Flogging the dead horse of the deep state

According to our foreign minister, Saifuddin Abdullah, it is the “deep state” that is now trying to undermine the Pakatan Harapan government. Deep state is commonly defined as a body of people, typically influential members of government agencies, believed to be involved in the secret manipulation or control of government policy or action.

No one knows for sure how tenacious and widespread the deep state is. I think we can’t even validate its existence. But somehow, we are now attributing the government’s numerous failures to it.

When we can’t ratify ICERD, we blame it on the deep state. When we can’t find Pastor Raymond Koh and others that have mysteriously gone missing, we blame it on the deep state. When we can’t find Indira Gandhi’s daughter, we attribute it to the deep state. When we are not sure how mass graves happened, we blame it on the deep state. I think soon, we will also blame the deep state for our failure to close the Teoh Beng Hock case.

The foreign minister said he hopes the new government will ratify more international conventions and treaties going forward even though it miserably failed to ratify ICERD. Ironically, the new treaties being considered for ratification are: (i) the convention on civil and political rights, (ii) the convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, (iii) the covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, (iv) the international convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance, and (v) the convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families.

Seriously, I think there is no need to indulge in ambitious and grandiose talk. Have we even begun in earnest to solve the problems that are in our hands right now?

I just find it too convenient and simplistic to use the deep state as the reason when we have a new government, new Cabinet, new home minister, new IGP, new AG, new auditor-general, new MACC chief and new chief secretary to the government and new Bank Negara governor. Are we implying that all our new bosses do not know or can’t find out what is going on in their respective departments and agencies? Where should the buck stop, really?

I believe the government is a powerful institution. I also believe the deep state, if it exists, is ultimately under the purview of the government of the day. The deep state can’t exist out of thin air; it would need huge finances and resources to operate.

The government of the day can’t claim ignorance of the deep state unless its policies and objectives are in congruence with the deep state. So stop giving more excuses and start owning up.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.