For Dr M, what goes around comes around

Terence Netto
(Updated )

COMMENT | In politics you get all types. The thing is the specimens can mutate in ways that can turn out to make them interesting.

Hence politics as a spectator sport in Malaysia demands that watchers must be prepared to observe all types.

This would be difficult in most cases. Imagine having to monitor Ibrahim Ali for more than a bit.

But wait a minute. Even the former MP for Pasir Mas in Kelantan can turn out to have redeeming aspects.

He recently and accurately observed that his weakness for the game of political hopscotch, which had saddled him with comparisons to a dubious type of amphibian, is now viewed in softer light.

It took fellow Kelantanese, the new DAP enlistee Zaid Ibrahim, who has gone dizzyingly round the political party bloc in his career, to best the resident grandmaster of party-hoppers at the game.

Suffice, pace people like Ibrahim and Zaid, it could be said not so much in charity as relief, that only bores are insufferable in Malaysian politics.

This is all prologue to the point that in Mohamad Nazri Aziz, the Culture and Tourism Minister embroiled in the saga of cancelled debates with Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Umno has a political octopus whose tentacles and ink-squirts can ensnare the public and adversaries in the outer defences.

For the past few weeks, he has led the country and Dr M in an unmerry go-round concerning his willingness to debate the former prime minister on the great issues of this and past days.

Depending on your perspective, the police have had a critical role in this saga of now-cancelled debates.

Nazri makes the police or affects to make them - again depending on one’s perspective - look like the bad guys in this ongoing charade of risque debates that the minister deftly keys up to a pitch of public expectation and excitement before the cops step in to call the thing off.

Thus far Nazri has been able to pull off his beguiling entrapment of opponent and keyed-up public because of his stature as a maverick in all the administrations - first Mahathir, then Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and now Najib Abdul Razak - of which he has been a loyal and compliant member, but one who resists easy pigeonholing.

The fascinating thing about Nazri's resistance to easy categorisation is that he has been able to survive...

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