hand in this.

All this must be evaluated together with the seditious utterances by Shahrizat and company at the latest PAU, not least another Grandmaster of doublespeak, Muhyiddin. His statement about being Malay first, forced me also for the first time, to feel really proud as an ethnic Chinese to witness the live launch of the rocket that took three Chinese astronauts, including the first Chinese woman, to outer space in June this year.

Why doublespeak has been a sort of rite of passage for ascendency in local politics is evidenced by the Janus-like behaviour of UMNO politicians at every instance – words must always suit the occasion, never mind about principles. Nothing Muhyiddin said in Australia recently a gave a hint of the combative Muhyiddin two years ago, and for good reason — to try to entice Malaysians to return to serve; I think they all know better for the moment.

Najib writes on pg 347: Di sinilah tanah tumpah darah kita, di sinilah, kita dilahirkan dan dibesarkan,…..dan di sinilah satu hari yang ditakdir dan ditentukan kelak, kita kembali menemui Yang Maha Esa dan dipusarakan. Note the similarity of these mournful words with those said recently. Cut and paste?

Nothing uttered by politicians and published the next day escape my attention – you publish, I buy and archive them

‘Dixi et salvavi animam meam’ - I have said it and have saved my soul.

Sumpitan Emas,  11 December 2012 at 15:20  

Walla,"..there are all these craven admonitions from some of the investment banks and securities houses. They said if Barisan loses, the market will take a hit because of the uncertainty that follows."

Is this another indicator that the reality of the rule of the troika of evil, as you have put it, RentSeekers—GateKeepers—MindSweepers, is about to end? With so many retired senior civil servants joining Pakatan, the signals are clear. It really amazes me then that craven self-seeking individuals cannot see the futility of making an amateurish foray into partisan politics, at this point of our collective political life, without triggering negative reactions from a large section of the public.

Either, they take the public, at best, as people operating just above the level of 'functional literates', or, at worst, always semi-comatose during daylight — as we say in Malay, in the usual self-deprecating, down-to-earth way, 'blur blur' with absolutely no whiff of the venom that accompanies the semantics of UMNO politicians.

Set against the voluminous amount of information, partial and impartial, available to the public on the net, at will, these
sycophantic garnishing of stale dishes can only be classified as lower-order histrionics and a pathetic needless display of brinkmanship for and on behalf of money-grubbers.

First, it must be obvious to these fortune-tellers that we all know their business is the business of making money for themselves, in the first place; any benefits accruing to everyone else are just incidental to the game.

No matter how many times Sunday supplements may repeat pious vows about wealth sharing they cannot hide the basic truth that both on terra firma or in ethereal space, it is still every man for himself. That's the only raison d’ĂȘtre for both the politicians and vested interests from the financial world to join hands at this late hour to push the envelope, not for basic sustenance, but to amass wealth to replicate the lifestyles of the great baronies in Europe or the moguls in the Americas, simply put, not for a humble cheerot but a Havana.

To be sure, the public knows which is the bull and which is the faithful bull-shit collector in tow.

Refer to my earlier posting, 21Nov, under " Breakdancing in The Stock Market" about what smart investment bankers do to earn big money without getting involved in politics, courtesy of Benjamin J Stein. This is just one story. I have enough stories to provide material for a 5-part lecture series on piracy, lunacy, and intimacy.

Sumpitan Emas,  11 December 2012 at 15:21  

A vote will need to be taken by readers to decide whether Seekers-Keepers-Sweepers would best be sent 'to graze the grass-less fields of yesteryear' as Walla would wish for, or to this fabulous retreat which I just read about in a book by Datuk Abg.Yusuf Puteh.

The late Datuk Amar Abang Yusuf Puteh (2009), one time Sarawak State Secretary, poet-scholar-civil servant extraordinaire, educated in University of Malaya (S'pore), Cambridge, and Princeton wrote a highly entertaining book on Malay humour.

He recounts the story of colonial surveyors doing their job with the help of local native helpers all over Sarawak.

On one fateful day in a small boat as a survey party was heading towards a small outcrop of land near the mouth of a river, the colonial officer asked the helpers for the name of the island, a normal practice for newcomers to the State. Whether the party had had a bad day because of the heat, or the chief had had a tantrum earlier in the day, and the worker was annoyed with him, or the worker was merely having some clean fun by making a statement of 'fact' given the shape of the island and the contours of the river banks, the good man (bless his soul) said, "Pulau Kelintit".

Datuk Yusuf, of course, did not put it this way beyond saying that the man, a hero to me, merely spoke the two words for posterity. The name, however, was in due course recorded as such.

Current survey maps no longer show this name, but this should not deter any new government from building a hotel to rival that of the upcoming Bamboo River Inn in Sungei Buluh. There will be plenty of time for fishing instead of grazing on fields which are grassless anyway, my apology Walla.

I like this original name as I am sure it would make a winning tourist spot.

There are thousands upon thousands of Yusuf Puteh in this country, so how can the Malays lose everything if Pakatan wins.

I love Malaysia minus the crooks and apple-polishers.

walla 11 December 2012 at 19:48  

Sumpitan emas,

I am floored by your erudition! Yes, it is time for a new and more enlightened generation of our Malays to emerge and help shape a new destiny for our country which until now has been run by a group of political opportunists bereft of both principles and knowledge while good only for making a mess of relations and shafting the rakyat, their institutions and the economy.

There's nothing that they have done or are doing which cannot be done better, cheaper, faster and more honestly by the many in Pakatan and those currently the fence-sitters who are ready to move the nation to higher and sharper levels of good governance and international efficiency.

And the process of takeover has already kicked into motion. The few who started marching on Lynas must have been surprised how many had joined them in the end. It was a wave of real humanity. If anything, that's a groundswell of spontaneous support for the country and the rakyat against the hypocrisy and greed of the hangers-on.

I understand there is a Malay gentleman named Kamal who had written a brilliant piece recently in Mandarin in the Oriental Daily News in which he extolled how our rakyat have finally broken through the three communal chimneys of race that Barisan had erected to cage our common society for too long, and in the process, our Malays in particular have finally seen through the scams and schemes that Umno has perpetrated to enchain them to Umno and pit them against the other communities.


  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP